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Thank You, Iván Velásquez!

Originally published in El Periodico, September 7, 2019

CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez taught us that change is not made by individuals but by teams of committed people.

I have met all three Commissioners who directed the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG): the Spanish lawyer and prosecutor Carlos Castresana, the Costa Rican prosecutor Francisco Dall’Anese, and the Colombian jurist Iván Velásquez Gómez, each expert in their field. However, it was Castresana and Velásquez who really sought to fulfill the mandate assigned to them, so they were each declared ‘persona non grata’ by the hordes of evil: the Guatemalan elites.

As the Commission closes–perhaps momentarily–I want to thank Iván Velásquez for the exemplary work he has done at the helm of the CICIG since 2013. His delivery, conduct and tenacity are an example, for any professional worldwide, of personal sacrifices involved in  making justice prevail for the benefit of the majority. He has shown that no one, regardless of the wealth he possesses, the color of his skin or the contacts he has, is above the law. He and the national and international team he formed are a model that demonstrates structures, institutions and states, that when governed without violence, can be transformed using intelligence, rulings, and laws.

Commissioner Velásquez, as was the case with attorneys general Claudia Paz y Paz and Thelma Aldana and their teams  taught us that change is not made by individuals but by teams of committed people. Ironically, today the three cannot live in Guatemala because their lives are in danger.

At the conclusion of the CICIG, there is a reckoning across Guatemala with illicit and illegal economic and political networks who are responsible for the extreme poverty and the unstoppable migration to the United States which is decimating the country’s population.

With the closing of the CICIG, honest women and men, civil servants, politicians and officials who have given their lives to build a different country, entrepreneurs who invest and carry out their responsibilities, students and farmworkers may give up because they can’t compete with corrupt monopolies. 

Iván Velásquez Gómez has transcended his time and his name is a global synonym with the fight for justice, while the corrupt will not even be a footnote in history.

Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj

Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj is a Maya-K’iche’n anthropologist and journalist, currently a visiting professor at Stanford University. Irma Alicia is the lead protagonist in Skylight's documentary film "500 YEARS" and serves on Skylight's Board of Directors.

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