The rejection of the arrest in Guatemala of university students, professors and opponents who protested against allies of Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who according to critics maintains an attack against the electoral process and the elected president Bernardo Arévalo, grew inside and outside the Central American country while indigenous leaders announced more protest actions.
At a press conference on Friday, the spokesman for the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, said that he was alarmed by the latest judicial actions carried out in Guatemala, which according to some governments and international organizations endanger the democratic transition in the country and where President-elect Arévalo must assume power in January.
“(Guterres) reiterates his call to the authorities to guarantee that the democratic will expressed through the ballot box is respected and to refrain from acts that could undermine the democratic process or that could constitute reprisals for the exercise of human rights,” said the spokesperson Stephane Dujarric to the press.
For their part, indigenous authorities who have been leading protests for more than a month and a half demanding the resignation of Porras, whom they accuse of trying to invalidate the general elections won by Arévalo, announced on Friday that they will intensify their actions as a result of the arrests.
They urged the business sector to speak out about the situation and reiterated their request to the Organization of American States (OAS) to urgently apply the Democratic Charter, as well as to democratic countries that are signatories to the international conventions on organized crime and against corruption to impose sanctions. to corrupt officials of the Guatemalan State who undermine democracy.
The prosecutor’s office led by Porras announced on Thursday arrest warrants against 28 people, including university students, professors and political opponents, as well as 31 raids on their residences for the takeover of the only public university in the country.
The students took over the university between April 2022 and June 2023, denouncing the fraudulent election of rector Walter Mazariegos, considered a close ally of Porras.
The prosecution never investigated the reported fraud, although it did investigate the takeover of the university and announced that it will request the withdrawal of immunity of Arévalo, his elected vice president Karin Herrera and at least five current and elected deputies from Arévalo’s party—Semilla—and three legislators from other political organizations for having published messages on their social networks supporting the takeover of the university. The prosecution accuses these people of alleged crimes of illicit association, usurpation and sedition.
“From the outside it is seen that there is a government (led by President Alejandro Giammatei) that wants to perpetuate itself as a dictatorship, and is as similar to the governments of Venezuela as that of Hugo Chavez (now deceased) and (his successor) Nicolás Maduro, or like that of Nicaragua with Daniel Ortega,” said Stephen McFarland, who was the United States ambassador to Guatemala between 2000 and 2011, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “There the country loses its image of democracy and its image of stability”.
“I believe that what the prosecutor’s office has done with the arrests is a kidnapping, they are holding them hostage, the purpose is to send messages to foment fear among the opposition,” said the former diplomat.
“The groups that use these methods always have the same pattern, it is a message to the inside of the corrupt pact (as the population calls judicial and political officials who in collusion seek impunity in acts of corruption) to tell them to remember that there are “A plan, a program, tie your pants and continue with the plan, there have been some fissures and your allies want to try to correct that,” he added.
The day before, the US government responded to the arrests by sanctioning 11 Guatemalans, including employees of the prosecutor’s office and others who participate in what they describe as “continuous and brazen attempts to undermine the peaceful transition of power in Guatemala to the elected president Bernardo Arévalo,” he announced. The US State Department warned that it will continue with more sanctions.
On Thursday, the General Secretariat of the OAS said in a statement that the measures of the Public Ministry led by Porras “constitute actions of a political nature that distort the electoral process and can affect its result, which is why they are absolutely inadmissible and unacceptable to a democratic political system.”
He added that this violates what is established by the Inter-American Democratic Charter.