WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and a Senate leader on anti-corruption efforts, released the following statement in reaction to President Jimmy Morales’ recent announcement that he would not renew the mandate of the UN body created by agreement with the Guatemalan state to investigate and corruption in Guatemala, commonly known by its Spanish acronym CICIG:
“President Morales’ refusal to renew the CICIG’s mandate is a dangerous setback for anti-corruption transparency and accountability efforts in Guatemala.
“The people of Guatemala deserve an open, transparent government that is accountable to them, and the CICIG has been a necessary and effective tool toward that goal. I am deeply concerned about what comes next, as the announcement has caused fear and outrage in Guatemala, and within the global community. The brave citizens who have taken to the streets to protest this egregious action, however, give hope that the Guatemalan people will not stand for such an effort to deny truth and deny justice.
“I urge the State Department and the U.S. missions at the UN and the OAS to apply intense and sustained diplomatic pressure on President Morales to change course, and allow the workings of independent judicial and investigative systems to go forward while increasing transparency of the initiative – key components of a healthy democracy.
“After a dark history, the Guatemalan people deserve a brighter future. As one of the most successful rule of law initiatives in Guatemala and the region, the CICIG is part of the long road toward that future. Even if he does not like the process or the possible outcome of the CICIG investigations, President Morales should not use his office to stand in the way of transparency and accountability.”