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Sat Aug 29, 2015, 09:30 PM

Bid to lift Guatemala president's immunity advances in Congress

Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:37pm EDT

Bid to lift Guatemala president's immunity advances in Congress


Aug 29 A Guatemalan congressional committee on Saturday recommended that President Otto Perez be stripped of immunity from prosecution over his suspected involvement in a customs racket, paving the way for a full vote in Congress in the coming days.

The five-member congressional committee told a news conference that Congress could vote on their recommendation as early as Tuesday. Presidential immunity can be lifted with a vote in favor by at least two-thirds of the 158-member Congress.

That vote will be closely watched after the Guatemalan Supreme Court on Tuesday approved a request by Guatemala's attorney general to impeach the president.

If Congress votes to lift his immunity, the Supreme Court then turns the matter to prosecutors, who would then able to bring charges against him in court.


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Reply Bid to lift Guatemala president's immunity advances in Congress (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 2015 OP
forest444 Aug 2015 #1
Judi Lynn Aug 2015 #2
Judi Lynn Aug 2015 #3

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 10:04 PM

1. "I'm ok, Mr. Fielding. I have been prosecuted so many times, I have developed an immunity."

Politics imitating art yet again.

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Response to forest444 (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 10:57 PM

2. Wow, forest444. They discussed "false positives" before we had ever heard of this tactic!

Dressing Woody in the clothing of the rebels and killing him. Where have we heard of this before. Wow. I guess Woody did know a little bit about "politics" in motion back then.

Outstanding. Thank you. It was a great spot in the evening.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Aug 30, 2015, 03:04 AM

3. You remember some people were asking very direct questions about Perez Molina's career

during the war upon the indigenous Mayan people during his campaign. To his great advantage, he became the President and appeared to have received immunity in this position.

It would stand to reason, if he is removed from office, it won't be so easy for him to hide his own history so well, any longer.

The Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 373

Posted - March 23, 2012

. . .

The public biography of Pérez Molina is silent on the matter.6 The little that is known about his past reflects the career of a talented and ambitious military man. He was an operations officer who came of age in the 1970s and rose from unit commander to Director of Operations (D-3), chief of the Kaibil training center and head of the Presidential General Staff. He was a product of the U.S. School of the Americas and left a trail of high marks and glowing evaluations. In the early 1990s, a power struggle inside the army landed him as head of the Intelligence Directorate, where he made his first real impression on the wider public when then president Jorge Serrano attempted an autogolpe, or internal coup, in 1993. Pérez Molina’s successful opposition to Serrano’s power grab made him stand out as a moderate among extremists, pitting him against the cabal of powerful intelligence officers known as the Cofradía (Brotherhood) that backed Serrano.

The United States took notice, and reports from U.S. defense attachés posted in Guatemala in the mid-1990s bubbled with enthusiasm and praise: one of the “Best and the Brightest,” said one cable, “intelligent, hard-working, dedicated and principled . . . unflappable under pressure, has strong command presence and possesses great self-confidence.” U.S. officials also noticed his role in the counterinsurgency, calling him one of a group of military progressives “with blood stains on their hands.”7 He was a “reformer,” not a hard-liner, a strategist, not a tactician, who believed in stabilization and pacification, what Guatemala scholar Jennifer Schirmer has called the “enlightened repression” of brutal military violence combined with population control, civic action, and development: the “Beans and Bullets” strategy of the Ríos Montt regime.8

There is no public information about where Pérez Molina served during the scorched-earth campaigns. He claims he arrived in Nebaj after the massacres in late 1982 with the goal of protecting devastated villagers, though he has refused to confirm the exact dates of his deployment.9 But the army’s own records of Operación Sofía, a violent counterinsurgency sweep through the Ixil triangle in July and August 1982, contain evidence of his presence on the field of battle. A report written on July 22 describes then major Pérez Molina and another officer, Major Arango Barrios—both listed as “paracaidistas,” the special airborne troops that led Sofía—attached to a patrol in a confrontation with “the enemy” near the settlements of Salquil and Xeipum. According to the document, the patrol killed four civilians in the clash, and “captured” 18 old people and 12 children. In a second Operación Sofía document, Pérez Molina appears as his alias, Major Tito, being transported by helicopter with another Paracaidista officer on July 27 between villages inside the killing zone.10

The Operación Sofía records, along with a key military strategy document called Plan Victoria 82 that prosecutors obtained after years of litigation, now serve as evidence in the criminal case against Ríos Montt. But by and large the Guatemalan army has successfully maintained its iron grip on its files and has avoided releasing information about the war on “national security” grounds. When Colom declared in 2008 that he believed historic military records should be available to the public, the Defense Ministry responded by creating a Commission on Military Archives that reviewed the army’s holdings for disclosure. In June the military opened what it says are 11,000 documents and established a reading room where the public can consult the material. It is a limited step toward accountability, to say the least. Although there is no guide or index explaining the contents of the archive, the army has already admitted that it includes no records from the critical period from 1980 to 1985.

Ever the operator, Pérez Molina has found a way to use the military’s continued secrecy to undermine the history of the war as established by the truth commission. In a televised conversation in July with Martín Rodríguez, director of the online news service Plaza Público, the retired general argued that precisely because the army refused to engage with the CEH and would not turn over its records to investigators, the commission was unable to arrive at the truth of what happened.


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