On Monday, September 11, the Guatemalan Congress voted down a request by the attorney general to lift President Jimmy Morales’s legal immunity. This means the president, who has been accused of illegally financing his 2015 presidential campaign and having ties with organized crime, cannot be charged with a crime, at least for the time being. The decision, while relatively unsurprising given that many legislators also face corruption accusations and also benefit from immunity, could result in street protests in the coming days and weeks, particularly in the capital Guatemala City. Typical protest sites in the capital include the area around the Presidential Palace, notably Plaza de la Constitución.
The request to lift Morales’s immunity was supported by the UN anti-corruption entity in Guatemala, the CICIG (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala). Corruption has historically been a major issue in Guatemala and the CICIG - founded in late 2006 - enjoys wide support from the population. In 2015, the administration of then-President Otto Pérez Molina was shaken by a massive customs corruption conspiracy known as La Línea. Both Molina and his vice president were forced from office following an investigation by the CICIG and unprecedented mass anti-government protests that lasted for 20 weeks.
While most protests in Guatemala remain peaceful, individuals are nonetheless advised to avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, and to keep abreast of the sociopolitical climate.