As Corruption Case Unfolds, Guatemalans Call for President’s Resignation

(Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, Government of Guatemala)
(Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, Government of Guatemala)

Top Story — Thousands of Guatemalans staged a protest in the capital on Saturday, calling for the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina after his vice president stepped down in connection with a large corruption scandal.

The demonstration in Guatemala City, which was accompanied by smaller rallies nationwide, does not appear to have been organized by a specific group, The Associated Press reported, but instead through social media. In addition to calls for Pérez Molina’s resignation, protesters demanded jail time for those among the more than 50 linked so far to a corruption scheme involving diverted customs duties.

Roxana Baldetti resigned on May 8 as vice president after legislators announced an investigation into her role in the scheme could proceed. While she has denied any wrongdoing, her assistant has been named by investigators as the leader of the corruption ring, The Associated Press reported.

Peréz Molina himself has been accused of corruption. Among other claims, an investigation by research firm Southern Pulse highlighted the president’s links to an airline accused of working alongside the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • A group of youths aged 11 to 15 in the Mexican state of Chihuahua tortured and killed a six-year-old boy as part of a game, prosecutors declared over the weekend.
  • A Mexican-American teenager who was kidnapped and taken to Mexico by her father eight years ago was brought back to the United States by her mother, after DNA tests confirmed her identity.
  • In The Guardian, Nina Lakhani profiles members of the so-called “lost generation” — the children of undocumented Mexican immigrants who spent their formative years in the United States but were subsequently deported — chronicling their struggle to adapt to life in a country they may barely remember, with a language they often don’t speak.

Caribbean

  • Cuba repatriated 38 migrants on Sunday, ending the migrants’ weeks-long ordeal of being confined at sea in a U.S. Coast Guard ship.
  • VICE News has a photo-essay of recent student protests in Puerto Rico over proposed education cutbacks.

Central America

  • An executive order has been issued in Costa Rica to protect government employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, Vice President Ana Helena Chacón told a jubilant crowd on Friday afternoon, ahead of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
  • El Salvador’s homicide rate has spiked in recent months, putting the country on pace to become the mostly deadly in the hemisphere, according to The Washington Post.
  • TIME magazine published aerial photos Friday of the new Panama Canal expansion, taken by photographer George Steinmetz.

Andes

  • Members of the opposition in Venezuela — including jailed former mayor of San Cristóbal Daniel Ceballos — held primaries on Sunday in what The Associated Press says “may be their best chance in years to defeat the country’s socialist government.”
  • A bishop in Colombia has drawn the ire of both supporters and opponents of gay marriage, when during a speech in Bogotá he proclaimed that homosexuality is not a sin and that the church embraces homosexuals, but in the process employed a derogatory term to reference gay men.

Southern Cone

  • A Brazilian teachers’ union on Friday voted to extend a strike that has been ongoing since March 16, over demands for increased pay and solutions to overcrowded classrooms.
  • The Colombian government’s decision to halt a U.S.-backed program to spray illegal coca plants with a potentially carcinogenic chemical is the latest example of a growing trend among Latin American countries to turn away from U.S. approaches to combating drug trafficking, according to a report by The New York Times.

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