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News > Latin America

Guatemalans Protest President Morales After Murder of Social Leader

  • A sign reads

    A sign reads "Jimmy Morales to court for the state crime against community leader Luis Arturo Marroquin," during a protest against the Guatemalan president. | Photo: Prensa Comunitaria

Published 13 May 2018

Luis Arturo Marroquin was shot dead by masked men shortly after President Jimmy Morales criticized his organization.

Guatemalans are yet again protesting President Jimmy Morales, demanding his resignation and justice for social leaders that have been murdered or arrested in the past months.


Guatemala: Social Leader Luis Marroquin Murdered

Luis Arturo Marroquin, one of the leaders of Guatemala's Campesino Development Committee (Codeca), was shot dead in a bookshop in San Luis Jilotepeque, east of Guatemala City, by two men covering their faces.

Marroquin was a social leader and human rights defender, and his involvement with the Codeca, a group antagonistic to the government, is raising suspicions that his murder might have been politically motivated.

In a public statement, Codeca noted that Marroquin was a human rights defender and member of the committee's leadership. They called his murder “cowardly,” as he was found “with several bullet wounds in the back."

Before his murder, Codeca accused Morales of "strengthening hatred and resentment" against the organization, instead of seeking the unity among the people. “Although these attacks against fellow defenders hurt, they don't intimidate us. We will fight harder to achieve our dreams and that of many murdered comrades," he said.

“Given the political unstable climate of the country, citizens are protesting over the Sixth Avenue and in front of the National Palace.

'Jimmy Morales to court!'

Ana Cristina Alvarado”

Demonstrators made Morales responsible for Marroquin's murder and demanded a trial for what they called a “state crime.” They also demanded the president to backtrack on the decision to expel the Swedish and Venezuelan ambassadors.

Guatemala's Foreign Ministry demanded the Swedish and Venezuelan diplomatic missions change their ambassadors.

"Because Ambassadors Anders Kompass and Elena Alicia Salcedo Poleo have, in the course of their work, assumed attitudes that result in interference in the internal affairs of Guatemala, the governments of Sweden and Venezuela have been asked to withdraw them," Guatemala's foreign ministry said in a statement, without giving further details.

Sandra Jovel, Guatemala's foreign minister, accused the Swedish Ambassador Anders Kompass of calling the Central American country “a corrupt society,” and government sources say Elene Salcedo, the Venezuelan ambassador to Guatemala, was expelled for her alleged links with the Codeca.

Morales has long time criticized the Codeca and has even made them responsible for deaths that have occurred during their political activities. On their part, the Codeca is just one of many organizations asking for Morales' resignation, as every time more evidence and testimonies emerge regarding illegal financing of his 2015 campaign.

Reportedly, Salcedo is in good terms with the agrarian organization, and Guatemalan media outlets close to the government have frequently attacked the Codeca on those terms.

The president became embroiled in a dispute with the United Nations earlier this year when its anti-corruption body CICIG tried to impeach him. Morales avoided impeachment, but failed to expel the head of CICIG after criticism from the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

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