Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mexico extradites former Guatemalan President back to Guatemala

Mexico has finally sent former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo back to Guatemala after nearly 4 years in exile. Portillo was elected in 1999, and served from 2000 to 2004. During that time he managed to turn the Guatemalan government into a cesspool of corruption and stole just about everything he could before leaving office. When the Berger government came into power in 2004, they realized what had happened and started pushing corruption charges against Portillo. Portillo quickly fled and had been hiding in Mexico ever since.

Portillo is a member of the FRG party (Guatemalan Republican Front), the same party as former dictator EfraĆ­n Rios Montt who oversaw a scorched earth campaign and the massacre of thousands of indigenous people in the early 1980s during the Guatemala's civil war. The party is now a coalition of evangelicals and organized crime. Their support of corruption and organized crime is so blatant that the party has publicly tried to block various pieces of legislation in the National Assembly to combat corruption and stall bills that increase penalties for members of organized criminal groups. 

Back in 2003, Portillo was an important supporter of Rios Montt's attempt to get on the ballot as a presidential candidate in the 2003 elections, despite a constitutional prohibition on former dictators running for president. Since the FRG was actually in power at the time, executive pressure helped in getting Rios Montt on the ballot, and making a complete joke of Guatemala's justice system. As part of the FRG's campaign in 2003, the party staged a massive riot in Guatemala City in mid-2003 (now referred to as Jueves Negro, or Black Thursday), that led to widespread destruction, injuries, and one death in the capital. Since that time, many members of the FRG have been prosecuted for their violent actions, but Portillo has yet to face any court for what he did during his term. I'm not very optimistic about Portillo spending the rest of his life in prison, but hopefully I'll be surprised.