Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for the owner of several television channels in Guatemala on charges that she took part in an illegal campaign finance scheme, another sign that the country’s drive to end impunity is affecting a once untouchable economic elite.
Alba Elvira Lorenzana Cardona is the legal owner of channels 3, 7, 11 and 13 in Guatemala. She is the wife of Mexican businessman Remigio Ángel González. The warrant issued by Interpol is based on accusations that Lorenzana funneled approximately $23,363,000 to President Otto Pérez Molina’s conservative Patriotic Party (PP). In exchange for the financing, the administration allegedly favored her companies with 69 percent of the government’s advertising from January 2012 to April of 2015, reported La Prensa Libre.
The family’s collection of television channels represents a near-monopoly on commercial stations in Guatemala. Media outlets in the country cannot be foreign owned, which is why the firms — and the warrants issued by Interpol and the Guatemala government — are in Lorenzana’s name.
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The media empire of Cardona’s husband, Ángel González, has been the center of controversy in Central America in the past.
In 2001, Rick Rockwell of American University and Noreene Janus, an independent consultant, published an analysis of González’s business activity in Guatemala and Nicaragua. The researchers found his stations often modified their editorial lines to please the host governments. They also found that González’s media group had a tendency to squeeze out opposition voices, concluding that “González’s ownership practices create an atmosphere that undercuts the development of democracy.”
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González’s media empire, Albavisión, named for his wife, does business in 14 countries that include the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. He owns 107 companies throughout the Americas. According to a 2003 interview with the Associated Press, Gonzalez was at the time worth an estimated $350 million. Residing in Miami, Florida, the media mogul has not been directly implicated in the scandal surrounding his wife.
This campaign finance case is just one of several corruption investigations targeting Pérez Molina, his vice president, Roxana Baldetti, and numerous other members of the former administration. While the other cases involve mostly bureaucrats and politicians, the campaign finance case has brought unprecedented scrutiny to members of Guatemala’s economic elite.