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Guatemala president resigns, will face bribe charges

President Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala resigned Thursday and will face charges in the customs scandal that has destroyed his government and mobilized ordinary citizens to protest against the sleaze.

On Tuesday, the national congress stripped Molina of immunity from prosecution.

He said in a letter to congress he was leaving office to “face justice and resolve my personal situation.”

Molina, 64, pictured left, had been in office since January 2012.

The current vice president, Alejandro Maldonado, will likely take over.

Molina wasn’t going to be a candidate in the election scheduled for January because of term limits.

For the past month, a broad-based movement of peasants, middle class citizens, and business owners had been calling on Molina to resign.

The scandal is known as La Linea (The Line).  It refers to a hotine businesses allegedly called to clear their goods through customs in exchange for bribes.

In May, vice president Roxana Baldetti resigned from office. Prosecutors accused her of taking half the payoffs in the customs duties scheme.

Baldetti, 53, appeared in court last week. She denied the charges.

Fourteen members of Molina’s cabinet have resigned since the scandal started. Police have made about 30 arrests.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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