Guatemalan prosecutors recently announced their intention to strip President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and several members of his political party of their immunity. The move comes following accusations that they made social media posts that allegedly encouraged students to take over a public university in 2022. The cultural heritage prosecutor, Ángel Saúl Sánchez, made the announcement during a news conference, while federal agents simultaneously executed search warrants and attempted to arrest over 30 student members of Arévalo’s party.
Arévalo, who won the presidential election in August, has faced multiple legal challenges leading up to his inauguration in January. Critics speculate that these legal attacks are politically motivated, aimed at preventing Arévalo from assuming power. However, both Attorney General Consuelo Porras and outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei have denied these allegations.
Earlier this year, students occupied San Carlos University, the only public university in Guatemala. They protested against what they saw as a fraudulent election of the school’s new rector, Walter Mazariegos. The students claimed that Mazariegos only allowed those in favor of him to cast their votes. This occupation lasted until June, and the US State Department later sanctioned Mazariegos for impeding democratic processes.
The prosecutors’ case against Arévalo and other party members includes allegations of aggravated usurpation, illegal association, and sedition. They cite examples such as a message from Arévalo, previously shared on X (formerly known as Twitter), where he congratulated the protesters at San Carlos University, stating, “the USAC is making it possible to see a ray of hope in Guatemala.”
In response to the Attorney General’s Office actions, Arévalo condemned the move as “spurious and unacceptable.” Meanwhile, the Organization of American States’ permanent council approved a resolution accusing Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office of attempting to “discredit and impede” the democratic transition of power.
As tensions rise ahead of Arévalo’s inauguration, a young party activist, Marcela Blanco, took to social media to express her fear and intimidation as agents visited her home with potential arrest. She pleaded for support, stating, “I am a citizen, I am of the people, and they are doing this to me for speaking against corruption.”
Q: What allegations are being made against President-elect Bernardo Arévalo?
A: President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and members of his party are facing allegations of making social media posts that encouraged students to take over a public university in 2022.
Q: What charges are prosecutors pursuing against Arévalo and his party members?
A: Prosecutors plan to pursue charges of aggravated usurpation, sedition, and illegal association against Bernardo Arévalo and others.
Q: Why are these legal attacks considered politically motivated?
A: Critics speculate that the legal attacks against Arévalo are politically motivated to prevent him from assuming power.
Q: What actions have international observers taken in response to the situation?
A: The Organization of American States’ permanent council has approved a resolution accusing Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office of attempting to “discredit and impede” the democratic transition of power.
Q: How did students protest against the election of the new rector of San Carlos University?
A: Students occupied San Carlos University, claiming that the election of the new rector was fraudulent as only those in favor of him were allowed to cast their votes.