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Pro-Democracy Guatemalan Protesters Remain Defiant

With their country’s democracy in peril, thousands of Guatemalans have spent weeks blocking roads and marching to protest against top government officials for what they say are sham investigations into the political party of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo.

State of play: The protests largely target Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who has been banned from the U.S. over corruption allegations, for her office’s various moves that critics and human rights watchers say are an attempt to keep Arévalo out of office. Arévalo ran on an anti-corruption platform.

  • Porras has called the protests illegal and has defended the investigations into Semilla, saying her office has followed the law.

What to know: Guatemalans are facing an uncertain government transition after months of unproven allegations by the current government that Arévalo’s progressive party, Movimiento Semilla, falsified signatures to get on the ballot. The party denies this.

  • The protests have been led by Indigenous leaders who called for a strike until Porras resigns and have blocked dozens of roads. Although half of Guatemalans identify as Indigenous, the population has long been politically marginalized.

Arévalo is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 14. Porras’ office doesn’t appear to be is pulling back from the legal moves against Semilla, nor is she caving to protesters’ demands to resign.

  • Citing five anonymous sources, Reuters reported last week that Porras has “crafted a complex strategy” to weaken Arévalo or even stop him from taking office.
  • Porras told Reuters through a spokesperson that she always acted “in strict compliance with the law.” She has long said that the U.S. sanctions against her are an effort to “impede” her justice work.
  • Even before Arévalo’s victory on Aug. 20, experts feared Guatemala was in a state of democratic backsliding that included widespread government corruption and attacks against the press and NGOs.

An order by the nation’s top electoral court that lifted a lower court’s suspension of Movimiento Semilla expires on Oct. 31.

  • If the party’s registration is revoked again, members elected to Congress would not be able to serve on key committees, which would put Arévalo’s agenda in peril.

Source : Axios