The Public Ministry of Guatemala seeks to sabotage the transfer of power with a new case against Bernardo Arévalo
The Public Ministry of Guatemala, headed by Attorney General Consuelo Porras, continues to undermine the path of the elected president. Bernardo Arévalo, to take office: this Thursday the Prosecutor's Office opened a new case that not only points to the president as responsible for damage to the assets of the University of San Carlos of Guatemala (Usac), but also opens a preliminary trial and demands that he be stripped of his immunity to prosecute it. The complaint also reaches the vice president-elect, Karin Herrera, and deputies from the Semilla Movement, the political party that champions an anti-corruption discourse that earned it enough popular support to win the second electoral round.
“The actions of the Public Ministry against members of the Semilla Movement are spurious and unacceptable,” Arévalo expressed on his account on the social network X, formerly Twitter. Prosecutor Saúl Sánchez, in charge of the new investigation, pointed out that the president-elect for alleged “crimes of aggravated usurpation, depredation of cultural property and illicit association.”
The MP's actions against members of the Semilla Movement are spurious and unacceptable.
We demand respect for the safety and integrity of @marce__blanco and any other member of the party subjected to these abuses. We will be taking the necessary measures to protect you and...
— Bernardo Arévalo (@BArevalodeLeon) November 16, 2023
In a press conference held this Thursday morning, the Prosecutor's Office accused Arévalo and Herrera of participating in the forcible takeover of the state university campus in 2022; a student protest in rejection of the elections held that year at the university, when university students denounced irregularities in the election of Walter Mazariegos as rector of USAC.
Apart from the pretrial against the presidential duo of the Semilla Movement, the Prosecutor's Office issued 28 arrest warrants, the majority related to this new case and another arrest warrant against the former head of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office (PDH), Jordan Rodas, on the other hand. cause. Rodas had participated in the selection process for the rector of USAC, but was torpedoed. Mazariegos was elected in his place, whom the United States included last July on the Engel List of those sanctioned for distorting “democratic processes or institutions by accepting the position of rector of the public education institution in July 2022, after a selection process. fraudulent".
Although these are separate cases, according to the Public Ministry, Rodas assures that this new case against the president-elect is part of the same insistence of the "pact of the corrupt" of Guatemala to sabotage the inauguration, therefore, he insists, circumvent the will of Guatemalans expressed at the polls.
“The case against me and against President Arévalo is poorly presented, it has no legal basis, but this is further proof that not only the Prosecutor's Office, but also the corrupt pact do not respect the popular decision. Just as the elections were stolen at the San Carlos University, they are trying to steal the country's elections, when the people clearly chose to have Bernardo Arévalo as the next president of the country," Rodas, who has been exiled for a year and two months, after his vice-presidential candidacy in the People's Liberation Movement (MLP) party was blocked. In fact, the arrest warrant issued this Thursday against Rodas is related to the former attorney's participation in the 2023 electoral contest.
“Surprisingly, they arrived today at my residence in Quetzaltenango, where my wife and daughter are, when it is public knowledge that I am not in Guatemala,” said Rodas. “They intimidate my family which is despicable. Then I heard that press conference from the Public Ministry and it is a spurious case. My great crime was aspiring to be rector of the only public university. "I was on the verge of winning the process and today I see that many people who aspire to a USAC that plays its role, that seeks the common good, that points out to remove the mafias from power, see themselves criminalized."
Arrests and “evidence” against Arévalo
Prosecutor Saúl Sánchez assured that the president-elect could have committed the crimes of aggravated usurpation, depredation of cultural property and illicit association. During the presentation of the case, the official showed as alleged evidence against Arévalo screenshots of videos of the president-elect in the university facilities, participating in academic events, when the campus had already been liberated.
The Prosecutor's Office will also seek to remove the immunity of the Semilla Movement deputies Samuel Pérez and Román Castellanos, as well as the elected deputy Raúl Barrera, among others. The accusation details that the accused used the takeover of the university as a “platform for their political candidacies.” In this same case, the former candidate for deputy of the Semilla party Marcela Blanco was captured and an arrest warrant was issued against 25 other people, including former officials, politicians, students and university professors. Although not all the names of the defendants have been made public.
The Public Ministry of Consuelo Porras has been strongly criticized in Guatemala and abroad for trying to intervene in the results of the elections and seeking to cancel the party of the elected president. Arévalo has publicly denounced Porras for leading an attempted “coup d'état” against him to prevent him from taking possession of the presidency on January 14.
The United States threatens sanctions
The United States threatened this Friday to impose new economic sanctions and visa restrictions against Guatemalan authorities if the president-elect does not take office on January 14. “We are willing to use all our tools to combat this attack on democracy in Guatemala, including economic, sectoral or visa sanctions,” said the assistant secretary of the State Department for Latin America, Brian Nichols, in an interview with EFE.
The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) condemned the request of the Guatemalan Prosecutor's Office to withdraw the immunity of the elected presidential duo. In a statement, the OAS “strongly condemns the presentation of preliminary proceedings made today by the Public Ministry of Guatemala, which includes the president-elect of the country, Bernardo Arévalo, the vice president-elect, Karin Herrera, as well as several members of the political parties Semilla, “VOS and Winaq.”
The decisions of the Public Ministry of Guatemala “constitute actions of a political nature that distort the electoral process and can affect its result, which is why they are absolutely inadmissible and unacceptable for a democratic political system,” according to the OAS. He also pointed out that the Prosecutor's Office "as an institution of the State is in violation of what is established by the Inter-American Democratic Charter."
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