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Guatemala is in deep political crisis as demonstrators have taken to the streets, demanding the resignation of the President, Jimmy Morales, who was elected two years ago.

The row is the result of an attempt by Morales to expel Ivan Velasquez, who is the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known to them as CICIG.

Morales attempt was blocked by the constitutional Court.

The move by the President came after CICIG launched in investigation of him and his party, over allegations of corruption, in particular illegal campaign financing.

Reports are that Morales even travelled to New York, in an attempt to convince the UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon to fire Velasquez as the chief prosecutor in Guatemala.

When that failed, Morales reportedly ordered his Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales to expel Velasquez, and when the Foreign Minister refused, the President moved to fire him from his Cabinet.

Attorney General Thelma Aldana has asked the Court to strip Morales of his political immunity as President, in order to allow charges against him.

Morales is accused of failing to account for more than $800,000 in campaign financing.

Demonstrators by the thousands have since hit the streets, calling on the removal of Morales as President.

So what does this all matter to Belize? Well, Guatemala is one of our border neighbours and trading partners and if you ask Minister of Foreign Affairs Sedi Elrington, you should pay attention.

Screen_Shot_2017-08-28_at_8.21.55_PMHonourable Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I was surprised of the developments, and our Ambassador in Guatemala is very much on the ground and he communicated to our CEO as early as yesterday and I was informed about the developments and the Prime Minister was in fact informed of it.  One of the things that have always troubled me as Minister of Foreign Affairs is just how fragile the societies are around us and it is not only in Latin America but also in the United States, you see the kind of lurching that is taking place out there, as a matter of fact I heard one former Senior Diplomat of the United States commenting on the fact of how thin the veneer of civilization is in the world and this is coming from a Senior functionary in the United States so whenever you have these occurrences in our region particularly in Guatemala it gives me great concern, I will confess that, I think we need to be very careful as to how we operate now with the Guatemalan because when they have internal conflicts they tend to look for scape boat and Belize got to be super careful to ensure that no attention is turned to us while they are going through their own internal problems.”

According to Foreign Minister Elrington, Belizeans should take extreme precaution if visiting Guatemala during this period.

Honourable Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“That has been my mantra; do all in your power to avoid a confrontation, do all in your power that has been my mantra and I said it not only to the security people who I’ve met contact with but I also want to extend that to Belizeans be careful don’t be going over there and getting drunk and getting involve in a dispute and don’t be going over there with anything that they can hold you for be super cautious, it is not absolutely imperative for you to go across at this particular point in time they may want to consider that too because one never knows when you have this kind of internal problems as I said before the administration normally seeks to find some diversion to reduce the heat from them and Belize has been their favourite target over the years so I would urge Belizeans to be super  cautious and careful am sure we are going to be raising the matter to Cabinet tomorrow and at that time am sure Cabinet is going to give so kind of direction on how to proceed.”

Elrington was asked whether the removal of Carlos Raul Morales as Guatemala’s Foreign Minister would have any impact on the ongoing discussions and relations between the two countries. Elrington said only time can tell, but he acknowledged that Morales was an extremely helpful diplomatic to him.

Honourable Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I am hoping and praying that in fact we will be able to have the same kind of good relationship with whoever succeeds Carlos Raul Morales, yes he was very helpful to us as a matter of fact, whenever we had these difficulties I was able to call him wherever he was in the world and he would be able to call me when we had border disputes and the like and it is important that you have people who can understand what the situation is and help to seek to calm the affairs of both nations and so he did that for a long time and I very grateful to him on what he did but I understand the relatives of politics and we’ve got to make sure that whoever succeeds him is seek to engage that person in the same kind of good cordial way in which we engaged Carlos Raul, there are Belizeans who didn’t like him, there were Belizeans officials and diplomats who didn’t like him at all I did not had any negative experience with him I mean I understood he had a job to do and I understood that I had a job to do and we tried to do it in a very professional way so I never got into the personal animosities that’s not my style.”

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