Case: A legislative power subordinated to the executive branch is an expression of state capture

Case: A legislative power subordinated to the executive branch is an expression of state capture

STATEMENT 021 | Photo: DepositPhotos.com/zestmarina


The Special Prosecutor’s Office against impunity (Fiscalía Especial contra la Impunidad,FECI) of the Attorney General’s Office and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) filed today impeachment proceedings against the Minister of Economy, Acisclo Valladares Urruela, and seven members of Congress of the Republic of Guatemala for the possible commission of wrongful acts that took place between 2012 and 2015.

Investigation

The investigation was the result of information received on the possible purchase of votes in the legislative branch to approve specific laws. Following the evidence, it was established that a structure existed within the State of Guatemala that alters the democratic order and the republican system by subordinating legislative functions to the guidelines that the Executive Power established in exchange for a payment or a gift. 

Thus, the members of Congress for the Patriota party received and followed the instructions issued by the then Vice-President, Ingrid Roxana Baldetti Elías, in meetings held hours before the plenary sessions, about the votes they had to cast, responding to individual, partisan and even business interests.

FECI and CICIG gathered evidence and analyzed information from several institutions, including the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, the Superintendency of Telecommunications(Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, SIT), the Secretariat of Administrative Affairs and Security (Secretaría de AsuntosAdministrativos y de Seguridad, SAAS), the Business Registration Office, as well as other private entities. This information was used to reach the findings of the investigation.

It was established that each member of Congress received bimonthly payments of Q50 thousand for their votes. Senior managers of TIGO, a telecommunications company, Acisclo Valladares Urruela, and Luis Fernando Valladares Guillén delivered suitcases full of cash to the staff of the then Vice President Baldetti.

The money was distributed from the Office of the Vice-President through trusted members of Congress that they called “line leaders” or “brochas.”In addition to being responsible for the distribution of money to the rest of members (the group referred to these payments as “champurradas“), they also were responsible for transmitting Ingrid Roxana Baldetti’s instructions. This way of operating started with the 2012-2016 term, which allowed the approval of specific law packages.

Lectura de interés:  Former Vice President Ingrid Roxana Baldetti and nine other people were sentenced for Lake Amatitlán case

Due to the modus operandi of the criminal structure, regarding the handling of the cash pledged as gift, there are a number of testimonial statements (including that of a former member of Partido Patriota who was a “Line Leader”) that reveal the route and distribution of money, which were corroborated through police analyses and verifications.

Likewise, the subordination of the Legislative Power to the Vice Presidency was evidenced through numerous communications obtained from mobile devices or e-mails, which coincide with the testimonies of persons who testified in advance trial evidence.

As a result of these pacts, and the subordination of the Legislative Branch to the orders of the Executive Power, several decisions were made and laws were enacted in Congress, including Decree 12-2014 of April 8, 2014 “Law for the Control of Mobile Telecommunications in Prisons and Strengthening of the infrastructure for Data Transmission.” This law was the result of negotiations between entrepreneurs and the Vice President, and the members of Congress  approved its final version without any change. TIGO was the company that received the most benefit from the enforcement of this regulation.

Conclusions

a) Violation of the republican principle of separation of powers:

  • One of the fundamental constitutional principles is the separation of powers. The Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala prohibits the subordination among them.
  • The investigation established that the actions carried out by former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, and some of the members of Congress of the Republic of the 2012-2016 legislature, subordinated the legislative power to the interests of the Vice Presidency and other private actors, in exchange for a bribe, thus perverting the independence of powers and the purpose of the institutions.
  • The members of Congress who promoted specific laws and votes in Congress, in exchange for receiving a gift, failed to comply with their constitutional mandate to be representatives of the people and dignitaries of the Nation.
Lectura de interés:  Former Vice President Ingrid Roxana Baldetti and nine other people were sentenced for Lake Amatitlán case

b) Violation of the principle of equality under the law:

  • TIGO, through Decree 12-2014, obtained benefits for its commercial interests.
  • It used spurious mechanisms such as the payment of gifts/bribe to several members of Congress of Guatemala, through the then Vice President Roxana Baldetti.
  • Thus, the entity TIGO was placed in competitive advantage, obtained unevenly regarding its competitors.

c) State Capture

  • The agreements, enabled through bribery, subjected the Legislative Branch to the orders of the Executive Power. Moreover, under this corruption, several decisions were made, and laws were passed in Congress. These actions included the appointment of first-level officials in crucial institutions for the country and the office of the Comptroller of Accounts or the courts of the state.
  • The actions of private agents in collusion with public officials (members of Congress and the former Vice-President) turned the Legislative body a corrupt interest broker. To the point that the legislators did not even read the bills that represented a benefit (bribe) for them.

Proceedings

Impeachment requests were filed against the following persons:

  • Acisclo Valladares Urruela (Minister of Economy): conspiracy, active bribery.
  • Estuardo Ernesto Galdámez Juárez (a member of Congress and presidential candidate): Conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery, other asset and money laundering.
  • Juan Jose Porras Castillo (a member of Congress): Conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery, other asset and money laundering.
  • Mirna Magnolia Figueroa Resen de Coro (a member of Congress): conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery, other asset, and money laundering.
  • Marco Antonio Orozco Arriola (a member of Congress): Conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery, other asset and money laundering.
  • Boris Roberto EspañaCáceres (a member of Congress): Conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery, other asset and money laundering.
  • Haroldo Eric Quej Chen (a member of Congress): Conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery.
  • Gustavo Adolfo Medrano Osorio (a member of Congress): Conspiracy, violation of the Constitution, passive bribery.
Lectura de interés:  Former Vice President Ingrid Roxana Baldetti and nine other people were sentenced for Lake Amatitlán case

Today, however, only the impeachment proceedings against the officials that participated in possible illegal activities are being presented.  No arrest or summon ordern was filed against the former officials involved who no longer have immunity. It is because the decision of the Second Chamber of the Court of Appeals for the Criminal, Drug Trafficking and Environmental Offenses that resolved the recusal promoted by TIGO representatives against the judge of the Ninth Criminal Court of First Instance for Criminal, Drug Trafficking and Environmental Offenses is still under contest.  

It is important to note that the Appeals Chamber ruled that the grounds for recusal were not proven; however, for “procedural soundness” purposes, it ordered the proceedings to be submitted to the Tenth Court of First Instance, in charge of Judge Victor Manuel Cruz Rivera.

The representatives of the telecommunications company have made numerous requests as if they were procedural subjects. However, through a constitutional injunction proceeding brought against the search warrant carried out in November 2017 at the offices of the entity, the Constitutional Court only recognized their status as interested parties. Therefore, even when they are no procedural subjects, they have promoted a series of challenges, as well as three criminal complaints against prosecutors in the case. They have even requested that FECI staff will be separated from the process.


PRESENTATION OF THE CASE:

Presentacion_Expresión_de_la_Captura_del_Estado

Downloa pdf here (spanish version).

print