(PRESS RELEASE) – Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the Chair Emeritus of the Committee, today were joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to host Ivan Velásquez, the commissioner of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
Representatives Paul Cook (R-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), and Francis Rooney (R-FL) participated in the meeting. This is Commissioner Velásquez’s first time visiting Washington since President Jimmy Morales attempted to expel him from Guatemala in August.
“As the head of CICIG, Commissioner Velásquez has played a transformative role in holding Guatemalan individuals and institutions accountable. Today, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle reiterated our support for Commissioner Velásquez and Attorney General Aldana.
We emphasized that the selection process for the next Attorney General must be clean and transparent, so that CICIG and the Attorney General’s office can continue to carry out their first-rate work,” said Rep. Engel. “I also raised my serious concerns about efforts in the Guatemalan Congress to pass legislation that would be a major step backwards for the country’s fight against organized crime and impunity.”
“Commissioner Ivan Velázquez and CICIG continue to do extraordinary work in the fight against impunity in Guatemala. In our meeting today, several Members from both political parties reaffirmed our bipartisan support for CICIG and the Public Ministry and their continued efforts to root out corruption and promote transparency. It is pivotal for these institutions to be strengthened to help the people of Guatemala achieve a better future and economic prosperity,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.
Commissioner Velásquez’s partnership with Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana has enabled him to pursue landmark corruption cases, including one that led to the removal from power of the former Guatemalan President and Vice President. On August 27th, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’s declared Commissioner Velásquez persona non grata. The Guatemalan Constitutional Court stepped in to block Commissioner Velásquez’s expulsion.