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Why Guatemala’s President Isn’t Laughing Anymore

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales.

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales.

Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, a comic who won office in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform, is entangled in a political crisis that threatens his presidency. The saga in Central America’s largest economy began in August when prosecutors announced they’d launched a preliminary investigation into Morales for accepting illegal campaign contributions. Morales attempted to expel a chief investigator in the case and now faces additional accusations of wrongdoing. He’s so far defeated bids in Congress to strip his immunity from prosecution, but anti-government protests have grown and his support in the legislature has dwindled.

The presidency is his first elected position. Before that, Morales was a TV comedian and owner of a television production company. He rode a wave of voter disgust with corruption to win office in 2015 on the slogan "neither corrupt nor a thief." The previous president, vice-president and central bank chief were all jailed on corruption allegations in the year leading up to Morales’s election and are awaiting trial.