CICIG Comissioner Iván Velásquez

The commissioner of Guatemala's internationally backed anti-impunity body said that authorities expect to uncover government corruption schemes on the same scale as the ones that sent shock waves throughout the Central American nation last year. 

Iván Velásquez, the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG), made the comments at a November 24 event marking the release of the organization's ninth official report.

"We believe that in 2017 we will present investigations as serious and profound as the Cooptation of the State," elPeriódico quoted Velásquez as saying. 

Velásquez was referring to charges brought by CICIG and the Attorney General's Office in June against former President Otto Pérez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti.

The ex-leaders were accused of setting up a network of front companies to accept millions of dollars worth of illicit campaign contributions from businesses and individuals, which they paid back by awarding the donors state contracts and other favors once in power.

Pérez Molina and Baldetti had previously been forced to resign and were later jailed on charges related to a separate scheme known as "La Línea," or "The Line," which allegedly involved them taking a cut of bribes paid by traders to avoid import taxes. The pair have also been linked to other alleged corruption scandals uncovered with CICIG's help.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Velásquez hailed CICIG's work thus far and made the bold promise that future investigations would be as impactful as those involving a former president, he also recognized the ongoing challenges to the commission's work.

"There always exists the threat of the return of impunity," he said. "The processes underway that are keeping well-known figures in prison could be manipulated and diverted to grant them freedom and the return of goods over time."

One obstacle is the continuing influence wielded by what Velásquez and others have referred to as "hidden powers." Velásquez has previously identified what he called "consolidated structures" that can "reach relationships and understandings with each government" in order to continue siphoning public funds for illicit private enrichment through corruption schemes.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

The CICIG commissioner said that previous investigations have provided insight as to how these structures function and how to dismantle them, but he also noted that judicial reforms will be necessary in order to improve the effectiveness of such efforts.

"We cannot pretend that different results would be obtained using the same rules and doing things in the same way," he said.

In addition to their continued ability to operate in a clandestine manner, these structures may also be able to interfere with ongoing investigations and prosecutions by means of threats and intimidation. For instance, shortly after the Cooptation of the State case became public, Attorney General Thelma Aldana received death threats.

For these reasons, both Velásquez and Aldana asked Guatemalan officials and citizens for their continued support as new investigations move forward.

Speaking to judicial officials, Velásquez said, "We want to call on you to contribute actively in the process of the moral restoration of the republic, denouncing those who pressure or even subtly intimidate. No more fears! No more silence! A new citizenry supports you."

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.