Guatemala in limbo

The impeachment and arrest of President Otto Pérez Molina is a shrewd move by the Guatemalan elites to save the criminal bosses currently running the country. Español. Português.

Ollantay Itzamná
28 September 2015

Otto Pérez Molina. Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Taking away the immunity and arresting President Otto Pérez Molina, whose government was promoted and financed by corporations and the military, who also took over its ministries, is an attempt to “redeem”, through his “sacrifice”, the Barabbases of Guatemala. Those Barabbases (from Barabbas, the insurrectionary who, according to the accounts of the Passion of Christ, was freed by Pontius Pilate freed at the Passover feast in Jerusalem, instead of releasing Jesus) who, in Guatemala, have been robbing and pillaging the State and the people’s wealth for almost two centuries.

Now that the corrupt criminal ringleaders have been identified and arrested or imprisoned, will the anti-corruption heroes reveal the names of the corporate fraudsters who lead the corruptors’ criminal network?

In the city squares, will citizens, students, civil society keep demanding the punishment of the businessmen who have been bribing a corrupt government?

Will the rich continue to call through their media for citizen mobilization against corrupting businessmen and high-ranking military?

How does Guatemala look now, with an arrested and humiliated head of State, in the eyes of the international community?

It was truly impressive to witness how the main culprits, over the last 4 months of urban outrage, blended in the crowd of protestors demanding the resignation and punishment of their pawn government that had siphoned off the corruption booty. Not only they ended up directing and planning the demonstrations, but they also managed to successfully wipe away any lingering suspicion against them.

The Barabbases came out in the streets, mimicking the emotional protestors who, in their thousands, were screaming as loud as they could: Crucify him! Crucify him! No doubt about it: the mass media can turn criminals into heroes.

No need to reinvent the State

The 132 members of Congress, who unanimously voted to impeach President Otto Pérez on September 1st, had refused to decide, only three weeks earlier, on a similar motion. What sort of “sublime” interests set off this “honorable” decision that ignited such euphoric celebration in most of the cities across the country?

“The humiliated Congress of the Republic is functioning, and there is no reason to cast a null vote or to be absent from the next elections,” seems to be the key message implanted in the minds of Guatemalan citizens who, until September 1st, were determined to invalidate their votes in order to punish ineffective and corrupt representatives. This saved the general elections on September 6!

Not only the elections were saved, but also the substantial investments made by businessmen to finance their candidates/pawns’ campaigns. In other words, pending a run-off due on October 25 and the formation of a new government, the “democratic banquet” binge of the financing companies will then go on, only now with a rearrangement of the criminal networks.

If the elections and the electoral investments are saved, then the corrupt political system that turned the State into a gendarmerie of abusive and invasive private investment (national and foreign) is saved too. The corporations’ neoliberal bacchanal is here to stay.

By imprisoning former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and striking President Otto Pérez (who will be taken to court), Guatemala’s bosses (the Guatemalan business leaders’ association – CACIF - and the U.S. Embassy) have implanted another key idea in the minds of the people: “The judicial system does work and delivers justice. There is no point in continuing the protests.”

And if the judicial system works, then “the laws and the Constitution serve their purpose and are effective. Subsequently, why should we be thinking of a Constituent Assembly to change the country’s legal system? It is pointless to think of electing judges by popular vote.” That is the additional message.

We have won. Let us all go home.

One of the major achievements of this theatrical destitution by the Guatemalan élites is not only the turning of criminals into heroes (corrupt corporate leaders and military officers), but also the demobilization and control of the outraged citizens’ impetuous movement that, like a volcanic magma, was threatening to sweep corrupt officials everywhere.

After the almost orgasmic destitution celebration party, where citizens bearing sticks had the opportunity to beat Roxana and Otto dummies, it seems that Guatemalans will enjoy some satisfaction without any further concern.

Yet the criminals will keep on controlling and managing all “the lines”, including the failed State, which has now obviously been turned into a structure for their misdeeds.

With the citizens’ demobilization and the “normalization” of the general elections to re-legitimize this morally wrong state of affairs, Guatemala’s bosses will be avoiding the democratic Bolivianization or Ecuadorianization that shook off their rich, neoliberal abusive colleagues 10 years ago.

Do all those who celebrated “the democratic triumph against corruption” naïvely and ignorantly believe this crude theatrical reality?

Does the impeachment of two criminal ringleaders resolve the country’s capital sins that tie it to its grim fate?

Will resistant, organized indigenous and campesino communities renounce their agenda to refound the country through a popular, plurinational, constitutional process?

This article was first published by La línea de fuego.

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