Guatemalan protests force president’s arrest

Guatemala’s public protests achieved their desired goal on Sept. 1., when the Guatemalan congress lifted President Otto Perez Molina’s immunity against charges of corruption.

This 132-0 unanimous vote marks the first time a Guatemalan president has lost immunity.

On April 16, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a corruption investigation agency, reported that the president and his administration were involved in a corruption scandal. The CICIG found that the customs office accepted bribes from different businesses in order to evade taxes. According to NBC News, the customs office has received more than $3.5 million in bribes.

This scandal triggered protests across the nation asking for the president’s resignation.

“Guatemalans got tired of corrupted politicians,” Mario Escobar, junior business management major from Guatemala, said. “August 27 was a historical day for Guatemalans because the whole country decided to stop labors and protest.”

Even though this political crisis reveals corruption, Karen Carrera, sophomore business administration major from Guatemalan,  said the situation is creating a positive outcome.

“This situation united Guatemalans to fight against one of the biggest problems our government has,” she said.

Carrera explained that, in the past, protesters were fragmented. People from different professions created their own groups and went out to protest. She explained that lack of unity also came from factors such as differences in age, motivation and social class.

“This time was different. People decided to leave their differences and went out to protest for the same cause,” she said.

News about the president’s failure to achieve immunity soon swept the country through pictures, posts, tweets and other media.

Perez Molina’s spokesman, Jorge Ortega, said that Perez’s resignation does not mean he is accepting the charges.

Now the court has called President Perez to face the charges of fraud, illicit association and corruption related to an alleged multi-million-dollar customs fraud, according to the Washington Post.

Many Guatemalans are celebrating the actions that the government is taking in order to solve this problem.

“This situation shows that the law is applicable to all people,” said Enrique Lopez, freshman chemistry major from Guatemala.

Guatemalans are now focused on the elections for the new president. The initial election took place this past Monday and a runoff election is scheduled for Oct. 25.

The candidates are Jimmy Morales, Manuel Baldizon and Sandra Torres.