The Organization of American States (OAS) has expressed its concern over the legal actions taken by Guatemala’s justice system against the president-elect Bernardo Arevalo and his party, the Seed Movement. The OAS said that these actions seem to be aimed at preventing Arevalo from taking office in January 2023.
Arevalo won the presidential runoff on August 20, 2023, with more than 20 points over his rival, former first lady Sandra Torres. The OAS’s election observation mission, led by Eladio Loizaga, confirmed that the election was peaceful, transparent and reflected the will of the people.
However, after the election, prosecutors requested a judge to suspend the legal status of the Seed Movement, alleging that the party had used fraudulent signatures to register in 2017. The suspension would prevent the party’s members, including Arevalo, from holding key government positions, such as on congressional committees.
On Wednesday, September 1, 2023, Guatemala’s Congress, controlled by the current ruling party, declared the Seed Movement’s seven lawmakers as independents, stripping them of their leadership roles. Arevalo, who is also a congressman, was among those affected by this decision.
Loizaga denounced these actions as “selective, disproportionate and clearly tailored to the political moment”. He told a special meeting of the OAS’s permanent council that “the mechanisms and tools of Guatemalan justice are being used politically” against Arevalo and his party. He warned that preventing Arevalo from taking power would break the constitutional order and go against the will of the people.
Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro, who attended the meeting, denied that there was an electoral crisis or a threat to peace. He said that the legal actions were part of a normal judicial process and that Arevalo’s victory was respected.
The OAS urged Guatemala to respect the democratic institutions and the rule of law, and to guarantee a peaceful and orderly transition of power. The OAS also offered its support and cooperation to Arevalo and his team.