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OAS General Secretariat Condemns Filing of Pre-Trials in Guatemala Against President-Elect and Other Officials

  November 16, 2023

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) strongly condemns the filing of pre-trial proceedings made today by Guatemala’s Public Ministry, which includes the country's President-Elect Bernardo Arévalo, the Vice President-Elect Karin Herrera, as well as several members of the Semilla, VOS and Winaq political parties.

These decisions by the Public Ministry constitute actions of a political nature that distort the electoral process and may affect its outcome and are therefore absolutely inappropriate and unacceptable for a democratic political system.

In this regard, the Public Ministry, as an institution of the State, is in violation of the provisions of Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The General Secretariat condemns this continuous political persecution by the Public Ministry, which today extends against another 28 Guatemalan citizens, and which adds to the usual intimidation and harassment of members of the Semilla Movement Party, human rights activists, academics, journalists, and other social actors. The criminalization and intimidation of political and social actors in a context of political persecution is a serious violation of the rule of law and deviates from the principles of democracy.

The OAS member states, by majority and clearly, expressed their grave concerns regarding the criminalization and judicialization of the electoral process and political persecution by the Public Ministry, approving yesterday the resolution entitled "Recent Developments Impacting the Rule of Law and Democratic Presidential Transition in Guatemala." The ongoing political persecution only serves to erode the foundations of the democracy that the citizens of Guatemala have fought for and wish to continue building every day.

Representatives of the institutions must behave responsibly, refraining from violating the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and the human dignity of citizens.

At the same time, the General Secretariat strongly condemns the acts of intimidation and aggression against a number of congressmen, students, and social and political activists that took place yesterday and today in Guatemala. These actions create an environment of insecurity and uncertainty that is unacceptable to the citizens of Guatemala.

The physical violence suffered by members of Congress from various political parties is completely unacceptable and is not a victory for anyone. The loss of respect for the elements of peace and social stability stemming from the violence undermines the peaceful coexistence among Guatemalans.

The General Secretariat of the OAS remains committed to supporting the transition process in Guatemala that will conclude on January 14, 2024, when the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect, Bernardo Arévalo and Karin Herrera, respectively, take office.

Reference: E-077/23