The Guatemalan president has had a trying year. His country remains one of the murder capitals of
Yet to hear President Álvaro Colom speak, you would think it had been smooth sailing all the way.
Colom, a gentle and reed-thin man in a sweater-vest, told reporters at the UN last week that “as president, I can express my satisfaction” with
“I think we’re moving forward,” he added. “I wish it were faster, but I think it is moving forward.”
And in fact, the president’s attitude makes a great deal of sense. Since 2008,
Since the CICIG started its work, a number of high-ranking military officials, as well as members of the national police, have been brought to trial on embezzlement and assault charges. The former defense minister, Eduardo Arevalo Lacs, has been charged with embezzlement. Most stunningly, the former president, Alfonso Portillo, was arrested last month in Izabal.
“We are overthrowing old taboos,” Colom told the press conference last week. In years gone by, it would have been unthinkable for the courts to go after members of
And there is no question that
But great work remains to be done. Last month, just after Colom had been cleared of his murder rap, the CICIG’s director warned that “
Carlos Castresana, speaking to Emisoras Unidas, complained of having his work hampered by
What has been missing from Colom’s recent media encounters is some acknowledgement of the deep divisions within his country’s political class. This is not to say that he should imitate paranoid, populist leaders like
The president may be feeling particularly powerful after his recent triumph over adversity. Let’s hope, as we watch this brave man, that another crisis does not come along to dampen his high spirits.
*Kate Prengel is a guest blogger to AmericasQuarterly.org. She is a journalist based at the United Nations.