Monthly Event Reports
February 2023 | Electoral court rejects candidacy of indigenous leader
The Electoral Tribunal rejected the candidacy of Thelma Cabrera, an Indigenous woman and leader, on the grounds that her running mate failed to produce proof that no corruption cases were open against him. Critics have underlined that other politicians have been allowed to register their candidacies even with open cases against them and have argued that Cabrera has been subject to discriminatory treatment. Supporters blocked national highways to protest the rejection of Cabrera’s candidacy and called upon the Constitutional Court to resolve an appeal to the Tribunal’s ruling. Cabrera had previously participated in the 2019 elections and obtained 10 per cent of the votes. Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America have highlighted the need for electoral authorities to apply equal standards to all candidacies and ensure a level playing field for all political hopefuls. In addition to Cabrera, they brought attention to the rejection of the candidacy of a right-wing politician, expressing concern about apparent efforts to undermine candidates from the opposition.
December 2022 | Former President found guilty and sentenced in corruption scandal
Former president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, was found guilty of racketeering and fraud regarding the “La Línea” corruption scandal involving the country’s customs system. The accusations against him detailed that bribes were received in exchange for waiving import duties for certain businesses during his term in office (2012-2015). His vice president, Roxana Baldetti, was also convicted. The former president has stated he will appeal the sentence of 16 years of imprisonment. Findings on the “La Línea” scandal were part of a wider inquiry into corruption in government structures that was initially supported by a United Nations anti-corruption commission (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG), before its mandate was ended by former president Jimmy Morales in 2019, amid investigations into his own administration.
August 2022 | Renowned journalist arrested
Renowned journalist José Rubén Zamora, founder of El Periodico newspaper and an outspoken critic of government, has been arrested for money laundering and blackmail. The journalist and his family argue the charges are part of a retaliation against him for his criticism of President Alejandro Giammattei, and his arrest occurs in a context of repression of dissent, including harassment of journalists and public officials with opposing views. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has expressed concern for these events, including attacks against freedom of expression online, and has called upon the government to ensure that freedom of expression can be exercised without undue restrictions. United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has expressed concern for the wellbeing of Zamora.