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Aug 26, 2015

Congress to Decide If President Should Stand Trial

Since the scandal broke in April, there have been waves of protests across Guatemala.  According to McDonald, President Perez Molina can be made to stand trial as a civilian for his alleged role in the scheme should the Congress find him culpable.

 

Isani Cayetano

“Earlier I asked you to describe for me the political climate as a result of what’s taking place there.  Have there been any protests, any riots, any kind of action taken against this particular government by citizens of Guatemala?”

 

Michael McDonald

Via Skype: Michael McDonald, Political Analyst, Bloomberg News

“Yeah, there have been protests.  Actually the protests erupted in April so it’s been going on ever since.  In April there were accusations leveled against the vice president that she was part of this tax fraud scandal.  In May she stepped down over those accusations and there have been a series of protests every Saturday since April.  They reached a point of sixty thousand people in May and they started to diminish slightly and there were smaller numbers starting with this latest round of accusations.  Now they’re starting to build again and there was a major protest on Saturday that a few thousand people showed up to.  There have been marches through the streets all week, they’ve been relatively small marches this week.  There’s supposed to be a bigger one tomorrow and several thousand people [are expected to show up.]  So these protests have really been constant ever since April.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now the allegations brought against President Molina have to do with graft, if I’m not mistaken.  Can you go into some detail as to what some of these specific allegations against his government and the representatives and the players therein are being accused of?”

 

Via Skype: Michael McDonald

“Sure.  So under this investigation what prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office is accusing him of is basically running a tax fraud racket by which he was essentially at the head of a chain of command, he and his vice president, of allowing goods to come through customs and accepting bribes.  Essentially lower level officials would accept bribes from companies at the customs checkpoints and those bribes would make their way up this chain of command and eventually be deposited into the bank accounts of the president and the vice president.  So the accusations in this case are bribery and customs tax fraud.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is there a forecast, so to speak, in terms of what’s to take place in the near future given the unstable state of affairs in Guatemala?”

 

Via Skype: Michael McDonald

“Sure, so what happens now is that congress has to put together a five member committee to investigate the president.  That’s going to take place tomorrow morning and this five member committee will look into the accusations that the attorney general has put forth and they will present those findings to congress.  Once they present those findings to congress, congress will have to vote whether or not they strip the president of his immunity and if they strip the president of his immunity then the case will go back to the courts and essentially prosecutors can request a warrant for his arrest and arrest him and haul him before the courts like they could any citizen.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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