XelaWho Exclusive: Otto Pérez, Baldetti undercover anti-corruption agents.
by Fathouse Productions
During the 2011 election cycle, Manuel Baldizón, who was considered the heavy favorite in the 2015 presidential election before tanking in September, promised that if he were elected, the Guatemalan national football team would qualify for the World Cup. But the electorate liked the anti-corruption promises of Otto Pérez Molina and his vice presidential candidate Roxana Baldetti better. They won the election, promising that Otto Pérez would be tough on crime and corruption and Baldetti would continue her anti-corruption investigations she had launched as a Congresswoman. They both recently resigned and have been put on trial for involvement in massive corruption scandals. But XelaWho is the first to report that their involvement was likely part of an undercover corruption investigation, given the promises they made on the campaign trail.
Otto Pérez said in March of 2011, “Corruption is one of the gravest scourges faced by Guatemalan society… Partido Patriota knows that the problem of corruption has to do with individuals, and therefore, the objectives and actions that we must take to fight it will be directed against these public officials… [corruption] is present in various levels and spheres of public and private offices… and its success is rooted in impunity.” He later explained that impunity “is the true reason that corruption exists in the country, because the guilty haven’t been punished for what they’ve done.”
As we know, Pérez desperately clung to his Presidential immunity before resigning. He understood its importance even before becoming President, which shows that he’d been investigating corruption long before his election. The only way he could continue his investigations was with Presidential immunity, which allowed him to infiltrate one of the most notorious corruption rings in Guatemala’s history. He was so successful as an undercover agent that he was able to convince the ring to act in the open and get everyone caught. This should be no surprise; on the campaign trail, he said, “In the government led by Pérez Molina, there will be ZERO tolerance for corruption.”
He also said on a radio show, “The principal mandate that the Guatemalan people are giving us is that there be security, that there be order, that we stop the out of control corruption that has existed in the last years in Guatemala.” His undercover work was perhaps the only way to keep his promises.
Baldetti, too, sacrificed her reputation to become an undercover agent. In 2006, she was one of the Congresspeople who helped prove that an executive branch rural aid program had defrauded over Q600 million in two years. What Baldetti said during her 2011 campaign about the commission she was supporting as Congresswoman all but proves that her recent actions were part of an undercover sting; she courageously announced her intention to work from the inside: “I asked the general (Otto Pérez) that the transparency commission be converted into a permanent office, so that we’d have the material and human resources to prove corruption. We now have eight people and I want that to reach 40… if I have a group that helps me investigate… it will be very easy to say to any [corrupt] official, whoever that may be, ‘Here is the proof, you go where you belong, to explain yourself before the halls of justice.’ I want to be the government’s internal prosecutor.”
And she was, leading investigators straight to the biggest anti-corruption prosecutions in Guatemala’s history.