Michael Camilleri in Americas Quarterly: “All Eyes on Guatemala as Crisis Brews Ahead of Elections”

Michael Camilleri in Americas Quarterly: “All Eyes on Guatemala as Crisis Brews Ahead of Elections”

“It’s not every day that a purportedly friendly foreign nation tries to intimidate the United States by dispatching a fleet of military vehicles to the U.S. Embassy. It is rarer still for the vehicles in question to have been donated by the United States itself and diverted from their intended mission of combatting crime and narcotics trafficking. And it is perhaps unprecedented that such a turn of events would elicit only a tepid response from the U.S. government, followed a short while later by the transfer of additional military jeeps to the foreign government in question.

“To say that the Trump Administration’s approach toward Guatemala has taken some bizarre turns in recent months is something of an understatement. At the root of the U.S. policy whiplash is a dispute between Guatemala’s unpopular lame duck president Jimmy Morales and the country’s UN-backed anticorruption watchdog, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Created in 2007 to buttress Guatemala’s police, prosecutors and judges who were being overrun by organized crime, it has saved Guatemala’s democracy on more than one occasion—uncovering a Hollywood-style suicide plot before it could bring down former President Álvaro Colom and uncovering the customs fraud scheme that sent his successor Otto Pérez Molina to jail. Stirred out of their cynicism with politics as usual, Guatemalan citizens rallied en masse to support CICIG and demand an end to corruption…”.

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