Guatemalans Vote Overwhelmingly For Change But Threats Remain

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Author: Tania Del Moral

On Sunday, August 20, Guatemalans went to the polls to have their voices heard in the run-off elections for president vote. LAWG’s Executive Director, Vicki Gass, observed the voting process in Guatemala and met with members of human rights organizations, lawyers, independent journalists, ambassadors, and electoral observers. 

What’s Happening?

As predicted, Bernardo Arévalo of the Semilla Party was democratically elected against Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope (UNE) party by a landslide. Arévalo, who campaigned and won on an anti-corruption agenda, is a threat to the pacto de corruptos (Pact of the Corrupt), a political, economic, and military elite network that rules the law of the land in Guatemala, The 58% of Guatemalans who voted for Arévalo are tired of the corrupt status quo and impunity of the pacto de corruptos. 

Here are the main takeaways:

1. Guatemalans voted overwhelming for change; the Semilla Party won in a landslide victory over the UNE party 58% to 37% by official accounts.

2. There are concerns that the Public Ministry (MP) will take legal action against the Semilla party, especially since the UNE party has yet to accept their loss. The international community must remain vigilant for the pacto de corrupto’s attempts to reverse the people’s vote in order to continue with corruption and impunity.

The Biden administration and Congressmembers need to defend the election results and the president-elect to ensure that the voices of Guatemalans are heard leading up to the inauguration on January 14, 2024. Join us in urging action against the efforts of the losing candidate Sandra Torres and the pacto de corruptos who aim to undo the people’s vote for change and prolong the reign of corruption and impunity. 

What You Can Do!

We need your voice to advocate for change! Reach out to your congressperson today and urge them to: 

  1. Demand that the Guatemalan government and its backers desist from any criminalization or attacks against the Semilla Party candidates, candidates-elect and their supporters.
  1. Safeguard the freedom of speech and human rights of independent journalists and human rights defenders during this volatile transition period.
  2. Work with the transition government in developing concrete policies and plans for sustainable and equitable development, protection of human rights and all human rights defenders, and the implementation of good governance.
  3. Pressure for the release of unjustly imprisoned anti-corruption crusaders such as former prosecutor Virginia Laparra and journalist José Ruben Zamora

  1. Click now to send your message to your member of Congress. If you are following the situation in Guatemala closely, you can also call your member of Congress and ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Together, we can ensure that corruption and impunity do not prevail.

Here is a sample script: 

“My name is [YOUR NAME], and I’m a constituent from [YOUR CITY OR AREA]. I am calling to urge [REPRESENTATIVE X/Senator Y] to support the peaceful transition of power in Guatemala, as Bernardo Arévalo has just been elected. A statement or tweet from you would demonstrate to the corrupt powers in Guatemala that the international community is closely watching and cares about protecting human rights and good governance in Guatemala. I hope you will consider my request, and thank you for your time.”

Stand up for the rights of Guatemalans and make your voice heard in Congress TODAY!