“Guatemalan democracy is under assault.”

Emergency statement on the sudden suspension of election results in Guatemala.
A campaign of legal warfare threatens to extinguish democracy in Guatemala.
A campaign of legal warfare threatens to extinguish democracy in Guatemala.

On 25 June 2023, Guatemalans held a peaceful election in the presence of international observers from across the world.

The result of the election stunned the political establishment: the traditional parties of the Guatemalan right failed to enter the second round run-off election.

One week later — on Saturday, 1 July, 2023 — these parties presented a desperate appeal to Guatemala’s highest Constitutional Court to halt the certification of the first round, suspend release of official results, and initiate a recount due to unspecified “anomalies” in the results.

The alleged "anomalies" could have been denounced in a timely and lawful manner immediately following the vote count on 25 June. But they were not.

No evidence of these “anomalies” was presented to the Guatemalan public or the international observers gathered in the capital.

On Sunday, 2 July, the Constitutional Court ordered the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to suspend the release of official presidential election results.

According to the Court decision, the TSE will initiate a new 15-day period to recount, challenge, or annul votes.

The measure not only derails the electoral process. It also subverts the democratic will of the Guatemalan people, suspending election certification for mayors, councillors, deputies, and parliamentarians across the country.

Over the past two decades, similar tactics of legal warfare have been deployed across Latin America to exclude candidates, undermine elections, or evict popular leaders from power.

Only a powerful mix of popular mobilization and international support can protect the integrity of the democratic process — to guarantee that elections proceed to a second round on 20 August — and ensure that these elections do not open another dark chapter in Guatemala’s modern history.

We condemn the sustained attacks on Guatemalan democracy. We stand with the the people of Guatemalan in their pursuit of popular sovereignty. And we call on friends and allies from across the world to join us.

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