Guatemala’s bishops criticised the country’s president for expelling an international anti-corruption commissioner. They also called for public protests to remain peaceful, for politicians to act in the national interest and for the president to obey a court order against his actions.
The bishops expressed “their conviction that the struggle against corruption and impunity constitutes a need that cannot be put off and an urgent task for the Guatemalan state,” in a 27th August statement from the Guatemala bishops’ conference.
“Weakening the CICIG” – the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala – favours, in the name of supposed sovereignty, that impunity and corrupt individuals emerge as the beneficiaries,” read the statement, signed by Bishop Gonzalo de Villa Vasquez of Solola-Chimaltenango, president of the bishops’ conference.
President Jimmy Morales plunged Guatemala into a political crisis on 27th August by declaring “non grata” Ivan Velasquez, a Colombian prosecutor who was the CICIG commissioner. The commission’s work has led to a series of prominent prosecutions of politicians and ultimately led to the country’s then-President Otto Perez Molina being removed from office in 2015.
Guatemala’s constitutional court blocked the order against Velasquez shortly after it was issued.
Picture: Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu holds a Guatemalan flag as she joins a protest against President Jimmy Morales in front of the National Palace in Guatemala City on 28th August. The Guatemala bishops have criticised the president for trying to oust the internationally appointed commissioner against corruption and impunity (CNS photo/Fabricio Alonzo, Reuters).