Guatemalan Prosecutors Seek to Strip President-Elect of Immunity Over Campus Takeover
November 18, 2023 | by b1og.net
In a dramatic turn of events, Guatemalan prosecutors are seeking to strip President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and several members of his party of their immunity for allegedly encouraging students to take over a public university through social media posts. The actions of the prosecutors have raised concerns among external observers who see this as an attempt to prevent Arévalo from assuming power in January. The United States government, the Organization of American States, and others have condemned these legal attacks, while the outgoing President and the Attorney General of Guatemala deny any political motivations. This represents the latest challenge faced by Arévalo, an anti-corruption advocate who won the presidential election in August.
Prosecutors Seek to Strip President-Elect of Immunity
Prosecutors in Guatemala have announced their intention to remove President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and members of his party’s immunity. The allegations made against them involve social media posts that allegedly encouraged students to take over a public university over a year ago. The move to strip them of immunity is seen by some as an attempt to prevent Arévalo from taking power in January. The Attorney General and outgoing President have denied any political motivations behind the legal attacks.
Legal Salvo Against Arévalo
The legal attacks against President-elect Arévalo have continued, with accusations of wrongdoing in the signature gathering process. As a result, the party has been suspended at the request of prosecutors. This is just another example of the ongoing efforts to undermine Arévalo’s legitimacy and prevent him from assuming power.
Crimes to be Pursued
Prosecutors plan to pursue charges of aggravated usurpation, sedition, and illegal association against Arévalo and others. These charges are related to the takeover of San Carlos University, which lasted from April 2022 to June 2023. Students protested what they believed to be a fraudulent election of the university’s rector, and only those who would vote for him were allowed to cast their ballots.
San Carlos University Takeover
The takeover of San Carlos University was a significant event in Guatemala, lasting for over a year. Students took over the university in protest of the election of the new rector, which they believed to be fraudulent. During the election, only those who supported the chosen candidate were allowed to vote. The student protest gained attention and support, as it highlighted issues of corruption and undermined democratic processes.
Social Media Message
One example of a message used in the prosecutors’ documents is a social media post where Arévalo congratulated the protesters. The message, posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) in March, stated, “the USAC is making it possible to see a ray of hope in Guatemala.” This message is viewed as encouraging the campus takeover and has been cited as evidence against Arévalo and his party.
Arévalo has strongly criticized the actions of the Attorney General’s Office against his party, describing them as spurious and unacceptable. He maintains his innocence and asserts that the charges are politically motivated. Arévalo remains determined to take office in January and fulfill his promise of fighting corruption in Guatemala.
U.S. Visa Sanctions
In response to the legal attacks against Arévalo and his party, the U.S. State Department has announced visa sanctions against 11 more Guatemalans. These individuals are accused of undermining democracy and impeding the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arévalo. The United States firmly rejects any attempts to interfere with Guatemala’s democratic processes and has expressed support for Arévalo’s transition to power.
The Organization of American States (OAS) has passed a resolution condemning the actions of Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office. They have characterized it as an undemocratic actor seeking to discredit and impede the democratic transition of power. The international community is closely monitoring the situation in Guatemala and expressing concern over the politicization of the legal system.
The OAS further criticized the actions of the Attorney General’s Office, stating that they are politically motivated and distort the electoral process. These condemnations highlight the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring a fair and transparent transition of power. Guatemala’s reputation as a democratic nation is at stake, and the international community calls for respect for the rule of law.
Party Activist’s Experience
A party activist has reported incidents of intimidation and arrest attempts by authorities. Marcela Blanco took to social media to share her experience and seek support. She emphasized that she was being targeted for speaking out against corruption and emphasized her status as a citizen representing the people. This report sheds light on the potential human rights violations occurring in Guatemala and the need for accountability.
In conclusion, the legal attacks against President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and his party raise concerns about the integrity of the democratic process in Guatemala. Prosecutors aim to strip Arévalo of immunity based on allegations related to social media posts and the takeover of San Carlos University. The international community, including the United States and the OAS, has condemned these actions as politically motivated and a distortion of the electoral process. As the legal battles continue, it remains imperative to protect the democratic principles and ensure a peaceful transition of power in Guatemala.