Report to the 74th General Assembly
October 19 to 22, 2018
Salta, Argentina
Polarization is increasing and becoming ever more intense among the people and entities that defend the fight against corruption with the support of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and those who oppose the continuation of that Commission.

President Jimmy Morales, his son and his brother are being investigated for illicit electoral financing in the first case and for acts of corruption in others. This causes a battle on the part of the President against Commissioner Iván Velásquez, who in the end was prohibited from entering the country despite there being an express order from the Constitutional Court not to do so.

The President has issued instructions to not respect new resolutions of the Constitutional Court that indicate that Commissioner Velásquez can enter the country. He announced that there will not be renewed the CICIG permanency agreement after September 2019.

The government has eliminated all of the placement of ads in the media and has not paid for the spaces contracted by the previous government, despite the responsibility of the Social Communication Secretariat of the Presidency and the fact that the General Accountability Office has ordered the payments.

Important economic groups have begun silent financial strangling campaigns against the media, in reprisal for reporting on news relating to corruption.

In May Guatemala's Association of Journalists and the Center of Informational Reports on Guatemala (CERIGUA) demanded that the government respect press freedom in the country, as there is noted a strategy of the three branches of government to not attend to the journalists and to make statements only to some media supporting the government.

There are constant attacks through the Internet on the media, journalists and generators of opinions critical of the government. Hacked have been personal accounts of journalists and then their personal photos have been used as mechanisms to generate attacks that undermine their credibility. The attempts at cyber attack on media websites are constant and have been carried out with greater force in recent months. The most effective attack was made on August 29, when the website of elPeriódico was offline for several hours.

The strategy to silence journalists is also being carried out in law courts, as they have accepted actions against José Rubén Zamora filed by Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel, who has taken advantage of a specific law to accuse him of attacks upon women by psychological violence and discrimination. This same strategy was used by Congresswoman Sandra Patricia Sandoval, who accused a demonstrator of having insulted her and caused psychological lesions.

Several journalists of Guatevisión and Nuestro Diario have suffered various assaults in the form of attacks.

The Electoral and Political Parties Law limits freedom to hire by media on any platform. It sets rates of 20% of what the media charge and, moreover, propaganda has priority over commercial ad placement. The law also seeks to determine if some published information could be considered to be propaganda or favors some candidate. Failure of compliance means criminally punishment of officers, editors, members and owners of news media.

The Guatemala News Media Chamber in April filed an action of non-constitutionality against several articles of this law.

With all the mentioned restrictions what is hoped for is a "silent" electoral process, as the country's main media decided not to register before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, for which reason they will not receive political propaganda. The coverage of events carried out by candidates for popular election will be severely reviewed by the electoral authorities, with which there is a great risk of self-censorship.

Other direct attacks on freedom of expression were made by Christian religious groups that have come out against marches supporting rights of the homosexual community, and lately by rock bands for containing "attacks" upon religion in the words of their songs.

The President and Congress passed their resolutions that prohibited a musical group from entering the country and holding a concert in a public place.