Despite growing social movement pressure and emerging corruption scandals, President Perez Molina says he will not resign.
Several Guatemalan officials were arrested Wednesday in connection with a series of corruption scandals unfolding in the country as thousands took to the streets in the latest round of protests demanding the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina.
Guatemalan authorities detained Central Bank governor Julio Suarez and issued an arrest warrant for Social Security Institute President and former presidential aide Juan de Dios Rodriguez for fraud, including a health care corruption scandal involving US$14.5 million in medical service contract irregularities. Over a dozen other suspects were also arrested and are being investigated for fraud and other charges.
The prominent arrests follow the resignation of Vice President Roxana Baldetti earlier this month in an unrelated corruption case.
Amid protests and unfolding corruption scandals that have fueled national indignation and discontent with the government, President Perez Molina announced in a press conference that he will not cede to pressure and will not resign as head of state, Prensa Comunitaria reported.
Otto Pérez en conferencia aseguró que no renunciará. No cederá a ninguna presión y no ve presiones del CACIF. pic.twitter.com/XElcC7Lmo3— PrensaComunitaria (@PrensaComunitar) May 20, 2015
“Otto Perez assured in a press conference that he will not resign. He will not give in to any pressure and doesn’t see pressure from CACIF (agricultural and trade organization).”
“Different motives have come together to demand the president's resignation,” Guatemalan political analyst Gustavo Illescas told teleSUR, “including dissatisfaction with the corruption within (Perez) Molina's government, the fact that he made money off of medicine and health services meant for the population, or the fact that he carried out repressive actions against the indigenous and campesino movements.”
Meanwhile, thousands of campesinos and rural indigenous people marched in Guatemala City Wednesday in the latest demonstration of the growing “Renuncia Ya” movement calling for the resignation of President Perez Molina and an end to government corruption.
“It's time for the people to rise up because we have realized that corruption is at all levels within the agencies of the state,” Vicenta Jeronimo, vice president of the Guatemalan rural organization Codeca, told Prensa Latina at the march.
“Indigenous people and campesinos unite today in the capital, demanding Otto Perez Molina #ResignNow, freedom for political prisoners, and more.”
Campesino demonstrators also called for the resignation of the new Vice President Alejandro Maldonado for his role in overturning the guilty verdict in former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt's genocide trial. Maldonado was appointed vice president by Perez Molina's Congress last week following his predecessor's resignation.
“At the moment, the most common demands we are hearing range from the purging of the justice system and the political parties, all the way to the formation of a National Constituent Assembly,” Illescas said.
Slogans at the thousands-strong campesino march included cries of “Out! We're tired of so much robbery, we're the ones from below and we're going for the ones up above,” El Universal reported.
“Otto Perez Guatemala doesn’t want you...Slogan in the 20M campesino and citizen march. #ResignNow”
The “Renuncia Ya” movement has been gaining strength since a customs tax corruption scandal came to light last month. The movement brought 60,000 diverse protesters to the streets on May 16 in the largest demonstration yet.
“Now, as a result of the corruption scandal and the massive protests, we have the opportunity to establish a new pact in which all Guatemalans are included,” said Illescas.