Morales' lashes out at CICIG, UN at UNGA (Sept. 26, 2019)
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales lambasted the now disbanded U.N.-backed international anti-corruption commission in his General Assembly speech yesterday. Morales said the CICIG infringed on Guatemala's sovereignty and jeopardized "social peace." He called for an investigation into it and a detailed report on its spending, reports the Associated Press. Morales, who was investigated by the commission, as were close relatives, fought against the CICIG for much of his mandate, which ends in January. In his speech yesterday, he criticized the United Nations Secretary General for "polarizing" Guatemala with his defense of the commission, and said CICIG head Iván Velásquez abused the United Nations image to harass and selectively politically persecute people in Guatemala. (El Periódico, Nómada)
The tirade comes on the heels of a newly created congressional commission lawmakers created on Tuesday to investigate the CICIG's work over the 12 years of its mandate -- in particular whether illegal or arbitrary actions violated Guatemalans' rights, to systematize data about potential victims of the CICIG, and to denounce officials and government employees who may have carried out illicit actions in cooperation with the CICIG. Eighty-two deputies voted in favor of the new commission, which will just over three months to audit the CICIG's record. Just six voted against, and 70 were absent. Several of the lawmakers on the new commission are accused of wrongdoing in their parliamentary duties. (Prensa Libre)
The goal is essentially to start judicial processes against Velásquez, local and foreign CICIG employees, and eventually, Guatemalan corruption prosecutors, argues Plaza Pública.
Velásquez said lawmakers were moved by fear and the need to guarantee impunity, rather than sovereignty and dignity. U.S. House of Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elliot Engels tweeted that the efforts to delegitimize the CICIG "are outrageous. I’m keeping a close eye on this troubling development."
Acción Ciudadana asked the Constitutional Court to intervene, arguing that the new commission is unconstitutional and that such an investigation can only be carried out by the public ministry, reports El Periódico.
Earlier this month Velásquez wrote in the Washington Post that Morales' "fear of the CICIG was a recognition of its efficacy." (See also Aug. 29's post on the CICIG's final report on how Guatemala's state is captured by a "mafia coalition.")
Lest anybody doubt Morales' absolute opposition to the United Nations, he also said in his speech that he will not allow the U.N. human rights office to carry out an independent investigation into the deaths of three soldiers that pushed him to declare a state of emergency in several parts of the country earlier this month. (La República, Plaza Pública, see Sept. 5's post.)
Before heading to New York, Morales said he would ask his successor to ban single-use plastics -- that's good, but Guatemala has more pressing environmental issues, including forest fires that appear to be linked to criminal groups, lack of water-use regulation, conflicts regarding extractivist projects, and record rates of assassination for environmental defenders, argues Nómada.
The U.S. announced a new migration deal that will allow immigration officials to send asylum seekers to Honduras if they crossed through that country en route to the U.S. It is the latest in a series of deals with Central American countries -- Guatemala and El Salvador so far -- aimed at permitting U.S. officials to deflect migrants, who overwhelmingly hail from this part of the region. (See Monday's post and Tuesday's.) None of the three agreements has been implemented yet, and they remain in a complex process of legal challenges and parliamentary ratification procedures, notes the BBC.
Though the term "safe third country" has fallen by the wayside, the deals effectively mimic those agreements in which migrants must seek asylum in the first countries they pass deemed adequate, reports Vox. Until recently, the US had this kind of agreement with just one country: Canada. Experts and advocates say the efforts display blatant disregard for U.S. obligations under international law and will put migrants at lethal risk in countries riddled with violence -- where institutions are woefully underprepared to assist and protect asylum seekers.
The Washington Post notes that the Trump administration's eagerness to advance in this vein has led it to negotiate with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who last month was named by U.S. prosecutors as a co-conspirator in a drug case. Hernández's brother is set to stand trial on federal drug trafficking charges in Manhattan within days. At the migration pact signing, U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Hernández who he said is doing a "fantastic" job, reports El Heraldo.
"Over the last four decades, a series of emergency stopgaps and bipartisan deals [in the United States] has created a new multibillion-dollar industry built on the incarceration of immigrants," reports the Guardian in an in-depth piece on the U.S. immigrant detention system.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has sought to establish a friendly relationship with the Trump administration -- the new migration pact is the latest in a series of measures aimed at cooperating with U.S. goals. In exchange El Salvador hopes to obtain protection for 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program -- which Trump has sought to terminate -- and to attract foreign investment, reports the New York Times.
"...For us, the United States is not only a partner and an ally, but also a friend. And we’re going to show that friendship — that’s one of the reasons we signed the agreement is because we want to show that friendship to our most important ally, which is the United States," said Bukele after a meeting with Trump yesterday in New York.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse again refused to step down from his post, but said he would be willing to drop his prime minister candidate and form a unity government. The message was pre-recorded and released at 2 a.m. yesterday. Moïse called for dialogue, and hours later reshuffled his cabinet. But opposition politicians criticized Moïse for not taking any responsibility in his speech for the political and economic crisis shaking Haiti, reports the Miami Herald.
Critics have called for Haitian Sen. Jean Marie Ralph Féthière's immunity from prosecution to be suspended after he shot two people, including Associated Press photojournalist Dieu-Nalio Chéry, outside of Haiti's parliament on Monday, reports the Miami Herald. (See Monday's briefs.)
Five years after 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappeared in Iguala, the government offered a reward for information regarding the whereabouts of their remains. The new prosecutors special investigation unit will cite former officials, including former Guerrero state governor Ángel Aguirre, to declare. (Animal Político, El Universal)
Oaxaca state lawmakers decriminalized abortion, the second Mexican district to do so. (Radio Formula)
Venezuela's government may be gearing up for the massive expropriation of property from millions of Venezuelans living abroad, reports the Miami Herald.
The International Monetary Fund refused to say when it will disburse the last $5.4 billion of a massive loan to Argentina that was originally planned for mid-September, reports the Associated Press. The delay will likely affect scheduled payments from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, according to Infobae.
Argentina's current economic crisis -- the country is running out of hard currency while grappling with high inflation and economic contraction -- is, unfortunately, a tired repetition of a 70-year-old pattern, explains the Wall Street Journal in a deep-dive.
A viral video circulating on social media appears to show an attempted robbery in Argentina -- thwarted when the would-be assailants realize they have pointed the gun at a friend's head. The parties hug and wave goodbye, no harm done. Perhaps what's most relevant is commentary demonstrating the perverse nature of Argentine pride our own perceived uniqueness.
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