Guatemala’s democracy at risk, says OAS

Washington, Sept 1 (EFE). – Recent legal actions in Guatemala threaten the country’s “democratic stability,” warned Eladio Loizaga, head of the electoral mission of the Organization of American States, on Friday.

During a meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS, he presented his preliminary report on the second round of elections held in Guatemala on August 20.

Loizaga called the situation extremely worrisome, noting that recent judicial actions such as the suspension of the Seed Movement, the party of President-elect Bernardo Arevalo, are contributing to instability.

According to Loizaga, some of the actions taken by the judiciary and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, such as the prosecution of the Seed Movement after the first round of elections on July 25, could be considered an abuse of power.

“The Mission considers that the misuse of legal instruments and legal tricks by actors who have nothing to do with the electoral process creates a high level of insecurity and threatens the democratic stability of the country,” he said.

He also expressed concern about Monday’s decision by the Civil Registry of Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal to suspend the Seed Movement.

As Loizaga himself acknowledged, the implications of this decision “are not yet clear,” although “various actors have suggested that the intention is precisely to prevent elected authorities from taking office.

This would be “a violation of the law, a violation of the Constitution, and a violation of the will of the citizens expressed in the elections,” he added.

In addition to suspending the Seed Movement, the Guatemalan Congress decided on Wednesday not to recognize the parliamentarians belonging to the president-elect’s political force.

This, according to Loizaga, “violates the minimum norms of democratic coexistence and parliamentary law.

In response to the concerns expressed by OAS, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro assured that the current president, Alejandro Giammattei, is committed to ensuring an “orderly” transfer of power to Arevalo.

The process will begin on September 4 and culminate with the inauguration of the new president on January 14, 2024.

In his remarks to the Permanent Council, Bucaro downplayed recent events in Guatemala and criticized the fact that the OAS convenes a meeting “every time something happens in the country”.

According to him, Guatemala has just experienced “the most peaceful elections” in its history.

Arevalo, whose main promise is to eradicate corruption, won the presidency for the period 2024-2028 in the second round of elections on August 20 with 2.5 million votes.

He beat his rival, former first lady Sandra Torre of the National Unity of Hope, by 21%.

Torres continues to refuse to concede defeat and has raised the specter of electoral fraud, which the electoral mission has completely denied.

While the OAS meeting was taking place inside its headquarters in Washington, a small group of Guatemalans demonstrated outside to demand strong action in favor of democracy.

Carrying banners and blowing whistles, the demonstrators grabbed a megaphone every time one of the ambassadors entered the OAS building to voice their demands, such as: “We expect a firm resolution for Guatemala!” or “The OAS has a responsibility to defend democracy in our country!

Likewise, twelve human rights organizations, such as the Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (WOLA), issued a joint statement on Friday calling on the OAS to issue a “forceful” statement on the situation in Guatemala.EFE

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