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News > Latin America

Guatemalan President Blocks Entry of Head of UN Anti-Graft Body

  • Ivan Velasquez has been banned from entering Guatemala but the anti-corruption commission still enjoys popular support.

    Ivan Velasquez has been banned from entering Guatemala but the anti-corruption commission still enjoys popular support. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 September 2018

The Guatemalan government denied Ivan Velasquez, head of CICIG, entry to the country calling him a "threat to national security."  

The Guatemalan government has issued an order to all airlines barring Ivan Velasquez, head of the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) from boarding any plane with Guatemala as a destination.

Guatemala: UN 'Concerned' Over Termination of Anti-Graft Body

Raquel Vicente, the coordinator of Migration Control, issued an official statement Tuesday requesting airlines “take the pertinent measures to prevent Mr. Ivan Velasquez (from boarding) any flight with the Republic of Guatemala as a destination.”

The statement was issued after the government announced it was prohibiting Velasquez’s entry to the country arguing he is a threat to national security following president Jimmy Morales’ decision to not renew CICIG's mandate and the work visas for the members of the CICIG.

Velasquez was outside the country on a work-related trip to present a report of the Commission’s work.

“For the reason of public order and security Mr. Velasquez, who is of Colombian nationality, is prohibited from entering national territory,” the statement reads.  

Morales has also called on the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a new head for CICIG. Guterres issued a request, however, for Velasquez to continue directing anti-corruption efforts from abroad “until there is more clarity on the situation.”

Guatemala Responds After President Attacks Anti-Corruption Body

Hours after the government barred Velasquez from entering the country, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court received six legal complaints calling for the decision to be reversed and to protect Velasquez.  

President Morales’ animosity towards the commission is not new. Last year, Morales tried to expel Ivan Velasquez from the country but was unable to do so after a Constitutional Court ruling and in 2017 Congress passed legislation that granted the president immunity against corruption or embezzlement inquiries.

The most recent actions against the commision come after Congress announced it would investigate Morales to determine whether to lift his immunity from prosecution to enable a trial over illegal financing allegations during his 2015 election campaign.  

Investigations by the CICIG have implicated Morales and many of his close associates, including his brother and his son in cases of corruption. Morales’ son Jose Manuel and his brother Sammy are facing trial for defrauding the state in 2013.  

Guatemalan human rights activist Claudia Samayoa has warned that the decision presents a threat to the people and a return to the state repression of the 1980s. She told EFE that the fact that the National Security Council determined that someone in Guatemala is “an internal enemy” amounts to “a break in the constitutional order.”

Morales announced his move against the CICIG while surrounded by members of the army. A move Samayoa claims goes against “the civilian nature of the executive power.”

Morales’ former Minister of the Interior Francisco Rivas also criticized the president saying: “he has betrayed his values in detriment to the population that trusted you, favoring the interests of the corrupt who have kept Guatemala underdeveloped and in poverty.”

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