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Citing Bitkov Family’s Mistreatment, Rubio Places Hold on U.S. Funds to International Commission on Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)

May 4, 2018 | Comunicados de Prensa

Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, and a member of the Appropriations Committee –  today announced his hold on the State Department’s release of $6 million in funding to the International Commission on Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG):
“I am concerned that CICIG, a commission mostly funded by the United States, has been manipulated and used by radical elements and Russia’s campaign against the Bitkov family in Guatemala. CICIG was established by the United Nations and Guatemala to prosecute official corruption and human rights abuses, not to participate in it. While I support the idea behind this commission, I am placing a hold on the release of $6 million in US taxpayers funding until we have clear answers on its role in the mistreatment of the Bitkov family.”
Today, Rubio also urged Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to ensure the safety and security of the Bitkov family.
El full text of the letter is below:
Dear Mr. President:
I was pleased to see the Guatemalan Court of Constitutionality decide on April 26, 2018, to essentially vacate the criminal charges against the Bitkov family—Igor, Irina and their children, Anastasia and Vladimir. The Putin regime and its cronies not only stole the Bitkov’s livelihood, but also are perpetuating an international campaign of aggression against them. Even with the recent court ruling, however, I remain concerned for their safety and security, especially if they are forced to leave Guatemala and return to Russia. 
As you are aware, international law protects those who seek refuge in a country outside their country of birth due to a well-founded fear of persecution by their country of origin. It is clear to me that the Bitkov family fits this definition and it is my hope that you will utilize all the resources at your disposal to ensure their safety and security following this horrible situation.
Additionally, I am troubled by the role of the International Commission on Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in this affair. CICIG made an inexplicable push for the prosecution and harsh sentencing of the Bitkov family, but not any other recipients of false papers or the company that sold them. These actions, combined with the Russian government’s aggressive attacks on the Bitkovs, raises serious questions about CICIG’s ability to remain free from the corruption that it has been charged with prosecuting. 
For more than three years, the Bitkovs have suffered a miscarriage of justice, having been jailed for what normally would be an administrative fine. The facts of their ordeal lead to questions about both their well-being in the future as well as the connections between CICIG and the Russian government. I urge your government to ensure the safety and security of the Bitkov family and not deport them to Russia. Additionally, I request that you examine CICIG’s role in this case, especially its possible collusion with the Russian government and related Russian entities.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Miami, FL – El Senador estadounidense Marco Rubio (R-FL) – como Presidente del Subcomité del Hemisferio Occidental, Delincuencia Transnacional, Seguridad Civil, Democracia, Derechos Humanos y Asuntos Mundiales de la Mujer, y como miembro del Comité de Asignaciones – hoy anunció su la postergación en la entrega de $6 millones de dólares del Departamento de Estado a fondos de la Comisión Internacional sobre la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG):
“Me preocupa que la CICIG, una comisión financiada principalmente por los Estados Unidos, haya sido manipulada e utilizada por elementos radicales y por la campaña de Rusia en contra de la familia Bitkov en Guatemala. La CICIG fue establecida por las Naciones Unidas y por Guatemala para enjuiciar la corrupción y los abusos contra los derechos humanos, no para participar en ella. Si bien apoyo la idea detrás de esta comisión, suspenderé la liberación de $6 millones de dólares en fondos de contribuyentes estadounidenses hasta que tengamos respuestas claras sobre su papel en el maltrato a la familia Bitkov.”
Rubio también instó al presidente de Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, a garantizar la seguridad de la familia Bitkov.
Hoy, Rubio también pidió al presidente de Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, que garantice la seguridad de la familia Bitkov.