The United States banned dozens of senior Guatemalan officials from entering its territory, accusing them of undermining democracy and complicating the transfer of power to President-elect Bernardo Arevalo.
Arevalo, who won Guatemala’s most recent presidential election in August, is currently under the protection of an international human rights group after intelligence reports surfaced regarding a possible assassination attempt against him, similar to the assassination of former Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio in 1994.
The U.S. is committed to promoting accountability for corrupt public actors in Guatemala. Today's designations demonstrate our commitment to ensure consequences for corrupt acts. https://t.co/Sz8zR8XPze
— Matthew Miller (@StateDeptSpox) October 31, 2023
An attempt on Arevalo’s life, whether successful or not, would add another black mark to the recent history of political violence and corruption in Latin America. This same year, one of Ecuador’s presidential candidates was killed on the campaign trail.
The US State Department did not disclose the names of the sanctioned officials, but it is believed that the list includes members of the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office.
These officials are accused of using their positions to harass and intimidate opposition politicians and civil society activists. They are also accused of manipulating the judicial system to target Arevalo and his supporters.
The US sanctions are a significant escalation of pressure on the Guatemalan government. They come at a time when the country is facing a deep political crisis, with Arevalo and his supporters accusing the outgoing government of trying to sabotage the transition of power.