Bernardo Arévalo's race for president of Guatemala was so complicated that this Sunday, the day on which he, his vice president Karin Herrera and elected deputies are scheduled to be sworn in, was plagued by uncertainty given the last week. Minute obstacles. Hour. The presidential investiture ceremony was scheduled for three o'clock in the afternoon (local time), after the congressional session in which the new deputies were to be sworn in. However, this stalled amid tensions and created uncertainty over whether the presidential duo's inauguration could take place.
After the scheduled time for his swearing-in, Arévalo said in a message on his X account – formerly Twitter – that Vice President Herrera and he were ready to take office. “As the law requires,” he said. “MPs have a responsibility to respect the will of the people expressed during the elections. Attempts are being made to violate democracy through illegalities, petty things and abuse of power. The Guatemalan people and the international community are watching,” he warned. Meanwhile, citizens and international delegations are banding together to support the president at his inauguration and exert pressure to ensure the transfer of power.
Protesters arrived at both Congress and the State Department demanding that the change of command be carried out as citizens voted in the elections. In front of the Attorney General's office building, where the indigenous peoples are holding a sit-in that has already lasted 105 days to ensure the peaceful transfer of power, they offered a press conference in which they gave Congress a one-hour deadline to comply with the swearing in of the new board. “We call on the other areas to prepare for any of our calls,” said a spokesman for the group, also calling on the population to remain calm and “not to engage in provocations with coup plotters and corrupt people.”
The international delegations accompanying Arévalo in Guatemala today include the King of Spain and a dozen Latin American presidents, including Chilean Gabriel Boric, Honduran Xiomara Castro and Colombian Gustavo Petro, who has been particularly critical of attempts to obstruct Arévalo , expressed investiture. “Here in Guatemala, the Congress of the Republic has not yet agreed to elect its executive board, which must take over from President Bernardo Arévalo,” Petro wrote shortly after arriving in the Central American country. The day before, he had invited his colleagues to the inauguration. “There are forces threatening a coup. Our solidarity is fundamental,” he said. Petro later reported that Costa Rica had called an urgent meeting of foreign ministers in Guatemala City because of the obstacles to investiture.
At around 5 p.m., the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, read a joint declaration signed by the international delegations present in Guatemala in support of the President and democracy. “We call on the Congress of the Republic to fulfill its constitutional mandate and hand over power today, as required by the Constitution, to the elected Presidents Bernardo Arévalo and Karin Herrera,” said the statement, which he made accompanied by the Spanish Foreign Minister read out. José Manuel Albares, the President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves, or the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.
“In view of the attempts by members of Congress to obstruct the inauguration of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo,” Borrell later said in a statement, “I will propose to EU member states the application of individual restrictive measures against members of Congress who are carrying out the transfer prevent the use of powers. “The will of the people expressed in the elections must be respected.”
At around 7 p.m., when the congressional session resumed, the Chilean president, after meeting with Arévalo, released a message on his “I will assume all duties as president of Guatemala on this day,” said Boric, who stated that he would be in Country should return as he had already planned activities for Monday. “I leave with the certainty that Guatemala and Bernardo Arévalo know that they have an ally in Chile and in our government for the democratic construction of a more just society,” he added.
Shortly afterwards, after 7:30 p.m., Arévalo reported that he was heading to the Miguel Ángel Asturias Cultural Center, where he had to be sworn in. “And then… see you on the pitch,” he reported. The inauguration of Arévalo and Herrera was scheduled for 3 p.m. and then the president was scheduled to give a speech to Guatemalans in the Plaza de la Constitución, the place where the Semilla movement was born in the heat of anti-corruption protests 2015. .
The president-elect's message coincided with the publication of a decision by the Constitutional Court that called on Congress to report “within a period not exceeding one hour” on the assumption of office of the deputies “and on the follow-up measures ordered by the Constitutional Court” Constitution and law, to ensure the effective implementation of the transition imposed by the democratic regime.” However, at around 9 p.m., the deputies were still in the parliament building, engulfed in a brawl ahead of the election of the executive committee of the tenth legislative term.
After his surprise victory in August elections on his promise to fight the corruption that has corroded Guatemala, Arévalo – a 65-year-old sociologist, former congressman and diplomat – faced a series of lawsuits that he himself denounced as an attempt “Coup d’etat” sponsored by the State Ministry to prevent his seizure of power and disqualify his party. And although a Constitutional Court ruling issued in mid-December offered guarantees for his inauguration this Sunday, no one in this country ruled out last-minute surprises to prevent the swearing-in. “We don’t know if they can come up with something absurd legally,” Arévalo told EL PAÍS this Saturday. “So we will wait and see, but with the confidence that in the end it will not change the result or the fact that we get possession of the ball.”
Planes fly over the Plaza de la Constitución before the investiture ceremony in Guatemala City. Welcome Velasco (EFE)
The day began with a delay in the congressional session in which the board was to be appointed, while the Constitutional Court (CC) decided several appeals, including one from the ruling Semilla movement, which will be the third strongest force in the chamber to determine whether could be among the candidates for the presidency of the chamber after the party's temporary exclusion. The interim protection has been rejected so that elected representatives will have to act as independents and will not be able to be part of the chair of this body or form commissions.
The session of Congress also had moments of tension during the session to consider the credentials of deputies, a stalled administrative process that has led to a delay in the appointment of the board and fears that it could hamper the process of transfer of power . After 4 p.m. the congressional session resumed.
King Felipe VI of Spain with Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro on January 13 in Guatemala City. Welcome Velasco (EFE)