Julio Ligorría Carballido was born on February 19, 1956 in Guatemala City. He was the Guatemala’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America from September 2013 to November 2015.
He has been an international consultant in expert crisis management for more than twenty-five years, President and founder of the consulting firm Interimage Latinoamericana, S.A. of which he has been its only partner, and which engages in consulting services in communication and public affairs to governments and multinational companies in Latin America.
Julio Ligorria Carballido was General Manager of the Guatemalan Managers’ Association from 1979 to 1983. In 1982. During the dictatorship of General Romeo Lucas, together with a group of four Guatemalan businessmen and with the aim to prompt democratic winds in Guatemala, he created and organized the first presidential candidate Civic Forum in the history of the country, which over the years became an institutional event as the presidential forum of the Managers’ Association of Guatemala.
From 1984 to 1988 he was Executive Vice President of the Chamber for Free Enterprise. In 1987 he was a Member of the Advisory Committee of the International Center for Private Enterprise attached to the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
Julio Ligorría became an independent consultant in 1985, and founded his own consulting firm, first working within the country, and then in the international arena. He has been a consultant to the strategic design of eleven presidential candidates in Latin America. Outstanding in this role was his work as a crisis advisor to Guatemalan President Ramiro de León Carpio who had a 82% approval rating nationwide at the end of his term. Outstanding also was the consultancy provided for Álvaro Arzú's electoral strategy in the critical second election round of 1995 that took Arzú to the presidency of the country.
In 1993 he was a consultant to the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, to relaunch the plan for peace negotiations with the guerrillas at the United Nations and before the North American press.
Over time, Ligorría became one of the most recognized specialists in crisis management in Latin America, a discipline to which he has dedicated more than twenty years and on which he has written multiple essays and a book.
In the area of crisis management where private assets have been at risk, Ligorría has been responsible for the protection and rescue of more than 7 billion dollars of assets belonging to his clients.
In 2011 he was the producer and host of DESTINO 2011, a TV debate program that aired during the entire Guatemalan election process that year. He interviewed intellectuals, businessmen, academicians, former guerrillas, and all the candidates to the Presidency of Guatemala.
He has been a recurring guest to analyze the Latin American reality and situation on television networks CNN en Español, NT24 from Colombia and UNIVISION.
In 2013 he accepted the appointment as Guatemalan Ambassador to the government of the United States of America.
Writer and analyst
He is the author of more than one thousand six hundred analytical essays on contemporary democracy, which have been published in national newspapers in Guatemala, as well as in various newspapers in Latin America and Spain.
For twenty-five years he was a political analyst and wrote a column on Guatemalan circumstances in the morning paper Prensa Libre. He was also a collaborator of the evening newspaper La Hora in Guatemala.
During the first decade of the 21st century he wrote a monthly column in the regional publication Estrategia & Negocios.
In addition, he has published:
- The book Roads of Freedom (Caminos de Libertad) published by Van Color in Guatemala in 1987.
- In May 2000 he co-authored the book The Art of Winning Elections (El Arte de Ganar Elecciones) published by the Latin America Association of Political Consultants, in Colombia.
- In September of 2002 his book Political Strategy (Estrategia Política) was published in Spain, with the operational design done by the Canovas del Castillo Foundation (that then became the Foundation for Analysis and Social Studies -FAES). A second edition was published in 2009 by Grupo Editorial PLANETA under the PAIDOS seal, for distribution in Spain and in America.
- In September 2016, PLANETA published the first edition of his book CRISIS, Management of the Unexpected (CRISIS, la administración de lo inesperado) which was distributed in the South of the United States, in Mexico and in Central America. It is also available in Kindle and Amazon.com
Julio Ligorría's life has not been devoid of moments of great pressure and tension. He has been a victim of terrorist attacks, a political target of economic sectors malcontent with democracy. He has even been the object of slander and defamation by one journalist in Guatemala, whom Julio Ligorría formally denounced before the Inter-American Press Association and before the freedom of expression committee of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS.
In 1984, towards the end of the violent election process of that year in Guatemala, in the middle of the internal armed conflict in the country and as a result of his political participation promoting democracy in the Central American nation, Julio Ligorría’s was the object of a terrorist grenade attack by obscure forces of the military regime of the time. It was dawn in mid-October 1985, Ligorría was inside the house that suffered severe material damage but fortunately no lives were lost.
In 1988, Julio Ligorria was once again the target of threats and hostile persecution by groups that destabilized the Central American nation at the time when the region was experiencing the first years of democracy but was still amid an intense internal armed conflict. Ligorría was already a prominent opposition civic leader and maintained an opinion column in national media as well as a column in the Latin American magazine VISIÓN, which was widely distributed in the Hemisphere at that time.
In February of that year, groups that opposed Christian Democrat Vinicio Cerezo’s regime, made up of businessmen and former soldiers, prepared to plan a coup and invited Ligorría to join the effort. Julio Ligorría clearly refused to participate and when the coup attempt failed on May 11, 1988, Ligorría and his family were once again subjected to threats and persecution, for which he was forced into a self-exile that lasted from 1988 to 1993.
These events were described in the book “From War to War” (De la Guerra a la Guerra) written by the former Minister of Defense of Guatemala, General Alejandro Gramajo, who stated that very few businessmen had remained loyal to democratic orthodoxy and that one of them had been Julio Ligorria. (From War to War, page 290).
During his tenure as Ambassador of Guatemala in Washington (2013-2015), all the social media outlets in Guatemala: Radio, Television and written press- reported the positive and important work that Julio Ligorría carried out at the head of the diplomatic mission in the U.S. capital, especially on issues related to Guatemalan migrants.
However, it is important to point out that only one media outlet, through a gossip section and never in serious news or investigations, systematically attacked Ligorría, accusing him of false business that had no relation to his work. It was a clear smear campaign. The then Ambassador refused to respond to the attacks, out of respect for the dignity of his position and because they were rumors and gossip raised with the clear intention of damaging his reputation.
When he had already left office, Ambassador Ligorría made a public statement to the press and on television where he invited his detractor, the president of the newspaper El Periódico de Guatemala, known to some as “the hit man of the pen” to appear jointly on television, to take a polygraph test done by a certified polygrapher, for the population to know who was lying and who was telling the truth. His detractor never accepted this challenge. Julio Ligorría made himself available to the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office to be investigated. He was never heard, as he publicly requested.
Victim of Justice System manipulation
Throughout its history, Guatemala has been internationally accused of being a country where the human rights of its citizens are violated and where an extremely weak and corrupt justice system persists.
A justice system whose enormous weakness forced the Guatemalan government to request the help of the United Nations, which, since 2006 and as a result of the peace accords with the guerrillas, put in place a commission called CICIG (International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala). From investigating parallel security forces, Cicig went on to investigate the corruption of the Guatemalan public sector amid a whirlwind of trials that began in April 2015 and that led to the jailing of the President and Vice President of the Central American country and a large part of their cabinet.
On July 14, 2017, in an event that broad sectors interpreted as the typical case of political persecution, Julio Ligorría was accused by the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office of the alleged crime of illegal electoral financing for having been the corporate crisis advisor in 2011 of Claro/America Movil to resolve a private financial conflict with its competitor TIGO. Ligorría helped to resolve the issue successfully without the intervention of public officials and without judicial participation. It is worth mentioning that the thus resolved conflict is recorded as the largest financial conflict in the business history of the Central American country.
At that time, the manager of the telephone company advised by Ligorría made irregular contributions to the electoral campaign of the Patriota political party and to other political parties in Guatemala. The manager pleaded guilty and took full responsibility for the crime. He was convicted in court and released after paying a fine. With this action, the manager exonerated the company, its officials and advisors from all liability. For this reason, it has never been understood why Julio Ligorria would be accused of this crime in this context.
When the lawsuit was filed in July 2017, Julio Ligorría was traveling on business between America and Spain, fulfilling professional commitments. When the Guatemalan prosecutors verified his Spanish nationality and that the crime for which he was accused would never be cause for extradition, they expanded it to a new crime, this time for money laundering, providing, as evidence, bank checks in the name of the Ligorria company and invoices from the Ligorría company for services provided to companies owned by a former government official, who is in prison and who provided confusing testimony on the matter.
Strangely enough, this had been the same case for which Julio Ligorria had challenged the president of the newspaper El Periódico months earlier to prove the truthfulness of his information and that the journalist never demonstrated. It was clear that this was manipulation by a journalist whose ego was wounded, who colluded with prosecutors to damage the reputation of Julio Ligorria.
What the prosecutors did not know is that Julio Ligorría’s company had a copy of all deliverable services for which it had been hired, as well as of the bank deposit confirmations. It was one more service, like his company had provided to dozens of companies nationally and internationally in the last twenty years.
It is important to point out that more than forty (40) days after Julio Ligorría's lawyers requested a copy of the court file containing evidence of the accusations made by the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office, the judge has refused, in an official resolution, to deliver said file, with the excuse that the request is “inaccurate”. With this and other acts, the procedural and constitutional rights of Julio Ligorría have been systematically violated, leading to the certainty that this entire story is part of a political persecution concocted by political enemies in the sewers of the Guatemalan judicial system and that without a doubt harms the work carried out by CICIG and the Attorney General’s office to strengthen the judicial system in Guatemala.
As of the day of this publication, November 15, 2017, evidence has not been made available that would allow structuring the technical defense to prove Julio Ligorría’s innocence.
Julio Ligorría has publicly and privately stated from the beginning that he is totally willing to collaborate in the search for the truth, both with the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office and with CICIG.