Assassinations of Indigenous Leaders in Guatemala Trigger Fear as Political Cycle Begins
As if Guatemala does not have enough to deal with internally, from an embattled corrupted Presidential administration, Jimmy Morales to rampant assassinations of Indigenous Leaders, to alarming export of its population due to the US Free Tarde Agreements, etc. Now, an aftermath of Fuego Volcano devastation leaves Guatemala in a most precarious situation…
Brief commentary by Bella De Soto
By Jeff Abbott – Truthout , published July 22, 2018
By all accounts on the morning of May 9, 2018, Luis Arturo Marroquín did not know he was being followed when he left his home to travel to a meeting in San Luis Jilotepeque, Jalapa, Guatemala. The 56-year-old was a community leader and member of the coordinating committee of the Guatemalan Campesino Development Committee (CODECA). Founded in 1992 on Guatemala’s southern coast, CODECA is a human rights organization focused on improving the conditions of the rural poor, advocating for land reform, the nationalization of energy, and the improvement of wages for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous rural workers and farmers.
Marroquín was traveling to a meeting with other members from the organization. He stopped at a small store to make a few copies before his meeting, but he would not leave alive. Shortly after his arrival, a black Toyota Hilux pickup also arrived at the store. Two men got out, entered the store and opened fire, killing Marroquín. Concerned onlookers wrote down the license plate of the vehicle, which was later identified as belonging to José Manuel Mendez Alonzo, the mayor of the nearby municipality of San Pedro Pinula, Jalapa. Mendez Alonzo is also known to be an ally httpss://lared.com.gt/estos-los-alcaldes-apoyan-jimmy-morales/ of the embattled administration of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. httpss://nacla.org/news/2018/05/29/anti-corruption-undeterred.
It appears increasingly likely that Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales will face prosecution for the alleged illegal financing of his 2015 campaign. On April 19, the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s office (MP) and the United Nations-backed anti-corruption body the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) held a press conference to publicize the results of its ongoing investigation into the 2015 presidential elections, which revealed that Morales’ National Convergence Front (FCN) party had received over 15 million Quetzales, or a little over $2 million dollars, in illicit contributions from the Guatemalan business community. Morales ran as a political outsider in 2015 on the FCN-Nación ticket.
According to a preliminary police report obtained by Truthout and confirmed by Hilda Pineda, the head of Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor’s Human Rights Office, agents from the Guatemalan National Police located the vehicle that witnesses identified after the murder of Marroquín. Inside the vehicle were Mayor Mendez Alonzo and his two bodyguards, Otto Edilcer Najera Estrada and Carlos Romeo Jimenez Estrada — both of whom were armed with guns, as well as two machetes and a military-style knife.
The police documented the identifications of the passengers and weapons located in the vehicle but released the two bodyguards and the mayor — who, according to Guatemalan law, benefits from immunity from prosecution for crimes while in office. Najera Estrada and Jimenez Estrada remain key suspects in the murder, yet the initial investigation has yet to find a direct link between pistols found in the vehicle and the one used to kill Marroquín.
“At the moment, there is no evidence that connects them to the crime,” Pineda told Truthout. “However, we are not discarding any possibility. We are continuing with the investigation.”