The incredible story of how a Facebook post overthrew a government

Louis Dor
Saturday 05 December 2015 16:00
Science and Tech

A civic rebellion which ousted Guatemala’s president in September all sprang from one frustrated Facebook post, it has emerged.

In April a corruption scandal dubbed “La Línea”, which involved customs officials asking for bribes in exchange for waving taxes, was discovered by a UN investigation.

The highest official incriminated was the personal secretary of Roxana Baldetti, the Vice-President of Guatemala.

A Guatemalan newspaper reported that Baldetti, of the ruling Patriotic Party, (pictured below) and her husband had five properties and a private helicopter to their names, assets far beyond their earnings.

(Picture: Getty)

In response, the Guatemalan government banned the reporter from being near the Vice-President.

Lucía, a 53-year-old woman from the suburbs outside Guatemala City, did not like this course of action, podcast ReplyAll reported.

She made a Facebook event page, called ‘Peaceful protest to ask for the resignation of Roxana Baldetti’, which was going to protest in front of the government palace.

As Fusion retells, a newspaper picked it up, and within 48 hours the protest had hundreds of attendees.

The event evolved into a movement, was renamed #RenunciaYA (Resign Already), and in another two days more than 20,000 people said they were going to the protest.

Peaceful demonstrations started in May, having splintered from the original group, but with the common cause of destabilising what was seen as a corrupt government unfit to rule.

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In mid-August, Baldetti was arrested, and faced trial for taking millions of dollars in bribes from businesses over favourable tax rates.

The focus then turned to Guatemala's president Otto Pérez Molina, who has previously faced allegations of war crimes for ordering the torture and genocide of indigenous peoples during the long civil war, which ended in 1996.

(Picture: Getty)

Molina rejected any link to the scandal, but in early September he resigned from office, on the eve of an election.

He was arrested on the same day and has since been jailed for fraud, conspiracy and bribery charges.

Jimmy Morales of the anti-corruption opposition party National Convergence Front is due to take over from the acting president after winning a run-off election in October.

ReplyAll tracked down Lucia and asked her how it felt to see her idea on Facebook blossom into a revolution.

"I was in tears", she said.

I didn’t cry in that moment, but in my heart I was in tears.

(H/T BBC/Fusion.net/Reply All)

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