Tens of thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets since the May 10 slaying of a prominent lawyer who left behind a videotape saying that if anything happened to him it was at the behest of the country’s president. “If you are watching this message, it is because I was assassinated by President Álvaro Colom with help from Gustavo Alejos,” the president’s private secretary, the lawyer, Rodrigo Rosenberg, said in the video. Rosenberg was shot while riding his bicycle near his home. In the tape, Rosenberg said officials might want to kill him because he represented a businessman who had refused to cooperate in a money-laundering operation sought by President Colom. The businessman, Khalil Musa, was killed with his daughter in April. Colom rejects the accusation, and has called for the FBI and UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to investigate the case.
More than 35,000 Guatemalans have signed a petition calling for Congress to strip Colom of his prosecutorial immunity. But the opposition to the left-leaning Colom comes mostly from the urban middle class. The poor and mostly indigenous rural populace forms the president’s base of support, and many have come out in street rallies to support him. (CSM, May 20; AP, May 12)