Hundreds of Guatemalans took to the streets to celebrate the arrest of former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and the call for an impeachment process against President Otto Perez Molina Friday for high-level involvement in a major fraud scheme.
Protesters carried placards and chanted slogans such as “out with the corrupt” and “one hundred years in jail for Perez and Baldetti for stealing the life of all Guatemalans,” EFE reported, as the news brought new vigor to the months-long show of popular outrage.
The celebratory protests come as the attorney general and the anti-impunity body CICIG uncovered new evidence through wiretap recordings that decisively pointed to Perez Molina and Baldetti as the masterminds behind the fraud network known as La Linea operating in the country’s tax authority.
Guatemalan congress voted last week to uphold Perez Molina’s presidential immunity from trial after an investigative commissions met various delays. But the new evidence of the president’s involvement in fraud led prosecutors to urge for the impeachment process to proceed. A presidential spokesperson said Saturday that Perez Molina will not resign.
“Ex-Vice President Roxana Baldetti captured and impreachment process against Otto Perez Molina called for.”
Baldetti stepped down from the vice presidency on May 8 following popular calls for her resignation after she was implicated in the customs fraud scandal through her personal secretary. The latest evidence has revealed she had an even larger role in the corruption ring.
The Guatemalan government and U.S. Embassy hoped Baldetti’s resignation would satisfy the emerging movement keen on rooting out corruption, but protesters continued to call for the immediate resignation of Perez Molina.
“The day has come.”
The political shake-up comes just two weeks before Guatemala’s general elections are set to take place Sept. 6. Social movements have called for elections to be postponed in the face of political crisis and for a null vote in protest under the popular banner “under these conditions, we don’t want elections.”
President Perez Molina has repeatedly stated he will not resign, and will carry out his term until January.
Under the Guatemalan constitution, Perez Molina is barred from running for reelection.
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