Hundreds of Guatemalans gathered in the capital on Sunday to demand the resignation of the attorney general and several prosecutors over their alleged attempts to disrupt the upcoming presidential runoff election. Many demonstrators held signs calling for an end to a right-wing campaign seen by many as challenging the legitimacy of the August 20 runoff.
Protesters called for the dismissal of Attorney General Consuelo Porras, whose office is trying to disqualify the Semilla (Seed) Party of Bernardo Arevalo, a social democrat who unexpectedly secured a spot in the runoff, stunning many in the country. “There have been various questionable legal actions meant to invalidate the June 25 (first round) vote,” said Mayan activist Alida Vicente. “Out with the corrupt! We’ve had enough!” chanters yelled, some beating drums.
Last year the US State Department designated Porras as corrupt and undemocratic, saying she was undermining anti-corruption probes. Marchers also sought the ouster of Judge Fredy Orellana and prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche.
On Curruchiche’s orders, Orellana instructed the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to bar the Semilla Party, alleging irregularities in its founding in 2017. The Tribunal did not comply. In response, judicial agents twice raided the TSE and tried to detain an official there, and on Friday they searched Semilla headquarters in the capital.
Arevalo is set to face Sandra Torres, a former first lady who is also center-left, in next month’s runoff. Whoever prevails will end 12 years of right-wing rule in the Central American nation. The turbulent legal maneuvers in recent weeks are widely seen in Guatemala and abroad as an attempt to stop Arevalo’s candidacy.
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “great concern” over the elections and urged Guatemalan authorities to protect citizens “from any unlawful or arbitrary interference with the voting process.” Organizers called for protesters to erect roadblocks on Monday and businesses to close as part of a national strike against interference in the election.