GUATEMALA: A GENERAL TAKES OVER INTERIOR MINISTRY AFTER SCANDAL COSTS BYRON BARRIENTOS HIS POST.
Under pressure from cooperating countries and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNDP Unión Nacional para la Democracia y el Progreso (National Union for Democracy and Progress) ) to clean up government corruption and reduce human rights abuses, the administration of Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo Alfonso Antonio Portillo Cabrera (born September 24, 1951 in Zacapa) is a Guatemalan politician. He served as the President of the Republic of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004.
He took office on January 14, 2000, representing the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG). has begun making Cabinet shifts. The appointment of an armed forces general to the Cabinet has caused concern among human rights advocates.
German Ambassador Walter Eickhoff, who heads the Grupo de Paises Amigos AMIGOS Advanced Mobile Integration in General Operating Systems del Dialogo--six nations that have supported the peace process since 1990--said the group acknowledged the government's efforts to do something about corruption and human rights violations, "but we think more could be done."
After a meeting with a committee headed by Norwegian Ambassador Rolf O. Berg and UNDP representative Juan Pablo Juan Pablo is a common Spanish given name. It is the equivalent of "John Paul" in English or "Jean-Paul" in French. Some famous people with this name:
On Nov. 29, Secretary General of the Presidency Luis Mijangos confirmed that Portillo had dismissed Barrientos and said some other Interior Ministry officials had also been sacked. Mijangos said Defense Minister Gen. Eduardo Arevalo Lacs had resigned his commission to take Barrientos' place. Gen. Leonel Mendez Estrada, chief of the Estado Mayor de la Defensa Nacional, will replace Arevalo Lacs as defense minister.
International pressure on Portillo is also mounting to fire Communications Minister Alvaro Heredia for alleged contract fraud. Mijangos confirmed that Portillo might consider other Cabinet changes, including the replacement of Economy Minister Marco Antonio Ventura by Agriculture Minister Jorge Escoto, but those changes would be aimed at improving the economy.
Barrientos was appointed Interior Minister in August 2000. During his tenure, the ministry was accused of corruption because it could not account for millions of dollars in public funds See Fund, 3.
See also: Public . Barrientos, a former military officer, was accused of human rights violations during the civil war that ended in 1996, and his appointment to the Cabinet was opposed by human rights groups (see NotiCen, 2000-08-03).
Barrientos faces investigation and possible trial
Barrientos is entitled to take back the seat in Congress he gave up to enter the Cabinet. However, legal proceedings All actions that are authorized or sanctioned by law and instituted in a court or a tribunal for the acquisition of rights or the enforcement of remedies. underway could force him to answer to charges relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc misappropriation misappropriation n. the intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorized purpose, particularly by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person's estate, or by any of funds.
Barrientos came under fire in June for negligence in overseeing the prison system after 78 convicts escaped from a prison in Escuintla department (see NotiCen, 2001-07-19).
Portillo said at the time that he might replace Barrientos but that a Cabinet shift would not solve the problems in the prisons. However, he said that he might remove Barrientos as a political gesture in response to public demands that he take action. Barrientos complained that talk of his removal was politically inspired.
By October, the corruption issue replaced the prison escape as the primary concern regarding Barrientos' tenure. US$11.2 million in public funds had disappeared from the ministry into personal bank accounts. The daily Prensa Libre Prensa Libre is a Guatemalan newspaper published in Guatemala City by Prensa Libre, S.A. and distributed nationwide. It is formerly the most widely circulated newspaper in the country and currently has the second-widest circulation. reported that ministry official Jarol Axel Gil Munoz had transferred the funds from a ministry account in the Credito Hipotecario Nacional (CHN CHN China
CHN Canadian Health Network
CHN Coalition on Human Needs
CHN California Homeschool Network
CHN Cleveland Housing Network
CHN Center for Human Nutrition
CHN Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen
CHN Community Health Nurse ) to seven personal accounts in various banks. Barrientos and his vice ministers refused to comment on the newspaper's allegations.
In Prensa Libre's account, when the Superintendencia de Bancos discovered the transfers, Gil Munoz redeposited US$3.6 million in the ministry's CHN account. The whereabouts of the rest of the money and of Gil Munoz are a mystery.
Besides Gil Munoz, Angel Rene Argueta, an official in the ministry's budget office, has been missing since mid-November. Also missing is Comptroller General Noun 1. Comptroller General - a United States federal official who supervises expenditures and settles claims against the government
functionary, official - a worker who holds or is invested with an office (Contralor General de Cuentas de la Nacion) Marco Tulio Abadio, although a spokesperson for the department said Tulio Abadio would be investigating the Prensa Libre report.
With no information coming from Interior, the media questioned the president's office about the missing funds. But Portillo's press office said it was not up to the president to explain the anomalies, and referred questions back to the Interior Ministry.
Opposition leaders demanded a congressional investigation. Responding to requests from Alianza Nueva Nacion (ANN) Deputy Nineth Montenegro, the attorney general's office said it would begin the process of removing Barrientos' immunity on the grounds that Cabinet ministers should be answerable for the actions of their subordinates. Judge Luis Alfredo Morales said on Nov. 28 he would ask the Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) to remove Barrientos' immunity, which could expose him to an investigation and possible trial on charges of embezzlement embezzlement, wrongful use, for one's own selfish ends, of the property of another when that property has been legally entrusted to one. Such an act was not larceny at common law because larceny was committed only when property was acquired by a "felonious taking," i. , misuse of funds, and failure to report the missing funds.
During an interview Nov. 22 with the daily Siglo Veintiuno Siglo Veintiuno is an important Guatemalan newspaper. It was founded in 1990 by José Rubén Zamora. See also
A week later, Foreign Relations Foreign relations may refer to:
UN team criticizes appointment of a general
The UN human rights verification team in Guatemala (MINUGUA MINUGUA Mission de las Naciones Unidas - Guatemala (United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala) ) sharply criticized Portillo for appointing a military officer to the critical position of interior minister. In a statement Nov. 30, MINUGUA said the appointment contradicted the terms of the 1996 peace accords, which placed great importance on strengthening civil as opposed to military authority. The statement said the accords required the demilitarization de·mil·i·ta·rize
tr.v. de·mil·i·ta·rized, de·mil·i·ta·riz·ing, de·mil·i·ta·riz·es
1. To eliminate the military character of.
2. of the public-security function over which Interior has control.
Human rights activist Helen Mack Helen Mack (November 12, 1913 in Rock Island, Illinois - August 13, 1986 in Beverly Hills, California) is one of the earliest examples of pioneering women who were successful in the entertainment industry, first as a performer and then orchestrating behind the scenes. said the appointment indicated that the administration had little interest in complying with the peace accords and showed that the governing Frente Republicano Guatemalteco (FRG) intended to control the country.
Although Arevalo Lacs resigned his military commission, critics brushed aside his new civilian status. Frank La Rue, head of the Centro de Accion Legal de Derechos Humanos, said that strategy was invalid. "He [Arevalo Lacs] is military, and that's it."
Human rights commission says disappearances are back
As the scandal regarding the missing funds unfolded in November, the independent Comision de Derechos Humanos de Centroamerica (CODEHUCA CODEHUCA Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Central America ), based in San Jose, Costa Rica, issued a report declaring crime and corruption the most serious problems facing Guatemala.
Referring to a study by nongovernmental organizations, CODEHUCA said the core of the security problem was that organized crime had protection from police and military forces. The report said many human rights violations were forced disappearances disguised as common crimes. Disappearances all but vanished in the early 1990's, the report said, but re-emerged after July 2000 when Barrientos took over the Interior Ministry. [Sources: Agence France-Presse, 11/15/01; Prensa Libre (Guatemala), 10/30/01, 11/29/01; Siglo Veintiuno (Guatemala), 06/21/01, 11/22/01, 11/23/01, 11/28/01, 11/29/01, 11/30/01; Notimex, 11/29/01, 11/30/01]