A report conducted by the Washington D.C.-based transparency organization, Judicial Watch, described the activities of the Open Society Foundation, funded by billionaire George Soros, in Guatemala. According to Judicial Watch (JW), Soros and his foundation promote and advance a “radical, progressive agenda that seeks to destabilize legitimate governments, erase national borders and identities, target conservative politicians, finance civil unrest, subvert institutions of higher education, and orchestrate refugee crises for political gain.” 

Guatemala is one of three Central American nations that contributes the bulk of illegal border-crossers to the United States. Plagued with gang violence, narco-trafficking, income disparities, and poor governance, Guatemala is sliding into crisis. According to the Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady: "In the struggle to defeat transnational crime in Central America, the U.S. is financing a United Nations prosecutorial body in Guatemala. Yet these U.N. prosecutors are thumbing their noses at the rule of law and seem to be using their power to politicize the Guatemalan judiciary. This is dividing and destabilizing a pivotal democracy in the region. The fragile Guatemalan state is in the crosshairs of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and Cuba’s Gen. Raúl Castro. If their allies seize control of Mexico’s southern neighbor via its institutions, as Daniel Ortega has done in Nicaragua, it will have implications for Mexican and American security."

The report emphasized that the United Nations’ International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which was established in 2007 by a treaty between Guatemala and the U.N., was created to address endemic corruption in Guatemala’s governmental institutions. However, while CICIG has been successful in its investigations of official corruption, the JW report charges that it has exceeded its mandate by “exerting a great deal of influence in Guatemalan politics.” CICIG received $7.5 million in U.S. taxpayer money in early January 2017, just days before President Donald Trump took office.

Among CICIG’s activities that were highlighted by the Judicial Watch report was an investigation that led to the removal and arrest of President Otto Perez-Molina for his alleged involvement in bribery scheme. In 2016, the body accused the brother and son of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales of scheming to defraud the Guatemalan government. In 2017, CICIG announced it was investigating President Morales himself. Morales then ordered the expulsion of CICIG Director Ivan Velasquez. The Guatemalan Constitutional Court blocked the order, which JW charges is a violation of Guatemala’s sovereignty.

The U.S. government has continued to support CICIG. Then-Vice President Joseph Biden threatened to halt foreign aid to Guatemala should CICIG’s mandate be terminated. In February 2018, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement declared that the Trump administration “continue[s] to support the CICIG – a UN body created in 2006 – to uphold the rule of law, strengthen accountability, and independently investigate illegal, corrupt activity affecting government institutions.” Since 2008, the U.S. government has given approximately $36 million to CICIG. 

Also, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations described the CICIG as, “a potential model for other states.”

The Soros network, according to JW, is active in politics, economics, and civil society throughout Latin America. JW asserts that Guatemala, a small republic in Central America that has seen decades of Marxist insurgency, criminal violence, failed government, and outmigration, has been targeted by Soros and his affiliates for an aggressive “campaign of subversion and political manipulation that threatens the sovereignty of a constitutional republic and ally of the United States.”

In an interview with Spero News, investigative journalist Fergus Hodgson said, “Many locals have long been aware of this destabilizing funding. Although the armed confrontation ended in 1996 with the peace accord, the Marxists didn't give up their goal of controlling Guatemala in enacting socialist policies with themselves at the helm. Rather, they founded NGOs and political organizations and sought foreign aid under the guise of human rights.” Hodgson, who resides in Guatemala, said that “Here the leftists, communists, progressives, or collectivists, whatever you want to call them, resort to the same tactics they use in the United States. Because they can’t win at the polls, they resort to using nonprofits, pressure groups, and legal tactics to get their way.”

Hodgson gave credit to Steve Hecht -- an American businessman who has lived in Guatemala for decades -- for examining the inroads of the Soros foundations in frequent articles at the Impunity Observer website and elsewhere. At Impunity Observer, Armando de la Torre (also an American citizen) denounced CICIG as "unconstitional." He wrote: "The CICIG is unconstitutional to its roots. Its activities come from a deep-seated, predatory animal nature which cries out for restraint — especially as the actors are foreigners who show contempt for the local populace. The CICIG staff are endowed with privileges and powers like those of no other public officials on earth. They enjoy lifetime immunity along with their juicy salaries. They are invited to use the testimony of “protected” witnesses — often false — against whomever they wish. They may conduct surveillance without limits. They may, and they do, fabricate evidence."

Hodgson, who edits Antigua Report and also writes for Impunity Observer, added, “Judicial Watch has done a wonderful service, adding further research insights and raising awareness of this problem. Their work is in addition to a lengthy research series just out this month from a coalition of Guatemalan civic organizations, led by the Liga Pro Patria. These organizations are calling awareness to the breakdown in the rule of law led by both local Marxists and foreign progressives. Sadly, some of this meddling comes from the US federal government, paid for by the US taxpayer, through the State Department and various purported aid and support programs, such as the CICIG, the UN Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.” Hodgson was critical of diplomat Todd D. Robinson, who served as U.S. ambassador to Guatemala during the Obama administration. 

Guatemala, like El Salvador and Honduras, is among the poorest countries in the world. Refugees and illegal immigrants from Guatemala and other Central American countries now form the majority of illegal immigrants seeking admission to the U.S. Economics continues to be an important reason for the outmigration of young people from Guatemala, in addition to endemic criminal violence.

According to JW, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) are expected to spend $573,000,000 in grants and program funding throughout the world. Despite its professed support for the rule of law and democracy, and the upholding of fundamental human rights, JW argues that they have “promoted a radical globalist agenda in every corner of the globe.”

Among the goals that OSF is really pursuing, said the JW report are:

• Promoting an open border with Mexico and fighting immigration enforcement
efforts
• Fomenting racial disharmony by funding anti-capitalist black separationist
organizations
• Financing the Black Lives Matter movement and other organizations involved in the
riots in Ferguson, Missouri
• Weakening the integrity of our electoral systems
• Promoting taxpayer funded abortion-on-demand
• Advocating a government-run health care system
• Opposing U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and
• Promoting dubious transnational climate change agreements that threaten
American sovereignty
• Working to promote gun control and erode 2nd Amendment protections.

Soros himself has long been associated with the Democratic Party and prominent Democrats. For example, he has funded the the Center for American Progress (which is headed by former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta), the progressive Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and Democratic voter turnout initiatives. In 2003, Soros described defeating President George W. Bush as, “the central focus of my life,” and donated more than $15 million to that end. Then in January 2018, Soros said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that President Donald Trump is a “danger to the world.”

According to JW, Open Society activities in Latin America have coincided with a “pink tide” in the form of the election of leftist national leaders. These include: Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador, Hugo Chávez and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, and Alvaro Colom of Guatemala.

Colom, a social-democrat, served as president from 2008 to 2012. During his presidency, multiple members of his cabinet and his sister-in-law were linked to money-laundering, illicit income, and other forms of corruption. 

In 2012, Guatemalans elected a former army officer, Otto Pérez-Molina, to the presidency. He was followed in 2016 by populist Jimmy Morales.Concurrent with the first year of the Morales presidency, Soros’ Open Society Foundations provided more than $1,000,000 to affiliated non-governmental organizations in Guatemala, in addition to hundreds of thousands more to U.S.-based organizations that support the Soros agenda in the country. Relative to GDP, OSF-affiliated groups spend more than twice as much in grant and program funding in Guatemala than in the United States, according to JW. “As in the United States, these programs include funding liberal media outlets, supporting globalist politicians, advocating for open borders, fomenting public discord, and influencing academic institutions.”

A history of armed internal conflict, assassinations, and political violence that started in the 1950s and continued throughout the 1990s, which included the murder of Catholic Archbishop Juan Gerardi in 1998, made Guatemala the focus of criticism for systematic human rights violations and extra-judicial killings on the part of the United States government, non-governmental organizations, and human rights advocates. The United Nations has since had a strong role in the country for approximately 20 years.

During his three years as the American representative to Guatemala, Ambassador Todd Robinson became well-known for his criticisms of Guatemala’s police, legislators, and judiciary. He continued in his position until the end of September 2017, despite multiple calls for his ouster by Guatemalan politicians who were indignant about his criticisms. According to JW, the U.S. government, during Robinson’s ambassadorship and the then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s tenure, served to weaken Guatemala’s sovereignty through uncritical support of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG). 

JW’s report contends that CICIG overstepped its authorized mandate to investigate and prosecute serious crime in Guatemala, and that the United States government during the Obama and Trump administrations have effectively weakened Guatemala’s sovereignty through its uncritical support of CICIG. The report suggests that the millions of dollars donated by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations have destabilized Guatemala and threatened the ability of the democratically-elected president to govern the country, while also targeting conservative and pro-American politicians. 

Judicial Watch called for a series of policy reforms in light of the above: 

• Support the work of the CICIG that is consistent with its authorized mandate, while
opposing the body’s increasing interference in domestic political affairs.
• Reconsider USAID and other U.S. Government funding for organizations that engage
in politically-motivated civil disobedience and those that concurrently receive
financial support from the Open Society Foundations.
• Ensure that the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala and the Deputy Chief of Mission
respect Guatemalan sovereignty by refraining from engaging in domestic political
interference and constructively engaging with President Morales the other elected
officials.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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