The former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina on Wednesday accused the United States of being involved in steps that led to what he described to be a “soft coup” against him, and which landed him in jail due to allegations that he is the head of the corruption scandal known as “La Linea” or the The Line.
"There are many things behind this. It is not only what you saw in the hearing. There is a series of interests of another type, I would say including geopolitical interests, not only in Guatemala, but extending to Honduras and El Salvador," he told CNN in an exclusive interview.
The former head of state accused the United States of exerting pressure on the United Nations investigating commission to involve him in the scandal, which prompted massive protests demanding his resignation and forcing many cabinet ministers and high officials to step down.
The Line refers to a phone hotline used by importers to avoid paying customs duties in exchange for bribes, which were then funneled into the private accounts of government officials.
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“In reality we see the CICIG (the U.N.'s International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala) as an intervention of United States,” he said. “So it is the United States meddling, because it is they who are giving orders to the commission.”
Perez Molina finally bowed to pressure last week and resigned as president, but only after the Guatemalan congress voted in favor of stripping him of his immunity to face trial for corruption. Immediately after, a judge ordered a travel ban on the former president and then a warrant for his arrest was issued.
In August, Reuters said United States had pressured Perez Molina into supporting the CICIG.
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The British news agency said that President Barack Obama began imposing conditions on a plan to boost the economies of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Obama reportedly told Perez Molina that if he didn't approve extending the mandate of the CICIG that Guatemala would not get any of the funds linked to the US$20 billion plan to increase jobs, infrastructure and boost the economy in order to reduce migration to the United States.
Perez Molina also recently revealed that Washington and even President Obama himself opposed his proposal to decriminalize drugs in the Central American region, and that they boycotted a meeting in 2012, when his plan was going to be discussed by the presidents of the area.
The former head of state also insisted Wednesday that he is innocent, and added that the steps leading up to his resignation and detention mirrored steps of a “soft coup.”
He told CNN that the case against him is politically motivated, saying it's no coincidence that they forced him out of government when he was preparing to kick out of Guatemala the U.N. commission.
"The CICIG has been an instrument that has served others, but not to strengthen justice," he said. "Today, the CICIG, we see it really as an interference of the United States, who were the ones who most pressured for it. So I responded to the interference of the United States, who are the ones who are practically ordering the commissioner here," he reiterated.
Perez Molina said, "History will be the judge. These are difficult, hard, complicated moments, but there are millions of Guatemalans who have been served well during the past three years, eight months."
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