September 2023International News

Guatemalan Political Tension Continues After Presidential Election

Austin DelSontro
Staff Writer

On September 3, 2023, Guatemala’s election tribunal revealed that they temporarily revoked the suspension order placed on President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s political party, Movimiento Semilla, reports Reuters. This suspension order, which was issued just before Arévalo’s party was declared victorious, triggered considerable confusion immediately following the election and raised doubts about his victory. This decision effectively reinstated the legal status of Arévalo’s party, momentarily thwarting the efforts of opposing political factions to undermine his victory.

Reuters further reports that such an action comes closely after the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, extended the U.S. congratulatory message to Arévalo for his election victory on August 28. However, Blinken also expressed the United States’ lingering concerns regarding ongoing attempts to weaken the foundations of Guatemala’s democracy.

As CNN details, following the suspension order placed on his political party, President-elect Arévalo claimed that powerful groups within the country’s justice system, who oppose his victory in the August 20 presidential runoffs, want to stage a coup. Arévalo, in a press conference, asserted that these groups, allegedly led by the nation’s Attorney General, are actively working to disrupt the constitutional order and undermine democracy. The Public Ministry is currently investigating allegations that Movimiento Semilla forged signatures when the party sought legitimization as a political entity.

Delving into the general elections held in June, Al Jazeera explores the unexpected performance of the Movimiento Semilla. The party defied initial expectations by emphasizing anti-corruption principles. This strategic focus secured the party a total of 23 seats in Congress and propelled its presidential nominee, Arévalo, into a run-off election.Initially considered an underdog candidate, Arévalo emerged as a front-runner, orchestrating a significant upset in the first round. He maintained this momentum and ultimately secured a resounding victory in the run-off.

BBC News highlights how global observers believe Bernardo Arévalo’s triumph to be a rejection of the entrenched political establishment in the Central American nation. This establishment had long grappled with persistent allegations of corruption. The 64-year-old former diplomat emerged as the triumphant victor, clinching an impressive 61 percent of the votes, while the establishment’s preferred candidate, former First Lady Sandra Torres, garnered only 39 percent. The son of former president Juan José Arévalo, Bernardo Arévalo’s campaign achieved a significant upset, defying both opinion polls and facing legal challenges and disqualification attempts against his Movimiento Semilla. 

Al Jazeera highlights how the soon-to-be former Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei declared his intention to ensure a smooth and open transition of authority to President-elect Arévalo. However, President Giammattei’s words coincide with allegations that certain members of his administration are endeavoring to disrupt Arevalo’s political party and cast doubt on his electoral win. These attempts to undermine the democratic election process contribute to a concerning trend of democratic erosion evident in other Latin American nations.

President-elect Arévalo will take office on January 14, 2024.  France 24 explains that his victory comes at a time when issues such as corruption, poverty, and gang violence have left the nation’s 17 million citizens disheartened, prompting many to seek improved prospects abroad, including in the U.S. Consequently, global observers anxiously monitor the unfolding situation and its potential implications for Guatemala’s evolving political landscape.

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