This material belongs to: OCCRP.
Guatemala’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered Congress to consider lifting President Jimmy Morales’ immunity from prosecution after evidence emerged that his campaign received illegal financing.
Morales, a former comedian and Guatemalan President since 2016, was accused by the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) of secretly receiving US$ 825,000 for his 2015 campaign, according to Al Jazeera.
In response, Morales tried to expel the head of the Commission, Ivan Velasquez, from the country.
While Morales publicly stood in solidarity with Velasquez and the CICIG during his presidential campaign, he immediately rescinded his allegiance toward the organization once it started building a corruption case against him.
After threatening Morales with impeachment, the CICIG started building another corruption case against Morales’ son and brother. The CICIG’s decision to persistently investigate the Morales family and their dubious monetary involvements is what led Morales to call for Velasquez’ expulsion from the country.
Civil society and Guatemalan courts are fighting Morales’ decision to get rid of Velasquez and have temporarily lifted Velasquez’ expulsion order.
Velasquez “meddled in domestic affairs that are the sole responsibility of the Guatemalan state,” Morales said in defense of his decision to declare Velasquez a “persona non grata” in Guatemala, according to the BBC.
The CIDIG was established after ex-president Otto Perez Molina and ex-vice president Roxana Baldelti were caught in a high-profile corruption scandal in 2015.
From its inception, the CICIG has successfully exposed the country’s political and business elite involved in clandestine transactions. Over 100 former Guatemalan cabinet members are currently facing trial thanks to the organization’s efforts.
“As the head of the UN’s International Commission Against impunity, Velasquez is an essential voice in calls against corruption,” said Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations.