Demonstrations against alleged interference in the presidential election in Guatemala

Hundreds of Guatemalans demonstrated in Guatemala’s capital on Sunday demanding the resignation of the attorney general and a handful of prosecutors who allegedly tried to obstruct the second round of presidential elections.

Many protesters carried placards demanding an end to the right-wing campaign, which is widely seen as a challenge to the legitimacy of the second round on 20 August.

Bernardo Arevalo will face former first lady Sandra Torres, also center-left. The winner would end 12 years of right-wing rule in the Central American country.

Organizers have called on protesters to block roads and close businesses on Monday as part of a nationwide strike against election interference.

Protesters demanded the dismissal of Attorney General Consuelo Porras, whose office is seeking to disqualify Social Democrat Bernardo Arevalo’s Semilla (SEED) party, which made it to the second round, angering a portion of Guatemala’s population.

“There has been a series of bogus legal actions aimed at canceling the June 25 (first round of voting),” Maya activist Elida Vicente told AFP.

Protesters chanted, “Bring out the corrupt! We’ve done enough.”

The legal actions in recent weeks have been widely interpreted in Guatemala and abroad as an attempt to block Mr. Arevalo’s candidacy.

Last year, the US State Department listed Ms Poras on Washington’s 2021 list of “corrupt actors”, accusing her of “obstructing and undermining an anti-corruption investigation”.

The protesters also demanded the dismissal of Judge Freddy Orellana and Prosecutor Rafael Curuciche.

March in Guatemala City against judicial interference in the presidential election, July 23, 2023 (AFP – Johan Ordóñez)

On Mr Kuruchiche’s orders, Mr Orellana ordered the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to disqualify the Semilla party, citing inconsistencies in the way it was formed in 2017.

The Constitutional Court of Guatemala rejected the TSE’s appeal and stated that the vote “cannot be influenced” by the actions of any institution.

Judicial officers raided the TSE twice seeking the arrest of an official there, and searches were carried out at Semilla’s headquarters in the capital on Friday.

On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “great concern” about the elections in a statement, and urged Guatemalan authorities to “protect civilians against any illegal or arbitrary interference in the electoral process”.

Add a Comment