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Guatemalan Prosecutors Request Stripping of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s Immunity

November 18, 2023 | by b1og.net

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Guatemalan Prosecutors Request Stripping of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s Immunity

In a dramatic turn of events, Guatemalan prosecutors have formally requested the stripping of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s immunity. The Attorney General’s office claims that Arévalo and his vice president encouraged the student occupation of the country’s only public university, leading to a wave of criticism and international condemnation. The request to lift their immunity would allow prosecutors to pursue a formal investigation into allegations of exploitation of cultural assets, influence peddling, and illegal association. This latest legal move is seen by observers as an attempt to prevent Arévalo from assuming power in January and protect the country’s corrupt political and economic elite.

Guatemalan Prosecutors Request Stripping of President-elect Bernardo Arévalos Immunity

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Introduction

In a surprising turn of events, Guatemalan prosecutors have made a formal request to strip President-elect Bernardo Arévalo of his immunity. The request comes in light of allegations that Arévalo and his vice president encouraged the student occupation of the country’s only public university. This request has generated a wave of criticism and is raising questions about the future of Arévalo’s presidency. In this article, we will delve into the background information surrounding this request, the reactions and condemnations it has received, and the legal battle that Arévalo now faces.

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Background Information

Guatemalan prosecutors request President-elect Bernardo Arévalo be stripped of immunity

The Guatemalan Attorney General’s office has formally requested that President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and his vice president be stripped of their immunity. This request is the result of allegations that they encouraged the student occupation of the country’s only public university. By lifting their immunity, prosecutors will be able to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations.

Wave of criticism following the request

The announcement of the request to strip Arévalo of his immunity has stirred up a storm of criticism both within and outside of Guatemala. Many are questioning the timing and motive behind this request, as it comes just before Arévalo is set to take office. Some see it as an attempt to prevent him from assuming power and protecting the corrupt elite that has long controlled Guatemala.

Crimes being investigated

The crimes that prosecutors plan to pursue against Arévalo and his associates include the exploitation of cultural assets, influence peddling, and illegal association. These serious allegations suggest a potential abuse of power and violation of the law. The investigation aims to shed light on these allegations and hold those responsible accountable.

Student occupation of San Carlos University

In April 2022, students staged a takeover of San Carlos University, the only public university in Guatemala. This action was in response to what they believed was a fraudulent election of the new rector, Walter Mazariegos. The students claimed that Mazariegos manipulated the voting process to ensure his victory. The occupation lasted until June of the following year and attracted national attention.

US sanctions against Walter Mazariegos

In response to the allegations of fraud surrounding the election at San Carlos University, the US State Department imposed sanctions on Walter Mazariegos. The department denounced his actions as undermining democratic processes and deemed his appointment as the rector following a fraudulent process. This move signaled international disapproval of Mazariegos’s actions and highlighted the importance of fair and transparent elections.

Reaction and Condemnation

Condemnation from the US government

The announcement of the request to strip Arévalo of his immunity has drawn condemnation from various entities, including the US government. The US State Department, in particular, has expressed concern over the potential violation of democratic principles and the rule of law. The US has been a vocal supporter of democratic governance in Guatemala and has taken a strong stance against any actions that undermine these principles.

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Response from international observers

International observers, including the United Nations secretary-general and the Organization of American States, have also voiced their concerns regarding the request to strip Arévalo of his immunity. These observers play a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of democratic processes and upholding human rights. Their condemnation sends a strong message that any attempts to subvert the will of the people will not be tolerated.

Request made to judiciary

The Attorney General’s office has made the formal request to strip Arévalo of his immunity to the Guatemalan judiciary. However, it remains unclear where the request will be channeled. Typically, the Supreme Court of Justice rules on requests to strip elected officials of immunity. However, the unique circumstances of this case, with Arévalo being a president-elect, make it uncertain as to who will ultimately be responsible for deciding on the request.

Uncertainty about where the request will be channeled

Constitutional lawyer Alejandro Balsells has pointed out that there is no clear precedent in Guatemala for a president-elect facing a request to strip immunity. This uncertainty raises questions about the legal process and whether Arévalo is entitled to multiple hearings due to his dual immunity as a congressman and president-elect. The resolution of this uncertainty will be crucial in determining the path forward for Arévalo and the investigation against him.

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Legal Salvo Against Arévalo

Attempt to keep Arévalo from taking power

Many view this request to strip Arévalo of his immunity as an attempt to prevent him from assuming the presidency in January. Arévalo, an anti-corruption crusader, shocked the nation by winning the presidential election in August. This unexpected victory posed a threat to the entrenched political and economic elite in Guatemala. The legal battle now unfolding is seen by some as a desperate move to protect the status quo and maintain the grip of corruption.

Denial of political motivations

Both Attorney General Consuelo Porras and outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei have denied that the request to strip Arévalo of his immunity is politically motivated. They insist that it is solely based on the allegations of crimes committed by Arévalo and his associates. However, given the timing of the request and the broader political context, many remain skeptical of these denials.

Previous accusations against Arévalo’s party

Since Arévalo secured a spot in the August runoff, prosecutors have been pursuing his party on allegations of wrongdoing related to the gathering of necessary signatures to register years earlier. At the request of the prosecutors, a judge suspended the party pending further investigation. These previous accusations have set the stage for the current legal salvo against Arévalo and have contributed to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding his upcoming presidency.

Conclusion

The request to strip President-elect Bernardo Arévalo of his immunity has sent shockwaves through Guatemala and attracted international attention. The allegations of encouraging the student occupation of the country’s only public university have ignited a fierce legal battle that could impact the country’s political future. As the investigation unfolds and the legal process plays out, the fate of Arévalo’s presidency hangs in the balance. The world will be watching closely to see how Guatemala handles this unprecedented situation and whether justice will be served.

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