EU Moves to punish Guatemalan prosecutors who sought to prevent peaceful transfer of power

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By Marco Echevarria

On Friday, the European Union took the first step to be able to punish Guatemalan prosecutors who are hindering the investiture of President Bernardo Arévalo de León, whose ceremony will be held next Sunday.

In particular, the EU countries today approved the legal framework that will allow them to approve future sanctions against individuals and entities preventing the transfer of power, following the elections held in Guatemala in July last year.

The EU maintains its firm and unequivocal support for democracy in Guatemala. The adoption of this (legal) framework is part of this commitment. It shows that we are with the people of Guatemala and against those who are undermining the country’s democracy,” said the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, who will begin a trip to Guatemala tomorrow to attend the inauguration of Arévalo de León.

The EU’s senior representative for foreign affairs already announced in December that Brussels was finalizing preparations to approve politically motivated sanctions against the politically motivated “fiscals” in Guatemala.

When approved, sanctions will prohibit individuals from entering the EU and companies will be frozen in the goods and assets they have in the EU countries.

Borrell will meet tomorrow – Saturday – with Arévalo de León, on the eve of the investiture ceremony, with whom he will discuss the possibilities of strengthening the relationship between the EU and Guatemala.

Since Arévalo de León won the elections in August, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía) has sought with judicial cases to prevent the investiture of the president-elect and his vice president, Karin Herrera.
In the midst of rumors that the Prosecutor’s Office could arrest Herrera, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court warned yesterday against that possibility.

Borrell is also scheduled to meet on Sunday with former Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office, Virginia Laparra, recently released from prison to be placed under house arrest.

He will also hold a meeting with human rights defenders Claudia González and Haroldo Vasquez, as well as with representatives of the indigenous authorities.

Borrell will take advantage of the visit to Guatemala to hold bilateral meetings with the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, Paraguay, Santiago Peña, Brazilian Vice President Geraldo Alckmin and Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena Ibarra.

Sanctions

Last December parliamentarians of the European Union (EU) assured that there was no fraud in the elections in Guatemala and support personalized sanctions for those responsible for what they describe as an “attempted coup d’état.”

“The European Union is ready to act on the latest actions of the MP, we have agreed to adopt a legal framework for restrictive measures against those responsible,” Borrel sentenced on that occasion.

Leopoldo López Gil, a member of the European parliament for Spain, expressed his regret at what is happening in Guatemala, considering that he is an important partner in the EU.

Guatemala has suffered violence and authoritarianism, the elections they had were transparent as verified by the OAS. With a result of 60 percent of the votes Bernardo Arévalo, as confirmed by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the only entity to validate the results, it is unacceptable for the MP to seek to invalidate what the competent authorities decided, he said.

MEP Alicia Homs described the MP’s investigations as the culmination of a plan that has been carried out for months for a clear coup.

The lack of scruples of the MP is so evident that he no longer bothered to hide it, it is time to impose sanctions on those responsible for those who violate Guatemala’s constitutional order, he recommended.

For Jordi Cañas, of the Citizenship Party, in Guatemala there is a pact of corrupt people who use judges and prosecutors to annul the results of the elections.

“There was no fraud and the vote must be respected, and we must be on the right side, I want to repeat, that we will not leave them alone and the corrupt I want to tell them that they will be sanctioned by the European Union,” he said.

MEP Ana Miranda, from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, said that Guatemala has suffered a lot, has poverty and problems of inequality and that is why they voted for change.

We saw the legitimacy of results in the results, we saw that it is a clear result and there is an elected president who is called Bernardo Arévalo, there was no fraud as the European Union said. Not all attacks on democracy will get a coup, he added.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Prensa Libre