The Electoral Tribunal of Guatemala rejects the candidacies of the left formula critical of the Giammattei Government | International

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Thelma Cabrera, candidate of the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples, in 2019, in Guatemala.James Billy (AP)

Electoral authorities in Guatemala have excluded candidates from the left-wing Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples (MLP) from the presidential race. The Electoral Tribunal of the Central American country ruled on Thursday night against an appeal filed by the leaders of the MLP, after the governing body for the elections decided at the end of January not to accept the registration of Thelma Cabrera and Jordán Rodas as candidates for the presidency and vice presidency for the elections scheduled for June. Cabrera, a Mayan indigenous leader, and Rodas, a former human rights attorney, are voices critical of the government of President Alejandro Giammattei and the decision of the Electoral Tribunal has been classified in Guatemala as a political revenge.

The ruling was decided by the plenary session of the Court's magistrates after several hours of confinement and while dozens of MLP sympathizers protested at the organization's headquarters. The demonstrators threatened to organize protests throughout the country, road closures and pickets in the main cities of Guatemala. Cabrera and Rodas now have the possibility of going to the Supreme Court of Justice to request that the decision of the Electoral Tribunal be reversed. The Court, however, has been accused of lacking impartiality and of defending the interests of the Executive headed by Giammattei. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed its concern over the decision of the Court's magistrates to withdraw the immunity of Judge Pablo Xitumul de Paz, judge of the First Court for Criminal Sentence, Drug Trafficking and Crimes against the Environment and to continue with the proceedings of a preliminary trial against Judge Erika Aifán, of the First Criminal Court of First Instance, Drug Activity and Crimes against the Environment. Aifán had to leave Guatemala due to threats against her.

Human rights organizations and international observers have criticized the Electoral Tribunal's decision to leave Cabrera and Rodas out of the elections. "The decision declaring the appeal for annulment filed by the MLP inadmissible, leaving the Cabrera-Rodas binomial out of the electoral contest is an "electoral coup" that vitiates the integrity and credibility of the elections," wrote Daniel Zovatto, a political scientist who is an expert in Latin American elections.

Cabrera and Rodas announced in December the decision to participate in the presidential elections. The Mayan indigenous leader is a prominent defender of human rights and already aspired to the presidency in the last elections, when she surprised by obtaining fourth place in the first round, with more than 450,000 votes, although it was not enough to go to the second round. This was disputed by Alejandro Giammattei and Sandra Torres, who lost the election. Rodas, for his part, has achieved international recognition for his fight against impunity during the government of former President Jimmy Morales and the current Giammattei Administration.

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