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For month President Jimmy Morales tried to rid Guatemala of the CICIG anti-corruption commission, but experienced strong public backlash.
After months of trying to ban the anti-corruption commission from carrying out its international mandate, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales Wednesday finally allowed the International Commission against Corruption in Guatemala (CICIG) members to continue their work.
CICIG got immediately to work Wednesday hearing a case of ‘manipulation of justice’ involving the murder of Jose Armando Melgar Moreno, father of a pro-government legislator, Herberth Melgar Padilla.
Commission spokesperson, Matias Ponce, told EFE: "There are still situations of risk and lack of protection (for CICIG members) caused by the government decisions” to initially block the group.
The committee was created in 2006 on agreement between the United Nations and the Guatemalan state to function as an oversight committee to prevent corruption and bring corruption cases to justice.
CICIG has been trying to investigate the current president for alleged corruption and embezzlement since at least August 2017 when the state’s attorney uncovered evidence that Morales had received illicit campaign funds of up to US$1 million from private businesses for his 2015 electoral campaign.
"The institutions of the justice system and related entities are called upon to provide the necessary support so that the Commission's leaders can fully and safely carry out the functions entrusted to them," concluded Ponce.
Since entering office Morales has been trying to do away with CICIG. He stepped up his efforts last August vowing not to renew the CICIG mandate set to expire in September 2019 as CICIG tried for a third time to strip the president of his political immunity, protected by the pro-government Guatemalan Congress. The president claimed the commission had somehow “violated” national and international law.
Since then, Morales blocked the reentry of CICIG director Ivan Velazquez, into Guatemala and revoked the visas of all commission members. The Constitutional Court ordered the ban to be lifted, but Morales defied the judicial order and as recent as Jan. 7 of this year the government gave commission officials 24 hours to leave the country.
It’s unclear if the government has renewed the visas for an Argentine security contingent that was assigned to protect CICIG members against retaliators which Guatemalan authorities let expire on Jan. 17.