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Guatemala's Morales Removes 11 From CICIG, Inner City Press Asks UN, Spox UNaware

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 – Back on 25 August 2017 when Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales came to New York to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on August 25, media mostly Spanish and Inner City Press set up a stakeout in the UN Secretariat lobby, to afterward hear his views on Ivan Velasquez and the future of the CICIG. The meeting began at 5 pm, but it was well after 6 pm when Guterres came down to his waiting car and driver. Inner City Press asked, Que pasa con la CICIG? But Guterres merely waved. Moments later his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who declined to answer or even confirm receipt of written questions from Inner City Press, issued a canned read-out which "reiterated his confidence in Commissioner Ivan Velásquez.” But what has been the follow up? On 21 March 2018 when Inner City Press asked about Guatemala removing 11 police investigators from the CICIG, Guterres' spokesman didn't know about it, and did not comment by the end of the day six hours later. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  I know that the Secretary-General has spoken in the past about CICIG [the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala] in Guatemala.  And now the Government there has removed 11 of its police investigators that were working with it, and Ivan Velásquez says this is clearly an attempt to undermine the CICIG.  So I was… do you have any…

Spokesman:  I'll check… check the reports.  The Secretary-General firmly stands behind the work of the Commission and the Commissioner.." But six hours later, nothing. Back on August 27, 2017 after not speaking at or even coming to the waiting stakeout at the UN, Morales issued a video, on Twitter, declaring Valasquez persona non grata. Here. Guterres is with sheikhs in Kuwait; Inner City Press asked his spokesman Stephane Dujarric: "This is a Press request on deadline for the UN's / Secretary General's response to this, from Jimmy Morales of Guatemala. Also please explain why UN Photo still does not have any photo of the Morales / SG photo op online, and state where Yemen envoy IOCA is, if he is not in Kuwait (didn't see him in the photo). Inner City Press has more questions and will be submitting them for responses, while noting that Friday's question was not even acknowledged, much less answered. Please explain." He replied, "Statement coming shortly." Then, a tweet from Jeffrey Feltman's DPA: ".@UN Secretary-General shocked at announcement that Guatemala's President has declared @Ivan_Velasquez_ persona non grata." Shocked implies that Morales didn't raise this possibility in their long meeting on Friday. More to follow.

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