Guatemala could be in the presence of a change in time and History. The people are asking for justice on the streets since some months. However, the battle that began on April 16 has reached its objective and the entire country is celebrating the victory because the Government has been overthrown after decades of corruption and impunity.
The media has already being named this new struggle time in Guatemala as «The Spring of Dissatisfaction. » And, the fight has been in crescendo since the very moment that the first traces of La Línea (The Line) case brought out, resulting in the overthrow of the firm hand of the Otto Pérez Molina and Roxana Baldetti presidential couple, after the resignation of the second-in-command and subsequently the reluctant resignation of the president. Both of them are in prison at present.
They both were the major figures in the greatest crisis of lack of governability that Guatemala has been living during the last months, and which led to the resignation of several ministers.
The Line is not the only case of corruption in Guatemala, and perhaps it won’t be the biggest case; however and without doubts, it will be remembered as the time when a generation became weary to the limit and it changed the country and provoked the overthrow of the Government.
The One, The Boss or The Landlord?
The investigations began on May, 2014, after suspecting that a large group of importers were involved in smuggling activities using a net of customs officers who helped them to evade the real payment of taxes.
For achieving this purpose, the net gave a telephone number to the importers, and this telephone number was known as The Line. The analysis and interpretation of the information collected from more than 66.000 tap telephones, showed that part of the framework was composed of officials from the Superintendence of the Tax Administration (SAT)
According to the investigations carried out until now, Otto Pérez Molina and Roxana Baldetti commanded the executive of The Line. The Attorney’s General office (MP) and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig), that were in charge of the investigations, revealed that last April that both leaders were the heads of a criminal network that undermined the incomes that the State should collect from the main customs in Guatemala.
The objectives of the network were to charge businessmen and customers in the different Guatemalan customs with bribery, and in return, there was a modification in the tax amount that the importers had to pay to the Internal Revenue Service. Though, the exact figure generated by this project is unknown, the investigation proved that they were able to «collect» 330.000 dollars in only two weeks.
The connections of the governmental duet came out during the second stage of the investigation, and they are consistent with top telephones and the documentation impounded.
The Chief of the Committee of Inquiry Iván Velásquez described as «very probable» that the nicknames of «The One, The Boss or the Landlord» match with the former president. The nicknames were mentioned in telephone talks that reveal the close relation between the former president and the former vice-president as member of the organization.
The sale receipts of cars for Pérez, and other receipts related to the acquisition of properties and flight tickets for the trips of the governmental representatives before they were elected, were impounded in properties of the former private secretary of Baldetti, and head of the network Juan Carlos Monzón who is still a fugitive, and for his capture a reward has been offered.
The amount of six checks issued on the name of Baldetti, which represent a total of several thousands of dollars, were confiscated to other impounded persons, like Salvador Estuardo González Álvarez, known as Eco, and recognized as the leader of the external framework of The Line.
The inquiries showed that even the relation of Pérez and Baldetti with the network was began a long time before 2012, and what can be gathered from that is that the electoral campaign of them in 2011, was supported by the business.
The People´s Awareness
«Guatemala is your Landlord, and Guatemala fires you, Otto Pérez Molina! » was one of the main slogans heard during the national protests, where nearly all sectors in the country, in the capital and in the administrative departments, converged.
A single event in Facebook lighted the spark through a call to a demonstration that took place last April 25, after the revelation of the corruption scandal that reached the Government. Nearly 30.000 persons attended the first demonstration with the participation of the families, students, retire persons and indigenous.
The protest rallies were spreading so fast and in so many amounts as the revelations of corruption. A common objective and a unanimous shout brought together more than 100.000 Guatemalan people, according to conservative calculations, in a request without antecedents that resounded in the entire world: the resignation of President Pérez Molina, who was reluctant to renounce, ignoring all the time the people’s clamor.
University students, doctors, farmers, students, teachers, religious people, indigenous, businessmen, children, elderly people, family, even the policemen were protagonists in this demonstrations.
According to the Nobel Peace prizewinner and Guatemalan native leader Rigoberta Menchú, that social convulsion is the awareness of the angry people in front of the state corruption. «This is a civic example. This country has been divided by the violence, by the tragedy, by the deception; today, it has been united. »
Go to the Polls
The Guatemalans went to the pols last Sunday, September 6 for electing the next President who should guide the country from January 14 onwards.
More than 7.5 million of Guatemalans will elect 158 deputies, 20 legislators to the Central America Parliament and 338 local governments.
Translated by ESTI