Happy Independence Day, Guatemala!
Posted on 15 September 2015
This year, Independence Day takes on a special significance for Guatemala. These are historic, extraordinary days. After months of peaceful public protests demanding that President Otto Pérez Molina – a former special forces soldier and the ex-leader of a military intelligence unit linked to allegations of human rights abuse – resign, he stepped down from office, charged with corruption, illicit association and bribery linked to a multimillion-dollar customs scam.
The work of the UN-backed team of prosecutors and investigators, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), led to the eventual arrest of Pérez Molina after Congress unanimously stripped him of his immunity of office. Identified as a flight risk, he was ordered to await trial in small cell at a military barracks.
We honor the unity and solidarity of Guatemala's citizens and their commitment to reform. More than 70% of the population turned out to vote in the already-scheduled presidential election last week. A runoff election between the two frontrunners, comedian Jimmy Morales and former first lady Sandra Torres is scheduled for October 25.
The winner will assume the office of president in a new era of political change. Things are not as they used to be in Guatemala.