Pérez Molina resigned as president of his country on Wednesday of last week and Guatemala cheered. According to reports, hours after resigning, Molina was taken into custody and jailed. Pérez Molina has been accused of playing a major role in a multi-million-dollars customs fraud scheme. This accusation and the successful results of ousting the president makes this one of the biggest political scandals in the nation. Crowds have been protesting at the steps of the presidential offices, the Palacio Nacional, since April, in a peaceful five months effort to remove their corrupt leader from office. After balking at calls for resignation, Pérez Molina, the ex-president now, realized the protesting crowds were not going away.
On Thursday, facing a trial, Pérez Molina waited for hours for a conclusion of an examination of evidence about his involvement in a massive customs fraud case. Judge Galvez signed the court order and Pérez Molina, called “Tito” by those who know him best, was taken to jail and now faces the consequences of his allegations.
After Pérez Molina resigned as president, tens of thousands of people in Guatemala cheered. They had been demanding for months that their president step down and face accusations lawfully. According to sources, Pérez Molina spent the weekend in jail as an accused criminal and the he ex-president declared he would not seek asylum in another country; he would take upon himself the personal responsibility as a citizen to face the legal procedures of his own country. In view of the fact that Pérez Molina himself was the military negotiator to end the nation’s bloody 36-year civil war, all of this seems absurd. But, corruption in politics is not new to Guatemala, nor to the world in general.
Other Latin American countries who have kept a vigil eye to the most recent scandalous incidents in Guatemala have demonstrated their great respect toward the country for what they have been able to accomplish peacefully as a united people. According to media sources, Mexico has expressed their high opinion and look up to the strong political example that Guatemala has set for Latin American countries. Venezuela and Chile also revere the efforts of a dramatic yet successful peaceful demonstration after political justice.
Guatemala has suffered much repression and military corruption at the hands of leaders such as Pérez Molina, especially in the regions of the northern Quiche where the indigenous people are more concentrated. In the past, many of the Mayan people in small colorful villages of Guatemala have suffered the worst massacres committed by military genocides at the hands of political corruption. They now cry again for justice. Thanks to the diligent efforts of their tribal leaders, things are beginning to change. A key representative of the Mayan indigenous people of Guatemala is Rigoberta Menchu, who in 1992 won the Nobel Peace Prize for her intense involvement as an activist. Recently Manchu demanded the ouster and prosecution of Pérez Molina through law suits against his corruptions. The massacres of the 80’s, when US-backed dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was president of Guatemala, brought personal loss to Menchu; she lost her father, her mother, and two brothers. Ríos Montt played a role in the killings of more than 1,700 Ixil Mayan people, according to reports by Democracy Now. Manchu’s efforts also helped bring this criminal to trial. Watch video bellow – an interview with Rigoberta Menchu.
Amid all of this now somewhat settled turmoil for the people of Guatemala, they had their general presidential election yesterday. Attempts had been made to postpone the official voting day, without success. As of 2 May, 2015, official reports indicate that there are 7 million Guatemalans who are eligible to vote. And according to Washington Times, “Rudy Marlon Pineda, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, said final results would be available Monday around midday.”
Now that Pérez Molina has resigned as president and is facing the consequences of his alleged corruption, Guatemala cheers and waits for presidential elections to show their support for a president who can lead this peaceful and united people without corruption.
By Jeanette O’Donnal
BBC: World news – Latin America
NY Times: World – Americas – Otto Perez Molina Guatemalan President Resigns Amid Scandal
News Yahoo: Guatemala Voters Choose President Amid Fraud Scandal
Feature Image Courtesy of Surizar – Flickr Creative Commons License
Video: YouTube license