U.S. Imposes Visa Bans on Guatemalan Officials Amidst Post-Election Turmoil

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By Marco Echevarria

The State Department announced on Tuesday that it’s taking decisive action against individuals responsible for eroding democracy in Guatemala. In a bold move, the department has instituted visa bans affecting several figures and their families. These bans come in the aftermath of an election that has raised eyebrows and sparked protests across the nation.

Sources reveal that the sanctions hit close to home for certain officials within the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office, alongside various other key players in both public and private sectors. The identities of those sanctioned remain undisclosed.

Amid international concern, the U.S. has joined the chorus of voices condemning the Guatemalan power structure’s alleged attempts to obstruct the incoming administration of president-elect Bernardo Arevalo. The political impasse has led to widespread unrest, with citizens demanding a change in leadership at the Attorney General’s office. The controversy hinges on allegations by the office that Arevalo’s Semilla Party engaged in fraudulent activities—claims the party fervently refutes.

Arevalo, whose presidential campaign promised to tackle corruption head-on, secured a significant victory in August. As a center-left advocate and the progeny of a past president, Arevalo’s mandate seems clear as he prepares to assume office on January 14th.

The U.S. State Department’s statement was unequivocal: “The United States rejects the continued efforts to undermine Guatemala’s peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arevalo.”

While the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office has remained tight-lipped about the repercussions of these sanctions, it’s clear that the U.S. is not shying away from the possibility of escalating measures. Earlier in the month, Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, hinted at the potential for targeted sanctions against those who stand in the way of democracy in Guatemala. The specifics of these sanctions, however, have yet to be revealed.