Guatemala prepares for presidential elections amid mistrust over fraud

Guatemala prepares for presidential elections amid mistrust over fraud

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On March 25, the registration of candidates for the June general elections in Guatemala ends, although different sectors of the Central American country assure that the conditions do not exist to ensure transparency in the elections. The country is experiencing a profound regression in terms of respect for human rights and access to justice. “It seems that we are still in the war, only now with votes,” Paulo René Estrada, a human rights defender, told Escala in Paris.

The signing of the peace accords in Guatemala in 1996 put an end to an armed conflict that bled the country dry for more than 30 years, and although it was hoped to end the violence definitively, this did not happen.

Proof of this is the current electoral process that will culminate in the general elections in June. Before closing the registration of the final candidates, possible options were already separated while impunity and the denial of justice gain ground.

How to explain this regression? Virgilio Álvarez, sociologist and executive director of the opinion magazine ‘Gazeta.GT’, judges that “the process of building the new dictatorship in Guatemala began with the expulsion of the International Commission Against Impunity in 2019.”

This independent international body had the mission of supporting various state institutions to investigate crimes committed by members of illegal groups and clandestine apparatuses.

The former director of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Guatemala adds that “Congress does not elect the representatives of the Supreme Court” because the current one is “a Supreme Court of Justice hand-picked to be able to comply with everything else.”

What is everything else? “Control the entire justice system, which is why the operators of the legal apparatus have had to leave the country, because they are being persecuted by the same system for which they work,” explains the former director.

In this context, it is difficult to imagine that the elections scheduled for June will take place in compliance with electoral regulations.

Paulo René Estrada, human rights defender and member of the Organization of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared of Guatemala, affirms that “in the case of Guatemala there has never been a good will on the part of the State or the governments to want to prosecute the crimes of the previous governments”.

“(…) It’s the same human rights violators, the same genocidal ones who are in power and those who put presidents in and take them down,” says the activist.

It adds that since 1996, the indigenous peoples affected by the genocidal policies of the years of military dictatorship have acquired political leadership without obtaining full reparation or justice.

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Written by Editor TLN

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