Head of CICIG Steps Down

Author: Ryan Lincoln

After calling a press conference on June 7, 2010, Commissioner Carlos Castresana announced he was resigning his post. Castresana had served as commissioner since CICIG’s inception two and a half years ago. Although CICIG has been lauded internationally for its important successes in supporting Guatemala’s broken legal system and initiating many high-profile investigations and indictments, Castresana cited the lack of cooperation and reforms by the Guatemalan Congress as his primary motivation for leaving his post before returning to his native Spain.

“Nothing that was promised is being done,” he said during his press conference, “On a personal level, I feel I cannot do anything more for Guatemala.”

Additionally, Castresana indicated the recent appointment of Conrado Reyes as Attorney General of Guatemala also contributed to his decision to resign. Castresana stated Reyes has numerous connections to illicit organizations and urged President Colom to fire his attorney general. Reyes denied Castresana’s accusations:

“I do not have, nor have I ever had, ties to the people and organizations he claims. He had plenty of time (during the attorney general nominating process) to present evidence.”[1]

Soon after the press conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement that praised the accomplishments of CICIG under Castresana’s direction and recognized his courageous and difficult work. Ban reiterated the importance of CICIG and the support by the UN, while assuring he would work to fill the post as soon as possible.

While this top-level resignation will no doubt disrupt the immediate future of CICIG, it may be just what CICIG needs. By resigning, Castresana seized the attention of Guatemala and the international community. He had worked tirelessly to push for sweeping reforms and root out illicit organizations in Guatemala. Although he has triggered the termination of hundreds of corrupted police officers, solved the divisive Rosenberg case and indicted a past president for international money laundering, this profound action of resignation sends a clear reminder to the government and people of Guatemala: however much outside assistance they receive, corruption and impunity is primarily Guatemala’s problem and Guatemala needs to take the difficult but necessary steps to solve it.

One can only hope Castresana’s actions increased the pressure on the Guatemala government and greased the wheels of reform, even if only ever so slightly, for CICIG’s next commissioner.

  1. Juan Carlos Llorca, “UN leader tasked with Guatemala crime woes resigns,” Associated Press, 8 June 2010