(Washington, United States) The transition which began last week in Guatemala under the observation of the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, seemed to be going well.
Almagro praised this Monday the steps taken by outgoing president Alejandro Giammattei to hand over power to Bernardo Arévalo peacefully and described the president’s attitude as “democratic.” In any case, he questioned “other spaces of the State, where democratic clarity does not exist at this time.”
One day after these statements made by the Secretary General of the OAS, The Public Ministry of Guatemala carried out a raid on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). The image of the prosecutor’s office delegates entering the place where the votes are stored and opening the boxes generated concern in the international community, which closely follows what is happening in the Central American country from Washington.
Representatives of different countries before the OAS consulted by Infobae This Tuesday they were concerned about these new advances by the Prosecutor’s Office, but in the organization there is also a good assessment of the attitude of the outgoing Executive Branch.
The signal that the OAS wants to convey is that they will not take their eyes off the country, because they understand that it was the unanimous reaction of the international community that allowed Arévalo not to be removed from the race as the Prosecutor’s Office and some parties attempted after the first round. The OAS also believes that it was international pressure and the organization’s efforts that allowed the second round to take place normally.
In the runoff, Arévalo won with 60% of the votes. The result was validated and confirmed by the TSE and both the OAS and European Union observation missions validated that the electoral process took place normally.
On Tuesday night, the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) for the Guatemalan elections issued a statement in which it expresses its “deep concern” about what it considers a “frontal attack on the integrity of the vote” through these raids by the Prosecutor’s Office.
The MOE recalls in its statement that the Electoral Law of Guatemala, which has constitutional status, establishes that the TSE is the only competent body to validate the votes, so the opening of the boxes with the citizens’ votes is “an affront to the popular will.”
“These actions constitute further proof that the Public Ministry, far from adjusting its actions to democratic standards, has been sharpening a strategy of questioning of the electoral process and intimidation of the electoral authorities, the electoral personnel and the thousands of people who, with enormous civic commitment, carried out two days of peaceful and transparent voting”says the MOE.
For the OAS mission, the Prosecutor’s Office carries out a policy of “criminal prosecution” and considers that these actions “may constitute conduct typical of the crimes of malfeasance and abuse of authority.”
“To question these elections already held is to question the very will of the people of Guatemala, which on August 20 expressed itself forcefully at the polls,” says the OAS statement, which also ensures that after having observed the documentation, the complaints of alleged irregularities in the electoral process “lack basis.”
Almagro was in Guatemala last week, for the first meeting between Giammatei, Arévalo and their teams. He returned this Monday for the second meeting and remains in the country.
Last week the secretary general met with the attorney general of Guatemala, Consuelo Porrasto convey the message that all the countries in the region unanimously asked Almagro to bring them.
In the statement issued two weeks ago by the Permanent Council, all countries asked Almagro “to, during his visit, resume high-level meetings with relevant actors, particularly the Public Ministry, highlighting the importance of the separation of powers that is essential for the exercise of democracy and that the use of the legal system as “a tool to intimidate and improperly change electoral results is not acceptable.”
After that meeting with Almagro, Porras made a statement to the press, in which he did not accept questions and said that “the Public Ministry is not a political institution” and that they are only investigating complaints. “It is an eminently technical institution, whose function is to investigate citizen complaints and respond to the victim of crimes. We categorically reject any accusation that seeks to involve the MP with the result of the electoral event.“said the attorney general.
Porras is accused of corruption by the United States and is banned from entering the country for obstructing investigations. For the State Department, the prosecutor wants to “undermine” the institution.
This Tuesday’s raid was ordered by prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, the same one who carried out a request to disqualify the Semilla Movement during the runoff campaign, when the electoral law explicitly establishes that neither political movements can be deregistered. nor candidates during an electoral process.
At that time, Judge Fredy Orellana gave the green light to that request and they asked the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to suspend Semilla. Both Curruchiche and Orellana are also considered by the United States to be corrupt officials.
A group of social organizations from Guatemala, grouped under the name of Mirador Electoral, sent a public letter to Almagro on Tuesday in which they expressed concern about the new advances of the Public Ministry against the TSE.
The organizations consider that “electoral boycott actions” are taking place in the country by the Public Ministry, “allied judges” and “power groups that influence them.”
In the letter, from Mirador Electoral they affirm that there is no history of a similar situation, in which prosecutors open ballot boxes with votes.
For all these reasons, the organizations ask Almagro to urgently convene a new Permanent Council of the OAS that considers ruling on a “breakdown of the constitutional order in electoral matters” and what they consider an “evident threat to democratic institutions in Guatemala”.