Monday, May 18, 2009

Guatemala on the brink

Days after the murder of Guatemala lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg and his client, former government official Khalil Musa, Guatemala finds itself in a serious test of its fortitude.

As noted here recently, Guatemala's
president stands accused of a Shakespearean murder plot, which he vehemently (yet coldly) denies. His political opposition demands his resignation despite only accusations from a dead man to substantiate the claim. Guatemalans on both sides are staging protests and rallies. Some fear that the country's civil rights and democracy, a tender 13 years of age, may be at stake. All the while, rampant criminality in Guatemala roils on, causing some analysts to question whether the government or the criminals have the upper hand.

The coming weeks will be crucial in determining whether Guatemala can get a grip on its current problems or whether dire measures will be needed. The UN and FBI have offered their assistance in investigating the murder. Still, as his political coalition now sees daily defections, some suspect that President Colom's ability to govern in the wake of this scandal will be terminally weakened. Once the investigation's dust settles, the hope must be that Colom -- whether guilty or innocent or somewhere in between -- will be able to gauge whether or not stepping down or staying on ultimately makes sense for the good of the country.

Sources: The Economist, El Periodico, Siglo XXI, The Guardian

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