President Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala Resigns Amid Scandal
By AZAM AHMED and ELISABETH MALKIN, The New York Times
SEPT. 3, 2015
Mr. Pérez Molina, a former general who was the military’s negotiator during talks to end of the nation’s brutal 36-year civil war, offered to present himself for possible charges in a multimillion-dollar customs fraud case, saying he would “face justice and resolve my personal situation.” Before, he had denied wrongdoing and refused to budge from office even as tens of thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets.
Mr. Pérez Molina, 64, is the first president in Guatemalan history to resign because of corruption, experts said, offering a rare example in a region long marked by the impunity of its political class. And though the economy and reform efforts in Guatemala have lagged compared with those in other countries in Latin America, the move put it firmly within a wave of efforts elsewhere in the region to make political systems more responsive toward the public, especially the middle class.
That peaceful protests have managed to oust a powerful leader who many say was connected to the dark history of the war, in which a United Nations panel concluded that the government was behind the majority of the 200,000 deaths in the conflict, has left those outside and within Guatemala stunned. Even before sunrise, protesters were starting to gather in the Plaza Central of Guatemala City, the nerve center for the widespread protests that started in April.
Guatemala president appears in court as congress accepts resignation
by Jo Tuckman and Nina Lakhani, The Guardian
Thursday 3 September 2015 14.42 EDT
Pérez Molina’s decision to step down is a huge victory for an unprecedented anti-corruption protest movement that has swelled in recent months with regular marches in major cities, road blockades in rural areas and a general strike last Thursday.
Noisy celebrations erupted across Guatemala City on Thursday morning as news of his resignation began to spread. Fireworks were set off in public squares and gardens, while people on their way to work honked their car horns. Homes, cars, buses and shops were immediately draped in the blue and white national flag.
“We did it, the people did it,” said 33-year-old Gabriel Wer in a phone interview from the main square in the capital. But Wer, one of the organisers behind the huge weekly protests that started in April, warned: “But this is not the end, now we’re looking for justice.”