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#507123 - 09/03/15 10:13 AM Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina Resigns
Marty Online   happy

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina stepped down late Wednesday in the face of a major corruption scandal, his office announced, according to The Associated Press.

Perez Molina is being investigated for bribery, fraud and illicit association. A judge on Wednesday granted a request from the attorney general for the president to appear in court for testimony.

Perez Molina was stripped of presidential immunity on Wednesday, and could face jail time if found guilty. Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who resigned in May, has been detained and is awaiting trial. Several other officials in his government have already resigned.

Prosecutors, who were working jointly with the UN, alleged that Perez Molina and other government officials took bribes from companies in exchange for lower tariffs.

The president has denied any wrongdoing.

His resignation comes days before Guatamala's presidential election. Perez Molina was not running.

News of the fraud ring sparked months of protests and calls for Perez Molina to resign. As The New York Times reported, the Roman Catholic Church even urged him to step down.

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#507148 - 09/04/15 11:13 AM Re: Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina Resigns [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Guat Prez Resigns: Arrested On Corruption Charges. How Does That Affect Belize?

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina resigned last night - after the attorney general obtained a warrant for his arrest on corruption charges. And today, a judge ordered the former President to be held in Matamoros military prison in Guatemala City pending his hearing on those corruption charges. The judge says it's because he's a flight risk. His former vice president, Roxanna Baldetti is already imprisoned for corruption charges. Perez Molina has not been formally charged, but the attorney general's office plans to bring charges against Perez for illicit association, taking bribes and customs fraud.

So, with the resignation, a new president Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre was sworn in today at the Congress building in Guatemala City.

It's a time of incredible, unprecedented upheaval in our neighboring country - and it certainly does have ramifications for Belize - especially with Guatemala's unfounded claim on half of Belize's territory. Today we spoke to the Prime Minister and the BDF Commander about what it means for the future of Belize-Guatemala relations:...

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Instability in Guatemala given our particular circumstances. Given the difficulties we have just experienced with respect certainly to the Sarstoon incident. Instability is extremely conserding. I hope that because the military to military relationship is not just good, but is based on structures and operating protocols as well as the interpersonal relations between our general and his opposite number. I hope that in these circumstances, professionalism will prevail. But it has to be worrying if there are some sort of vacuum at the top."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, you famously embraced President Otto Perez Molina at the meeting in Placencia, I believe it was early this year and he then made the extraordinary statement which he did that he respects the Belizean state, that we are neighbors etc. Now that his career in politics has been rubbished. Were those words - have they now evaporated into the.... Have they disappeared?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Well let me say with respect to Molina, I was very pleased with the way he behave towards Belize during his tenure, because we all know his history that he was chief of staff or certainly extremely high in the Guatemalan military. I had feared that as president he would have been belligerent, hawkish, irredentist. He was restrained. He was responsible. He appeared to be not one dimensional. He struck me and he said it as somebody who absolutely recognized and welcomed the separate reality of Belize, while of course still insisting that they had their claims and their point of view. So from that point of view, quite frankly I am sorry to see him go. In terms of a change that is possible with is ouster, his departure, all I can say is that Baldizon who is still as I understand it the front runner, came to Belize and met with me. Before he was the front runner, he had already declared, but at the time I didn't get the impression that people thought too highly of his chances. We had a long chat, we had a long exchange at the Coney Drive office and he certainly made it absolutely plain, that he if he were to become president of Guatemala, we could expect a strengthening of corporation between the two countries. We could expect a profile that would see hid administration absolutely respecting again the separate reality of Belize. So without expressing any preference for any of the candidates, I merely point this out because it does appear that Baldizon is likely to become the next president."

Jules Vasquez
"So no cheering for Sandra Torres possibly a dark horse - She by way of Melchor through Benque or the other way around?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Well I got to know her when her husband was president and she was fond of talking about rice and beans and her closeness with Belize. Her sister of course is married to Greg Garcia and the mother the PUP candidate for the general election in Corozal Bay. I would want to hope that if she does win, that again, her connection with Belize will mean that there won't be any slippage in terms of Belize/Guatemala and that in fact there might be more sympathy than somebody else not in her circumstances could be expected to show. But I don't know. The other side to that coin is that she might feel she has something to prove, because there is the argument that she was born in Belize. I think from what I saw, she is a stronger woman than that and I would hope and believe that rather she would recollect not only her former ties to Belize, but her current ties to Belize in terms of her sister and her brother-in-law and her nephew."

As you heard the Prime Minister say, he is counting on the professional relationship between the militaries in Belize and Guatemala to keep relations on an even keel amidst all the turmoil in Guatemala. Today we asked the BDF Commander directly about that relationship and if the resignation of the president could prose difficulties:..

General David Jones, BDF Commander
"It's not a concern for us because the military leadership is still in place. We have very cordial relations. I have spoken to the new commander. He is of the same view as I am; let us keep peace in the area of the Sarstoon. Let us keep peace between Belize and Guatemala. Let the military professionals work together continuously as professionals. Don't get involved in the civilian hype that is trying to cause provocation. Between the two militaries we have a long standing good relationship military to military and let us keep it together as professionals. Even though they may not be a head of state the moment, the military leader and I have an understanding that we are going to cooperate with each other and that remains in place. Until there is a change in military leadership, then I may need to have the similar discussions with whoever is the new leader."

Channel 7


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