The Permanent Council addresses the destabilizing situation in Guatemala

OAS Permanent Council.

Comments by
Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
December 4, 2023

Following last week’s presentation by the Chair, IACHR, my delegation said any attempt to remove immunity from high-level officials directly involved in free and fair elections in Guatemala would open Pandora’s box. Mr. President, the Government of Guatemala has now opened that box, and we are entering a new and very dangerous phase in the electoral transition process.

Authorities in Guatemala continue to exacerbate this crisis by taking actions of their own volition, often against the will of the Guatemalan people and in defiance of the organization’s declarations and resolutions. It has decided to raise stakes for the entire region. The utter contempt for the will of the Guatemalan people is clearly demonstrated.

We’ve seen this movie before: history is littered with examples of countries charting a similar path, and the road ahead is treacherous. If we – we, the Permanent Council, this organization – fail to stand up and raise our voice for democracy in Guatemala now, the impact will extend far beyond Guatemala. I have often said in the sessions we have had on this difficult issue that this is a test, a test of this system. It represents a moment of preservation of democracy. If we don’t do this together, we will fail together.

Contrary to the authorities in Guatemala, the Organization of American States, which is a member of Guatemala, has consistently demonstrated its commitment to peaceful electoral transition, democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala.

In fact, fellow, refers to today Ninth time Since June the Permanent Council has discussed the troubling, and escalating, situation in Guatemala.

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Two weeks ago we passed a resolution and on November 29 we heard from the IACHR a disturbing report on the poor state of democracy and human rights in Guatemala. A day later, Guatemalan Congressman Mr. Chairman, practically as we sat here debating the resolution, the Guatemalan Congress, under very suspicious circumstances, removed the security of four Supreme Electoral Tribunal judges, who fled the country.

In our resolution dated November 15, we called All Branches of the Guatemalan government must stop its intimidation against election officials and the Semilla Movement party.

We, as an organization, specifically called on the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Affairs to stop blocking the peaceful transition. Regrettably, our repeated pleas under the Inter-American Charter of Democracy have not been partially ignored, but completely ignored.

Colleagues, Chapter IV of the Inter-American Democratic Charter explains the process to be followed when the democratic order is threatened in one of our fellow member states.

Mr. President, in light of the increasing attack on democracy during the transition process in Guatemala, the United States is proposing a new, more radical draft resolution and addressing a wide range of delegations. With your consent, Mr. Chairman, we will circulate that text to all member states for consideration and negotiation in the days following this meeting. We look forward to discussing this text with all of you at this time.

Let us remember that this organization is a partner of trust for the people of Guatemala. As responsible stewards of the democratic charter, we must press to ensure that their will, the will of the Guatemalan people, is carried out.

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Thank you, sir.

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