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President’s resignation a step forward for democracy and rule of law in Guatemala says ITUC

Friday, September 4th 2015 - 09:09 UTC
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Sharan Burrow, ITUC chief said Guatemala is another example of the deep connections between corruption and violations of labor and other human rights” Sharan Burrow, ITUC chief said Guatemala is another example of the deep connections between corruption and violations of labor and other human rights”

The resignation of Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina following the issuing of an arrest warrant against him for corruption is a positive step towards strengthening democracy and rule of law there, said the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.

 The warrant was issued following a unanimous decision by the country’s Legislative Assembly to strip him of immunity in a customs fraud case which allegedly netted him and his associates millions of dollars.

A special United Nations Commission Against impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) played a crucial role in exposing the involvement of Guatemala’s ruling elite in fraud and corruption. Governments, the ITUC and other groups pushed hard for the Commission to continue its work when its previous mandate expired at the end of 2014.

Víctor Baez Mosqueira, General Secretary of the ITUC Regional Organization for the Americas TUCA, said, “This is a crucial step, and the international community must now keep up the pressure to ensure that democratic institutions and processes are consolidated in Guatemala. Labor rights, social protection and the end of impunity for the authors of crimes against trade unionists and other defenders of democracy over many years are essential to bringing real and lasting change. The people of Guatemala must not be subjected to a continuation of the same rotten system with only cosmetic changes at the top.”

Guatemala has for many years ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for trade unionists, with at least 74 unionists murdered since 2004 and total impunity for those responsible for the killings.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “The situation in Guatemala is yet another example of the deep connections between corruption and violations of labour and other human rights. Those responsible for the corruption also bear a heavy burden of guilt for the reign of terror over those who have stood up for democracy and human rights, and it is high time that they are all brought to justice.”

With national elections scheduled for 6 September, there are concerns that corrupt practices, long a feature of Guatemalan politics, could still play a significant role in the outcome.

The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 328 national affiliates.

Top Comments

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  • Enrique Massot

    A combination of popular protest, legal actions and decisive action by the Legislative Assembly are pretty much unprecedented in Central America as a way to oust a president.
    Otto Pérez Molina did not send the police or thugs to kill demonstrators, which is unusual too. He now faces trial for alleged customs fraud, as it should be.
    Although more change is badly needed for long-suffering Guatemala, the latest events are a step in the right direction.

    Sep 05th, 2015 - 04:39 am 0
  • ChrisR

    @ 1 Kiki Mashed Potato Head

    Are you well, because your post is unique given the sensible manner in which you have written it and the content is very grown up! Well done.

    If only TDC was as strong on democracy, not sham 'democracy', you wouldn't have to lie anymore. That again would be a unique event for you.

    Still, a miracle may happen in October, but I don't believe in miracles only hard work, careful planning and not blaming the innocent. Pity TMBOA believes in the diametric opposite of those values.

    Sep 05th, 2015 - 11:02 am 0
  • Enrique Massot

    #2 Chris
    Appreciate your initial compliment.
    I wish Guatemalans luck. They have suffered long enough and deserve better. Although their road will be bumpy, they have taken a big step towards a stronger democratic system.
    You appear to accuse me of “lying” and you place acronyms I do not recognize but I guess refer to Argentina and Cristina Fernández.
    I will say this: Democracy, with all its imperfections, is slowly taking hold in Latin America. For those of us who still remember remember the 1970s in the south cone of South America, this is sweet to see.
    In October, Argentines will go to the polls again. This in itself is, for those who know what happened in 1955 and lived through the 1960s and 1970s, a big accomplishment--whatever the result of the election.
    I love my country people, wish them the best of lucks, and that is why I hope they choose the Victory Front again in October.

    Sep 05th, 2015 - 08:46 pm 0
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