Guatemala City. The bombshell of Dr. Carlos Castresana´s resignation as head of the United Nations Commission against Impunity, CICIG, in Guatemala hit the country on Monday. During the Press Conference Castresana requested the removal of newly appointed Attorney General, Conrad Reyes. Castresana accused him of having a history of ties to organized crime including connections with firms of lawyers that defend drug dealers and firms of lawyers involved in illegal adoptions. Castresana explained that the nomination of Conrad Reyes was the result of a pact among lawyers who are part of organized crime, he urged President Alvaro Colom to replace Reyes. He denounced a systematic campaign to discredit the work of CICIG and himself, he had also received death threats.
Yesterday, evidence emerged that there was indeed a conspiracy designed to undermine the work of the International Commission against Impunity, CICIG, in relation to the investigation and apprehension of the intellectual authors of the murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg. But there was also a convergence of other sectors who where interested in undermining the work and credibility of CICIG. They used the traditional methods of character assassination that had been so successfully in the times of the internal conflict. A whole list of journalist's was involved in this campaign.
Yesterday also, four decapitated heads where discovered in prominent places of the city. Messages where attached to the heads directed at the Ministry of the Interior and the prison system. The real intent of this gruesome display of violence can also be interpreted as a very clear statement of the dark forces that promote impunity in Guatemala, who felt empowered after Dr. Castresana resigned. The groups wanted to send an unequivocal message to the population, to the justice system and to the President of Guatemala.
Today, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala annulled the election of the Attorney General. A new selection process will begin.
Dr. Castresana who has shown unparalleled courage, tenacity and strength in dealing with the sectors involved in security and justice in Guatemala has won the fight. Even at the moment of his resignation, he refused to go without denouncing the most important facts that promote impunity in the country.
He was successful, what happened this week in Guatemala has no precedent, never had the Constitutional Court responded in such a way, never had the Guatemalan society been so shaken up.
Many members of the international community have expressed great regret when they learned of Carlos Castresana's resignation. They also commend Castresana´s exceptional courage and leadership during his tenure. France honored the efforts of Dr. Castresana, the government of Spain, the EU member states represented in Guatemala, the government of Canada and many others all expressed their highest regards and appreciation of Dr. Castresana´s work and regret his resignation.
The words used by Dr. Castresana himself during an interview after ex-president Portillo was capture, reflect in a very clear and simple way the realities that CICIC has to face in Guatemala.
Castresana said: "The problem is that in Guatemala, criminal organizations had never been confronted. CICIG is doing it, but so is the Prosecutor General's Office and the Judiciary. Let's say it: we are looking the monster in the face, we are holding its gaze, and it is reacting. The question is: Where were Guatemalans at the most critical moments of this Commission? We are not making the effort in the interest of the United Nations or the people that make up CICIG. We are working for Guatemalans, but if you [do not support our efforts] and do not take charge of your destiny, after a while nothing will be left."
(Source of the quote: Interview in Guatevision, March 2010.)
Editors Note: We at the Guatemala Times are deeply saddened that Dr. Castresana has resigned; he was our hope for a better future for Guatemala. We have supported CICIG since we started to publish in 2008. But we also understand and respect his reasons for resigning. We just hope that he will find a country where his work and efforts are appreciated when he is there, and not only when he is leaving. He did not fail Guatemala, Guatemala failed him. We offer our deepest thanks for his work for our country.