The United States has taken a significant step in response to what it sees as efforts to undermine democracy in Guatemala.
On Monday, it announced visa restrictions on nearly 300 Guatemalan citizens, including government officials and other individuals, citing their ‘anti-democratic actions.’
U. S. Targets Guatemalan Congress and Judiciary
These measures are a direct response to attempts aimed at invalidating the election victory of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo.
The U.S. Department of State’s statement specified that the visa restrictions encompass over 100 members of the Guatemalan Congress and representatives from the private sector, along with their family members.
This action underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to upholding democracy and the rule of law in the region.
Efforts to undermine Arévalo’s election victory intensify
Following Arévalo’s decisive victory, there have been concerted efforts by members of Congress and the Public Ministry, led by Attorney General Consuelo Porras, to question the legitimacy of the election results.
These actions included raids on electoral authority offices, requests for arrest warrants, and a recent move to strip Arévalo of his presidential immunity.
Arévalo, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, faces accusations from the ministry of money laundering and using false documents for his party, the Semilla Movement.
Arévalo’s stance against allegations, labels them ‘coup d’etat’
In response to these allegations, Arévalo, set to assume office in January, labeled these actions as an attempted “coup d’état.”
He condemned the efforts to associate him and his party with various crimes and cast doubts on the election as part of this coup attempt.
Removal of Judges’ immunity triggers protests and global critique
The situation escalated when Guatemala’s Congress, following a request from the Public Ministry, voted to remove the immunity of four out of five judges of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which is responsible for certifying the nation’s election results.
This move has led to international criticism and sparked significant protests within Guatemala, Central America’s most populous country.
U.S. criticizes moves against Arévalo and electoral officials
The US State Department’s announcement specifically cited the attempt to revoke Arevalo’s immunity and the issuance of arrest warrants for electoral workers and party representatives.
These actions were highlighted as evident efforts to delegitimize Guatemala’s free and fair elections and obstruct a peaceful transition of power.
Arévalo’s commitment to reinstate Guatemala’s democratic integrity
Bernardo Arévalo, whose father was Guatemala’s first democratically elected president in 1945, has a deep-rooted connection to the nation’s democratic history.
Born in Uruguay during his parents’ exile, Arévalo has pledged to facilitate the return of journalists, judges, and prosecutors who fled Guatemala following the closure of a United Nations-backed anti-corruption commission, known as CICIG.