Uncategorized Guatemalan VP resigns amid corruption scandal

Guatemalan VP resigns amid corruption scandal

Guatemalan vice-president Roxana Baldetti
Guatemalan vice-president Roxana Baldetti

(AA) — Vice President Roxana Baldetti resigned Friday as a corruption scandal continues to rock this Central American nation.

President Otto Pérez Molina made the announcement at a press conference after two weeks of massive protests around the country demanded the resignation of Baldetti and Pérez Molina.

“She resigns with the sole interest of submitting to and collaborating with whatever investigations are necessary and above all with due process. The decision to resign isn’t due to pressure from any group or sector. It was a personal decision,” said Pérez Molina.

Baldetti is under investigation for possible links to a corruption scandal that has rocked Guatemala over the past three weeks. More than 20 individuals, including high-level government officials, were arrested last month for alleged involvement in a network within the national internal revenue agency involved in accepting bribes and defrauding the state of customs revenue.

The Guatemalan National Congress is expected to accept Baldetti’s resignation. The formality would strip Baldetti of her immunity.

“She couldn’t renounce immunity because it corresponds to the position. She is resigning the post of vice president,” said Pérez Molina.

Crowds gathered in Guatemala City’s central plaza and sang the national anthem as soon as the announcement was broadcast. Tens of thousands of protestors filled the plaza April 25 to demand Baldetti’s and Pérez Molina’s resignation. Protests and highway blockades have since followed.

A massive demonstration planned for May 16 is expected to proceed as planned despite Baldetti’s resignation.

The corruption scandal, dubbed “La Línea” after the phone line importers would call to set up the illegal transactions, was brought to light by a joint investigation by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, and the Office of the Special Prosecutor against Impunity.

The eight-month investigation involved 66,000 telephone wiretap sessions and 6,000 intercepted electronic communications. Wiretap evidence revealed after the first round of arrests includes references to “R,” “The Lady,” and “Number 2,” a seemingly central figure in the criminal network. There is widespread speculation that Baldetti may in fact be the individual in question.

Juan Carlos Monzón, private secretary to Baldetti, was identified as a suspected leader of La Línea. An arrest warrant and Interpol Red Notice were issued for Monzón, who was out of the country on a trip with Baldetti at the time of the arrests, but his current whereabouts are still unknown. 

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