Guatemala protests ensue after prosecutor raids electoral authority, seizes ballots

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Guatemala faced political demonstrations and protests Monday after the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the nation’s highest electoral body, was reportedly raided for the fourth time by the nation’s Public Ministry (PM) last week.

According to a press release by the US Department of State, the PM seized election materials as part of a continued effort to “undermine Guatemala’s peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arevalo.” Guatemala’s highest-ranking anti-corruption prosecutor for the PM, Rafael Curruchiche, allegedly directed the raid on the TSE. Curruchiche was sanctioned by the United States in 2022 for obstructing investigations into corruption against government officials and for raising “apparently spurious claims” against former prosecutors and government officials.

The US Embassy in Guatemala reported the nation’s PM made attempts to revoke the legal status of Arevalo’s party, the Semilla party, during primary elections in June. Curruchiche said in late September that the raids at the TSE were not related to Arevalo, or any of the leaders from his party. In one news report, police were described as grabbing boxes of votes from judges. Some judges have asserted that the election results will not change.

Bernardo Arevalo won the Guatemalan presidential election in August with 58 percent of the vote. Arevalo ran as an underdog against Guatemala’s ex-first lady Sandra Torres on an anticorruption platform. Secretary of State Antony Blinken virtually met with President elect Arevalo yesterday to discuss a peaceful transition of power. Blinken pledged to “use all available tools against those who act to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala.”

The US Embassy in Guatemala reported political demonstrations related to the raid on the TSE blocked several roads in the nation.