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Guatemala’s fight for democracy requires international support

News 15.09.2023

While the recent presidential elections suggest a brighter future for Guatemala, the country’s quest for justice and democracy is far from over, Right Livelihood said in a statement at the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

You can read the entire statement here.

Twenty-seven years ago, Guatemala began its path to democracy—a journey that should have ushered in a progressive strengthening of the rule of law and vital institutions. The reality for Guatemalans today is far from this vision.

In fact, Right Livelihood told the Council, the administration led by President Alejandro Giammattei has done the opposite, directing its focus towards dismantling institutions and criminalising those investigating cases of corruption.

The consequences are dire. Independent justice operators, human rights defenders, journalists, and indigenous communities find themselves either imprisoned or forced to flee the country to escape arrest. Meanwhile, corruption thrives unchecked, with impunity remaining the norm.

A stark example of this emerged last month when, despite substantial evidence, the high court of Guatemala sentenced only one individual while acquitting eight others implicated in the horrific Rancho Bejuco massacre, where 25 indigenous people were killed.

While Bernardo Arévalo’s recent victory in the presidential elections suggests a brighter future, there are still many obstacles to overcome to ensure a smooth transition of power. It is during this time, we told the Council, that international pressure is most important.

In the statement, Right Livelihood specifically called upon the outgoing administration to honour the election results and respect the will of the Guatemalan people, emphasising that democracy is a prerequisite for the realisation of justice.

As Guatemala stands at a crossroads between its tumultuous past and the prospect of a just, corruption-free future, international support and vigilance remain vital in ensuring that democracy ultimately triumphs in this Central American nation.

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