Guatemalans Protest Against Government Officials Amid Concerns of Democracy Erosion

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Thousands of Guatemalans, concerned about their country’s democracy, are blocking roads and marching in protests against top government officials, accusing them of conducting sham investigations into President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s political party. Most of the protests aim at Attorney General Consuelo Porras, whom the U.S. has banned due to corruption allegations. Critics and human rights observers claim Porras is trying to prevent Arévalo, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, from taking office. 

However, Porras labels these protests as illegal and asserts that her office’s investigations into Semilla adhere to the law. Amidst months of baseless claims by the incumbent government about Arévalo’s progressive party, Movimiento Semilla, allegedly forging signatures to qualify for the ballot, Guatemalans are grappling with a shaky government transition. Indigenous leaders, who have long faced political marginalization despite representing half of the population, spearhead these protests. They demand Porras’ resignation and have obstructed numerous roads.

With Arévalo’s inauguration set for Jan. 14, Porras shows no signs of retracting the legal actions against Semilla or yielding to the protesters’ resignation calls. Reuters, referring to five undisclosed sources, stated last week that Porras devised a multifaceted plan to undermine Arévalo or even obstruct his accession to office. Porras communicated to Reuters via a representative, emphasizing her consistent adherence to the law. She has consistently argued that the U.S. sanctions aim to hinder her justice initiatives.

Experts have expressed concerns over Guatemala’s democratic decline, highlighting prevalent government corruption and increasing attacks on the media and NGOs, even before Arévalo’s Aug. 20 win. An injunction by the country’s leading electoral court, revoking a lower court’s halt on Movimiento Semilla, ends on Oct. 31. If authorities revoke the party’s registration again, its elected Congress members won’t be able to participate in essential committees, jeopardizing Arévalo’s policy objectives.