On January 14, 2020, the current President of the Republic of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei Falla, was sworn in, nominated by the "Vamos" political party and the new deputies to the Congress of the Republic, nominated by various political parties.
Although the party that nominated the President of the Republic has a meagre representation in parliament, with 17 deputies out of 160, it managed to create a de facto ruling party of 106 deputies — quickly and by means of non-public agreements — by subordinating the legislative power to the executive despite the explicit prohibition of the subordination of powers established in Article 141 of the Guatemalan Constitution.
Control over parliament has allowed the President to obstruct the process of electing judges to the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chambers of the Court of Appeals, which should have been carried out months ago and which has been delayed by the refusal of the 106 deputies he controls to abide by the rulings of the Constitutional Court, which ordered them to respect the principles of election established in the Constitution, including refraining from electing as judges candidates who are suspected to have conflicts of interest, such as links to parallel institutions or organized crime.
The President’s struggle to extend his control over the justice system has led the deputies he controls to publicly declare that they will not abide by the rulings of the Constitutional Court, statements that were also issued by the Supreme Court of Justice that are currently usurping the judiciary by staying in office despite having exceeded the constitutional term for which they were elected.
On August 7, 2020, the Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor's Office joined the President’s agenda to hijack judicial power and initiate a pre-trial against six judges of the Constitutional Court, the country's highest constitutional court.
The pre-trial proceedings against the judges of the Constitutional Court are to be heard by the deputies aligned with the President. Therefore, it is expected that in the coming weeks their immunity will be withdrawn and they will be arrested in order to clear the way for the President to appoint the members of the judiciary without any constitutional control.
The actions taken by Alejandro Giammattei to consolidate his dictatorship have been supported by the most powerful corporate interests within the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (CACIF) whose interests are represented exclusively by President Giammattei.
The time that Alejando Giammattei has been in government, barely 6 months, has meant a constant restriction of democratic guarantees for the Guatemalan people, the imposition of business interests at the expense of the people’s most basic needs, the elimination of democratic controls, and constant economic and social steps backward by the implementation of the CACIF business agenda as a priority of the State, thus condemning the people to more misery, inequality and social marginalization.
In this sense, the Guatemalan Trade Union, Indigenous and Peasant Movement (MSICG), a member of the Progressive International, warns of the breakdown of constitutional order in Guatemala and the advance of an aggressive process to consolidate a dictatorship. Therefore, the MSCIG urges the progressive forces of the world to condemn the loss of democratic guarantees in Guatemala, to be vigilant to the development of events, and to demand the restoration of the separation of powers and political checks and balances, the enforcement of constitutional and human rights safeguards and the cessation of measures to repress the economic and social rights of the Guatemalan people.
Guatemala, 10 August 2020
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