Supported by popular mobilizations, Bernardo Arévalo is sworn in as President of Guatemala

Published by Brent Patterson on

Video still: Arevalo moments after being sworn-in.

The Associated Press reports: “Bernardo Arévalo was sworn in as Guatemala’s president on Monday [January 15] minutes after midnight despite months of efforts to derail his inauguration, including foot-dragging and rising tensions right up until the transfer of power [that was delayed by more than nine hours].”

“Arévalo arrives in the presidency after winning August’s elections by a comfortable margin [winning with 58 percent of the vote]. But nothing has been straightforward since, with Attorney General Consuelo Porras and the establishment forces observers say she represents throwing one legal challenge after another at Arévalo and his party.”

The article adds: “That Arévalo made it to within a day of his inauguration was largely owed to thousands of Guatemala’s Indigenous people, who took to the streets last year to protest and demand that Porras and her prosecutors respect the Aug. 20 vote.”

Photo: “After #53 days of resistance, the women of the Q’eqchi’ people add their voices ‘Corruption despoils our rivers, out with coup plotters’ they express in the march that heads to #MP [Public Ministry].” November 23, 2023.

“Ni un paso atrás” (not a step back)

Indigenous peoples were on the streets this Sunday as well.

The BBC notes: “The Solemn Session, as the presidential inauguration ceremony is called, was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.”

Agence France Presse reports: “The delay in the inauguration sparked discontent among Arévalo’s supporters, including many indigenous people, who, amid shoving with the police, pushed their way towards the parliament headquarters.”

At 3:20 pm local time, Maya Q’eqchi’ journalist Carlos Ernesto Choc posted this dramatic video of people chanting “ni un paso atrás”.

Around 3:54 pm, Quorum tweeted: “Police repression. The @PNCdeGuatemala [National Civil Police] repressed with tear gas the citizen protest demanding the inauguration of the new Congress and the elected president Bernardo Arévalo.”

El Pais reports: “The international delegations present in Guatemala signed a document in support of the president and democracy that was read by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, at around 5 p.m.”

That statement said: “We call on the Congress of the Republic to comply with its constitutional mandate to hand over power as required by the Constitution today to president-elect Bernardo Arevalo and Karin Herrera.”

Almagro was accompanied by Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, the president of Costa Rica, the vice president of Brazil, and the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Choc then tweeted at 6 pm: “The Izabal resistance is present in Guatemala City, joining the resistance of the indigenous peoples and asking more people to join. They are located on 8th Avenue and 9th Street, Guatemala City, Zone 1.”

By 12:30 am in Guatemala, just after Arevalo was sworn into office, the Embassy of Canada in Guatemala tweeted: “We congratulate the President @BArevalodeLeon! Today’s inauguration demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the people of Guatemala to democracy. …Canada looks forward to working with you to strengthen prosperity, security, human rights, the rule of law and safe and regular migration.”

Photo by Carlos Ernesto Choc. At about 1:16 am, people await President Arevalo.

Ilan Palacios Avineri comments in Time magazine: “To grasp the importance of Bernardo’s inauguration, we must first understand the Ten Years of Spring (1944-1954), a vital but frequently ignored era when his father, Juan José Arévalo Sr., became Guatemala’s first democratically-elected president. …The CIA-orchestrated coup of 1954, led by Castillo Armas [against Arevalo’s successor Jacobo Arbenz], was disguised as a fight against communism but fundamentally aimed to protect U.S. economic interests in the region. The abrupt end of the revolution plunged Guatemala into an extended period of authoritarian rule and civil strife [that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people].”

Now, almost 70 years after the June 18-27, 1954, coup, Arevalo has been sworn in as the President of Guatemala.

We continue to follow this situation.

Peace Brigades International had an accompaniment project in Guatemala from 1983 to 1999. It closed following the Peace Accords that concluded the 1960 to 1996 internal armed conflict. The current project opened in 2003. The groups and individuals currently accompanied by PBI-Guatemala can be found here.


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