Guatemala. According to Countryaah website, national day of Guatemala is every September 15. Central Bank Governor Lizardo Sosa was kidnapped on February 24 under mysterious circumstances. He was released four days later, but refused to comment on the incident. Rumors said the government negotiated with the kidnappers and paid a “smaller” ransom.
In June, a court approved an international arrest warrant for former President Jorge Serrano Elías, who lives in exile in Panama. He is wanted for embezzlement and abuse of power in connection with his failed coup attempt in 1993, when Congress and the Supreme Court dissolved and he himself was forced to resign.
President Alfonso Portillo, along with his vice president, was charged with illegality. According to newspapers in Guatemala and Panama, he has set up 23 bank accounts and formed four ghost companies in Panama to “launder” illegally obtained money. The scandal grew when three members of the congressional committee investigating the case resigned with the declaration that their work was sabotaged by the members of the committee belonging to the ruling party.
According to the President of the Supreme Court, in 2001, 23 judges faced threats or harassment. The information was given to UN Special Envoy for Legal Independence, Param Cumaraswamy. He stated on his departure that impunity was still prevalent in Guatemala and that the government had no political will to deal with this condition.
In the newspaper Siglo XXI, President Portillo was accused of transferring public funds to his personal bank accounts. There are ongoing reports in the press about public servants involved in fraud and the harassment of the judiciary to prevent the resolution of these cases.
In 2002, the Constitutional Court lifted Ríos Montts and 23 others’ parliamentary immunity. Already in 2001, the Fundación Rigoberta Menchú (FRM) had started a case in the Spanish judicial system against Montt for genocide, torture and disappearance. There was an alternative attempt to prosecute Montt and the other military responsible for the death of 200,000 Guatemalans. That same year, Guillermo Ovalle de León of the FRM was murdered, and a large number of human rights defenders and journalists digging in the case were harassed and attacked.
In 2002, Guatemala and Belice agreed to end the long-standing border dispute between the two countries. The agreement involved the implementation of referendums in both countries. President Portillo was once again charged with public money fraud. Journalists Rodolfo Flores of the Siglo XXI newspaper in Guatemala and Rolando Rodríguez of La Prensa in Panama could reveal that the president, friends and family members had set up bank accounts in Panama and other off-shore tax havens to which the money was transferred. Portillo accused the press of having “party-political motives to overshadow the charges of corruption”.
In 2003, the Spanish authorities gave a green light to the FRM’s trial targeting 6 Guatemalan officers – including Rios Montt – as well as 2 civilians for the murders of 4 Spanish priests and 3 Spanish diplomats. In Guatemala, the human rights organization CALDH filed a lawsuit against Rios Montt for genocide against the indigenous population. Human rights organizations expected the Spanish judiciary to issue international arrest warrants against the accused.
Oscar Berger of the Gran Alianza Nacional party won the election over Álvaro Colom of the Unión Nacional de la Esperanza. The United Nations Monitoring Mission in the country, MINIGUA, issued a report on the circumstances of the election marked by threats, persecution and murder of opposition activists and candidates – especially in the country. Former members of the Civil Defense Patrol contributed enormously to creating this climate of uncertainty – according to. Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA. Supporters of Ríos Montt conducted violent protest actions claiming he had won the election. A number of human rights organizations accused FRG of being behind the events in which a journalist was killed and others wounded.
In his takeover of the presidential post in February 2004, Berger declared that he would restore confidence in the institutions and invest in health, education and technology, fight corruption and implement a population security plan. He also promised to rebuild the country’s productive infrastructure, invest in roads, ports and airports, modernize the police and fight drug trafficking and organized crime.
In his takeover of power, Berger repeatedly invited Rigoberta Menchú and Helen Mack from one of the popular organizations to work with his government. Both ultimately accepted the offer, and the president declared that it was not possible to talk about national unity without implementing the peace agreement. The same year, the government signed an agreement with the UN to set up a commission to investigate illegal and secret security forces responsible for political violence in the country.