The situation has been complicated by the political polarization and actions undertaken by President Jimmy Morales against the system and members of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
The president managed to expel the CICIG by means of actions that caused the departure of the investigators, the withdrawal of their participation in trials of several cases of corruption that are underway, removing the safety of international agents and the police investigators that were assigned.
The expulsion was made despite a ruling of the Constitutional Court that prohibited it. The president, his brother and one of his sons are under investigation for corruption and illicit electoral financing. All these cases were being counseled by the CICIG.
The country is divided into those that do or do not support the CICIG, between those that do or do not support the central government. In that "good and bad" process there have been punished all those independent media and journalists that continue publishing criticisms of the government.
The attacks come in various forms. In particular the financial asphyxia is that which is affecting media and journalists. To give an opinion in any manner is the way to earn a description of socialist on the one hand or corrupt on the other.
The government is seeking to limit freedom of expression in various ways.
On January 14 President Morales presented his government report to Congress and for the effect limited access to the city's historical center on placing 3,500 police officers in two turns in order to prevent any kind of protest being made around Congress.
For the present electoral process the government has limited access to press conferences and stopped reporting on the president's agenda, with the excuse that he does not want to fail to comply with the Electoral Law and that of Political Parties to be promoting public works. This silence is more evident in the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Relations Ministry where neither the spokesmen nor the senior officials respond to requirements that media journalists or freelance reporters have. They only respond when the information is related to actions that will be able to generate a positive image.
In inland Guatemala in the national hospitals of two states there exist "higher orders" of not allowing access by reporters to public events and health installations.
The attacks have intensified against the media that are critics of the government, especially when President Morales has publicly asked that there be included in investigations the media or their executives whom he accuses of being corrupt and for whom he calls for punishments. The president assured that he is in agreement with the Magnitsky Law, "which should be applied to all those who are corrupt, including those that use the pen to make corruption."
From March 9 to 14 there arose a great controversy after the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) sought to impose a procedure of authorization on the news media for the holding of interviews, forums and debates with presidential candidates. This situation was regarded as an attempt of censorship and silencing of opinions. However, thanks to the fact that the majority of media, journalist associations and businesses and the IAPA came out against, the TSE, in a divided vote, decided to withdraw that regulation.
The most serious thing is that despite the fact that various organizations, of both news media and journalists and businessmen's associations, presented appeals of unconstitutionality against the Electoral and Political Parties Law (LEPP) in the Constitutionality Court, this has not responded to said actions, with which there is the risk of all journalists and media violating the law on giving an opinion about a candidate.¨
The Constitutionality Court resolved, before approving the law, that to give an opinion in favor of a candidate or political party is in fact an act of propaganda and thus is prohibited under the LEPP.
These contradictions are causing many politicians to stop issuing statements, opinions and in fact giving interviews to the media. They do not know if they can do so out of fear that it be believed that they are carrying out an "anticipated campaign."