On Friday May 8, Guatemalan Vice-President Roxana Baldetti resigned. Her announcement is a reaction to an investigation linking her closest aide — now a fugitive — to a big government corruption scheme, known as La Linea.
Case against La Línea & social movement it inspired represent victory fight against #impunity in #Guatemala @ipinst http://t.co/lGjtTBd0Dm
— Impunity Watch (@ImpunityWatch) May 8, 2015
The investigation into La Linea — so called because of the apparent existence of a special number well-connected people could call to evade customs duties on imports — was conducted by the International Commission Against Impunity. The CICIG is a mechanism to fight corruption in Guatemala backed by the United Nations, which is attempting to rescue the country's institutions and dismantle so-called “parallel” power structures.
Guatemalan citizens recently marched in the streets to demand the resignation of the country's top leadership, and the announcement of Baldetti's exit is creating a festive, hopeful spirit on social networks. It took 23 days to force her resignation, as a useful chronology produced by news site nomada.gt indicates.
Indeed, for most Guatemalans, Baldetti's resignation is not enough. They want her and all the government figures involved in La Linea and other cases prosecuted and convicted.
La primavera guatemalteca llegó! una de las consignas en las calles de Guatemala. Población busca dimisión de OPM pic.twitter.com/vdkBFli4F6
— PrensaComunitaria (@PrensaComunitar) May 9, 2015
The Guatemalan Spring Has Arrived is one of the slogans in the Guatemalan streets. The people want President Otto Perez to resign.
And while today hundreds will demonstrate in the streets, next week will be critical, with politically tense negotiations on the replacement Vice President beginning.
This all happens as Guatemala's Congress — very much a “Congress in Campaign” — prepares for November elections with huge political and economic interests at stake.
Let the resignation of #Baldetti be the start of structural changes in #Guatemala
— Anna Sandoval (@AnnaSandovalG) May 9, 2015
In addition to CICIG, the driving force behind Baldetti's ouster has been an emergent generation of active and critical Guatemalan youth, many of them born in times of peace and democracy, who are ready to add substance and meaning to the word.
While the corrupt mainstream media and old elites maneuver behind close doors, this demographic is increasingly ready to take to the streets and demand transparency, accountability and genuine change for an ossified political system.
Thus, as Congress prepares to consider a trio of V-P selections submitted by the executive, politics in Guatemala is on a knife edge.
The Baldetti resignation in particular poses several questions: Will the new appointment be able to run in future elections? What would happen if the current President steps down, due to popular demand? Might there be an early presidential election in these new political circumstances? And will Baldetti be able to flee the country with her assets in tact, escaping punishment altogether?
Political status quo is in flux in #Guatemala, and could be new precedent if #Baldetti is prosecuted: @martin_guate https://t.co/NP4wBlORtJ — Benjamin Reeves (@bpreeves) May 8, 2015
Pedir que solo salga #Baldetti es pedir Olvido y Perdón a las élites parasitaria que se enriquece de la evasión pic.twitter.com/iY7tnCOjbB
— C P R . U r b a n a (@puebloresiste) May 6, 2015
To ask just for the exit of #Baldetti is to ask to forget and forgive the parasite elites, getting richer from tax evasion.
Congress will choose new VP from a list of 3 that will be prepared by Prez @ottoperezmolina. — Phil Neff (Version) (@cascadiasolid) May 9, 2015
If #Guatemala Congress approves VP resignation she will lose immunity for prosecution. #CasoSAT #CasoLaLinea #BaldettiRenuncia (3/3)
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 9, 201
And the networks lit up at the news that Roxana Baldetti's Twitter account had been deleted:
Baldetti ya desapareció de Twitter, que no desaparezca también de Guate! #ArraigoABaldetti pic.twitter.com/Rbr7ow2PHh
— flaka (@flakitasamayoa) May 9, 2015
Baldetti is gone from Twitter, we must not permit her to flee the country!
Next month will be crucial for the future of the small and troubled Central American nation. Guatemalans are hoping that any changes will be changes for the good.