News You Really Need To See: “Resignation Shadows Guatemala Politics”

“Resignation Shadows Guatemala Politics”

The New York Times, May 11, 2015, p.A6

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/world/americas/roxana-baldettis-resignation-shadows-guatemala-politics.html?_r=0

“The resignation of Guatemala’s vice president has plunged the country’s politics into disarray, with a presidential election in September and the public growing more indignant over corruption.  Vice President Roxana Baldetti, 52, stepped down on Friday, and at the request of the attorney general’s office, a judge ordered her on Saturday not to leave the country. … Swirling around Ms. Baldetti is a customs fraud scandal involving bribes paid by importers to have the duties on shipments reduced.  Ms. Baldetti has not been charged in the case but her former private secretary, Juan Carlos Monzón Rojas, has been accused by prosecutors of running the bribery ring. … The allegations about the fraud scheme were announced on April 16 by a United Nations-sponsored panel of international prosecutors. The panel, known by its Spanish acronym Cicig, has been working since 2007 to help Guatemalan officials tackle entrenched corruption networks, many of them rooted among former military officers from the civil war that ended in 1996.  The news of the fraud scheme prompted protests demanding the resignations of the president and vice president, and it gave new impetus to calls for the panel’s mandate, which ends in September, to be renewed.  [Guatemalan president Otto] Pérez Molina, a retired army general, had been reluctant to allow Cicig to continue, despite support for its work from the United States.  But a week after the panel revealed the customs scheme, he said he would ask the United Nations to extend Cicig for two years.”

Quickie analysis:  At least it’s good to see a low-profile UN initiative getting results.

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