Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Trump Is Backing His Scandalous Ally In Guatemala

News related to Guatemala typically doesn’t generate much buzz with foreign-policy analysts or international media. However, if there is a tie-in to Donald Trump, it has a chance of gaining exposure.

Unfortunately, a brilliant report by McClatchy didn’t receive the attention that it deserved. It pointed to an underhanded diplomacy gesture by the Trump administration to minimize Guatemala’s independent anti-corruption organization, CICIG.

Long story short, the extensive corruption within the Guatemalan government prompted the creation of the CICIG, which is backed by the U.N. The list of high-level Guatemalan officials who have caught in these types of scandals is quite lengthy. It includes the ex-Presidents, Otto Perez Molina, Alvaro Colom, and Alfonso Portillo.  

Likewise, the former Vice President, Roxana Baldetti, is facing corruption charges, along with allegations that she accepted a $250,000 bribe from the Zetas cartel. The former Minister of the Interior also allegedly accepted a $1.5 million bribe from Los Zetas.

Again, this list can go on forever. Hence, there’s an absolute necessity to maintain the strength and independence of the CICIG. However, the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, has taken several measures to tear down this institution.

Jimmy Morales - Flickr - US Embassy in Guatemala

In particular, Morales tried to deport the head of the CICIG, Ivan Velasquez, who is a Colombian. The reason being, Morales and his family are the targets of a wide range of political scandals. Much like Trump, he has tried to paint these scandals as “fake news.” They range from money laundering, links to drug traffickers, corruption, campaign finance laws, and more.

Anyhow, did the thought of deporting the head of the CICIG remind you of the Comey firing? Well, there are numerous other apt comparisons. In fact, there are too many to list in a blog post. However, I have an article with openDemocracy, “Trump-style Latin American Leaders,” which details the many uncanny resemblances between the Trump and Morales administrations. (A series of sexual assault allegations have been directed at Morales since that article was published.)

Morales responded, in kind, by moving the Guatemalan embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and that certainly showed solidarity with Trump. With that in mind, the McClatchy article pointed to pressure exerted by the Trump administration to weaken the CICIG in a variety of ways. All in all, this is another example of the disgraceful transactional foreign policy of the Trump administration. 

Even more despicable is the administration that is being enabled by the U.S. government. A recent article, “The Assassinations of Indigenous Leaders in Guatemala Trigger Fear as Political Cycle Begins,” in Truthout by Jeff Abbott absolutely drives home the point.

I’d definitely recommend reading that article, along with the aforementioned McCarthy article, to understand the extreme implications associated with this decision by the Trump administration. Unfortunately, it falls in line with so many other disastrous foreign policy decisions that have propped up so many tyrants, kleptocrats, dictators, etc.

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