Thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets on Monday, in the midst of an environment of electoral turmoil that has lasted for almost a month, to demand that the country’s democracy be respected after the fiscal and judicial actions against one of the two parties that will go to the second round of the presidential elections and against the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
The protest rejects the judicialization of the electoral process, in the face of the attempts of the Prosecutor of suspend the political party Movimiento Semilla, whose leader, Bernardo Arévalo, will compete for the presidency of the country on August 20 against the right-wing candidate Sandra Torres. The replacement of the president, Alejandro Giammattei, will come out of the second round.
Since Monday morning several groups of doctors, students, workers or activists have been touring zone one of the Guatemalan capital carrying protest signs in a peaceful manner. The protesters announced that they will gather in front of the headquarters of the Guatemalan Prosecutor’s Office to show their dissatisfaction with their actions and those of the country’s courts, which, they believe, are putting Guatemala’s fragile democracy at risk.
One of the most repeated demands in the protests that have arisen after the June 25 elections is the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras for considering that she is the one leading the judicialization of the Seed Movement.
The rejection was also directed against the government and the president. “Mythomaniac, corrupt, mediocre and looter, Alejandro Giammattei; is interfering in the electoral process, together with Miguel Martínez [amigo íntimo del presidente y ex funcionario de gobierno]together with his prosecutor and friend, the impunity prosecutor Consuelo Porras”, protested Sergio Morataya, one of the protesters.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity, headed by prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, who is very close to Porras, obtained the support of a court order to suspend legal status of the Seed movement, alleging that it was constituted as a party with alleged irregularities in the collection of affiliate signatures.
The Public Ministry began an investigation and in the last two weeks Judge Fredy Orellana ordered a search of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal twice and issued an arrest warrant against the authority in charge of it, despite the provisional injunctions granted by the Constitutional Court (CC).
The highest court in the country corrected the plan and said that, according to the Electoral and Political Parties Law, the legal status of a political organization cannot be suspended while the electoral process is taking place, but it left the path open for the Prosecutor’s Office to continue with a criminal investigation against party members.
Despite the fact that the CC said that Semilla could not be suspended, Judge Orellana ordered the arrest of a TSE official for not executing his court order. The political party has asked to separate the magistrate considering that his interest and partiality in the case has been exposed, but he has refused to separate from him.
Under the US magnifying glass
Porras and Curruchiche were sanctioned in 2021 by the US State Department for undermining democracy and hindering the fight against corruption. Orellana was placed on the sanctions list in July 2023.
This same Monday, through a senior official, The United States highlighted Guatemala the significance of allowing a second round of elections to take place without interference.
Arévalo will compete for the presidency with the right-wing Sandra Torres, as announced by the TSE on July 12, since Guatemalan law stipulates that if no one reaches 50% of the votes, there will be a run-off between the two most voted candidates. None of the 22 pairings obtained a sufficient majority to win in a single round.
The court it took 17 days in making the result of the elections official, due to legal appeals presented by the losing parties and which were accepted by the Constitutional Court. This authorized a second review of the records that collected the votes, which finally ended with the confirmation by the TSE that there were no significant changes that would modify the results obtained.
That same July 12, one hour before the TSE will announce officially those who were going to the ballot, prosecutor Curruchiche announced in a video that he was initiating criminal proceedings against Semilla, for events that occurred in 2017 and 2018.
Some 9.3 million Guatemalans are called to the polls on August 20 to elect president.