In Head-Spinning Turn, Guatemala President Who Championed Honesty Ejects Anticorruption Panel Chief – New York Times

 In World

The first hint that Mr. Morales would face resistance, even inside his own government, came an hour after his announcement, when the government said that he had replaced his foreign minister, Carlos Raúl Morales. Health Minister Lucrecia Hernandez Mack and a top economic adviser, Quique Godoy, also resigned.

In ordering Mr. Velásquez out, Mr. Morales is also openly defying the United Nations and the United States, which have repeatedly supported the prosecutor’s decision to focus the panel’s work on tackling corruption.

“I think it’s fair to say this is a constitutional crisis of the gravest proportions,” Eric L. Olson, a Guatemala expert at the Wilson Center in Washington, wrote in an email, suggesting that Guatemala’s fragile institutions may be unable to withstand the rupture. “The train is veering off the tracks and it’s not clear who will stop it.”

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said that he was “shocked” to hear Mr. Velásquez had been ordered expelled and that he expected the Guatemalan authorities to treat him “with the respect due to his functions as an international civil servant.”

In an interview, Fernando Carrera, a former foreign minister, said that Mr. Morales’s order reflected “just how lost he is in terms of analyzing the power in Guatemala right now” and that “he’s going to find out he hasn’t got as much power as he thinks he does.”

The anticorruption panel, Mr. Carrera said, “has all the power right now.”

“Congress, the media, civil society, political groups are against him,” he said. “The Constitutional Court will put limits on his authoritarian position.”

Two years ago, an investigation by Mr. Velásquez and Ms. Aldana into a customs fraud conspiracy led to the fall of then-President Otto Pérez Molina, who resigned after 20 weeks of relentless street protests that displayed remarkable power by outraged citizens.

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