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July 16, 2018

Trump administration working to weaken corruption investigation against Guatemalan President

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2018. 10:35 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has reportedly sought the help of US President Donal Trump to help weaken an international United Nations (UN) backed anti-corruption commission, which has been investigating Morales and his family, according to US-based media house McClatchy.

According to the report, the Trump administration has been engaging in the discussions since Guatemala joined the US in supporting its controversial decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. The Trump administration is reportedly still debating what specific changes should be made, however, supporters in Guatemala and Washington D.C. have raised alarm that doing so could undermined efforts to combat corruption and many of the causes of illegal immigration to the US.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has been instrumental in fighting corruption in Guatemala, having previously uncovering a multimillion dollar fraud scheme involving the former President and Vice President of Guatemala, who are both serving prison sentences for their respective roles. Now, according to McClatchy, the Trump administration has proposed changes which could “narrowly redefine corruption, increasing reporting requirements for donors, limiting terms of the commissioner and appointing a deputy commissioner which Guatemala would help select”.

Morales has been a target of CICIG’s investigation allegations of corruption and unaccounted campaign financing. This week, however, according to The Hill, a legal complaint against Morales was filed with Guatemala’s Attorney General, accusing the president of sexual abuse against two women.

Morales has also previously tried to have CICIG Commissioner, Ivan Velasquez, declared ‘persona non-grata’ and have him ousted from the country, however, his attempts were unsuccessful. The controversy eventually led to several of Morales’ colleagues resigning from their posts. In particular, Morales’ previous Attorney General, Thelma Aldana had said publicly that Morales was “no partner in the battle against corruption”, according to the Hill.

The Hill also reports that US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley had expressed the United States’ full support of CICIG as recently as August 2017. Critics have warned that weakening CICIG works against the interests of the Guatemalan people and against the US’ own interests in fighting illegal immigration.


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