By BRANDEN WANG, age 11
Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina resigned after evidence came out that he was involved in a bribery scandal and thousands of Guatemalans protested to have him booted from office.
In April, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, backed by the United Nations, presented evidence of a corruption ring, known as La Línea. The scheme allowed companies importing goods into Guatemala to have lower taxes. Once the scandal was revealed to the public, groups of people in Guatemala City started to protest peacefully for Molina’s resignation.
In August, prosecutors presented new evidence that Pérez Molina was one of La Línea’s ringleaders. On August 27 of this year, Guatemala’s Congress started the process of impeachment. That day, over 10,000 Guatemalans, including the young, old, rich and poor, gathered at Guatemala City’s Constitution Square to pressure the president to resign. Companies and universities supported the cause and closed, letting their workers and students participate.
Pérez Molina also has history in Guatemala as a general in the Guatemalan Civil War, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. Under his leadership, the army was found to be responsible for multiple human rights violations, including 80 percent of the 53,000 civilian deaths resulting from the war.
Mario Ovalle, a lawyer who marched with his daughters, told the Associated Press, “We usually don’t go to protests, because of fear, but now this is sending a message of hope and an opportunity to educate our children, politically.”
Pérez Molina resigned on September 2 and was arrested the following day after a court hearing.
María Luisa Rosal, field organizer for School of the Americas Watch, told Common Dreams, “The resignation is a victory for the people of Guatemala who have been on the streets, not just since April but for decades, struggling to build a counter memory to the impunity that exists in Guatemala.”
Glossary of Terms:
Impeachment: To be removed from public office for corruption or breaking the law.
Impunity: To avoid being punished for a crime or wrongdoing.