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The United States Seeks a Stable Guatemala, Not a Marxist Takeover

By: Guest Contributor - Jan 29, 2016, 11:35 am

Alberto Ortega: "United States so vehemently supported former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz [because of] her record of fighting drug trafficking" (pictured left). (<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Secretary_Kerry_Speaks_With_Guatemalan_Attorney_General_Paz_y_Paz.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia</a>)
Alberto Ortega: “United States so vehemently supported former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz [because of] her record of fighting drug trafficking” (pictured left). (Wikimedia)
EspañolIn an article published on January 24, Steve Hecht argues that Guatemala’s president-elect Jimmy Morales is little more than a puppet of the US government and the “Marxist guerrilla.”

There is no doubt that the United States has always led Central American politics, but far from being a “Marxist conspiracy,” the guiding principle has been concern for geopolitical instability. Furthermore, Hecht leaves out several facts that allow for a better understanding of what is going on in Guatemala.

First, the reason why the United States so vehemently supported former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz was her record of fighting drug trafficking. During her tenure, the Guatemalan government extradited high-profile drug lords, a higher number of cases went to trial, and the sentencing rate went up thanks to a new management system.

In fact, several of the tools used to uncover the corruption scandals that shook Guatemala in 2015 were put in place during Paz y Paz’s administration. In other words, the team of brave prosecutors who made up the Special Anti-Impunity Prosecutors’ Bureau (FECI) and the technology to carry out and analyze over 66,000 phone recordings bore fruit during Thelma Aldana’s tenure but were planted earlier.

The strong and capable Public Prosecutors’ Office that we see today is in large part a work of Paz y Paz’s administration.

Regarding the role of the United States in the political crisis, Hecht also forgets that the US government’s initial position was to support former President Otto Pérez Molina until the upcoming elections. It wasn’t until the last minute that the US embassy decided to abandon the president and jump on the citizen protests bandwagon.

Furthermore, the article omits that the national strike, which led to one of the largest protests in Guatemala’s history and Pérez’s resignation, wasn’t the initiative of the large business associations or the US embassy. Instead, it was the small and medium business owners who began the ripple effect.

[adrotate group=”7″]Finally, the recent apprehension of 16 former Guatemalan army officers accused of war crimes during the internal armed conflict is far from evidence of “Marxism.” It suffices to say that it is the result of complying with obligations that emanate from international treaties signed and ratified by the Guatemalan government — many of them while the military ruled the country — as well as international court rulings.

For many years, there has been a consensus among nations that some crimes cannot be unpunished. The forcible disappearances of children and massacres against non-combatant civilians are just some of those crimes.

Guatemala is heading, with understandable sluggishness, toward a rule of law. The US government has certainly played a role, because it is interested in keeping a stable region south of its borders.

The Berlin Wall fell a long time ago. A binary standard that separates people as good versus evil or communists versus counterrevolutionaries is perhaps not the best tool to explain such complex processes.

Alfredo Ortega
Lawyer
San José, Costa Rica
Graduate, Francisco Marroquín University
Guatemala City, Guatemala