International review Investigation

Guatemala Revokes UN Anti-Corruption Head’s Visa

Iván Velásquez Jefe de la Comsión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). Source: Félix Acajabón.

This material belongs to: teleSUR.

The decision came after President Jimmy Morales attempted to expel Velasquez from the country in August.

Guatemalan authorities revoked the visa of the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, or Cicig, only months after the UN-backed anti-graft body opened an investigation against President Jimmy Morales into suspected illicit campaign financing.

Cicig director, the Colombian lawyer Ivan Velasquez, now has eight days to find a solution with the Foreign Minister so he can continue to work in the country.

In a letter sent to Cicig’s administrative head German Suazo on Monday, Guatemala Foreign Ministry justified the decision saying that “the visa request was not filled by the relevant person.”

However, the letter did not say whether the state official was allowed to submit another visa request.

Migration authorities stated that Velasquez’ visa expires on Oct. 18, and that he will be able to stay in the country only if he could solve the situation before the deadline.

Guatemala’s Vice President Jafeth Cabrera told reporters that the Foreign Ministry was the institution in charge of solving the administrative issue.

Velasquez, whose tenure is scheduled is due to expire in 2019, had been leading the investigations of corruption charges in the country since 2013.

The decision came after Morales attempted to expel Velasquez from the country in August on the claim that the Cicig was exceeding its mandate by opening a probe against him over corruption charges — but the Constitutional Court eventually canceled the decision.

The CICIG was created in 2007 to help the nation’s criminal justice system fight organized crime, corruption and impunity more effectively. Cicig along with some local prosecutors have made some headway in exposing corruption, earning a reputation for exposing officials and playing a role in forcing the former president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina from office in 2015.

Morales took office in 2016, winning the election on an anti-corruption ticket after the CICIG helped to bring down his predecessor over a multi-million-dollar corruption scandal.