OAS Addresses the Situation on Guatemala

Remarks by
Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
September 18, 2023

The United States welcomes the convening of this Special Meeting of the Permanent Council. We express our appreciation to the Secretary General for his timely report on the OAS good offices transition mission to Guatemala, as called for by this Council on September 1.

Today’s session holds significant importance as the Guatemalan people persist in their fight for democracy, Madam Chair. The United States remains deeply concerned about the unprecedented actions of those seeking to undermine democracy in Guatemala by discrediting and obstructing a smooth transition of power.]

Such anti-democratic behavior, including ongoing efforts by the Public Ministry and other corrupt individuals to suspend the president-elect’s political party, all subverts the clear will of the Guatemalan people, and is in direct contradiction to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The United States reiterates our call on the Government of Guatemala to uphold its commitments under the Democratic Charter and to diligently work toward an orderly and peaceful transition of power in January of next year. This reflects the fact that upholding democratic principles is non-negotiable – on the part of all OAS member states.

More specifically, Chair and colleagues, the United States urges the Public Ministry to cease its intimidation efforts targeting election officials and the Semilla party. We all saw the images of the rRecent raids on electoral storage facilities, in which sealed ballots were opened, and ballots taken out and manipulated. This is which include the unprecedented act of opening sealed ballot boxes, are particularly troubling.

In a healthy democracy, institutions don’t tamper with ballot boxes after election results have been officially certified by the appropriate authority. Such interference and lawfare, as colleagues have indicated, strikes at the very heart of the democratic process and represents an assault on the rule of law.

On this point, Madam Chair, we share the serious concerns voiced by the OAS Electoral Observation Mission on September 12 that highlighted the lack of expediency and proportionality in the actions of the Public Ministry — pointing to the political intent of criminal prosecution.

In considering how to engage on next steps, the United States remains committed to supporting the efforts of the OAS in Guatemala as called for by the Permanent Council so as to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to the incoming Arévalo administration.

This body should remain seized by developments in Guatemala.

This encompasses the vital work carried out by the OAS electoral observation mission in Guatemala as well as the ongoing efforts of Secretary General Almagro’s special transition mission.

We also encourage the incoming Guatemalan congress to introduce reforms that provide more clarity to the electoral process and bolster the credibility of future elections, including the establishment of clear, objective criteria for candidate inclusion.

Madam Chair and colleagues, the United States continues to monitor the situation in Guatemala as a reflection of our shared commitment to democratic governance.

We also continue to engage with all member states to advance a democratic and peaceful presidential transition, including appropriate resolutions and actions on the part of this Council. This is fully consistent with our goal of supporting Guatemalan democracy and promoting accountability for those corrupt actors who seek to subvert it.

Let me close by underscoring that the United States and Guatemala share deep and profound ties among our peoples — including a strong commitment to democracy, security, economic prosperity, and human rights. Cooperation between our nations has improved the lives of our citizens and those throughout the Americas.

In this spirit, we continue to support the democratic will of the people of Guatemala and collaborate with all regional and international partners to promote the fulfillment of our collective commitments to uphold democracy.

Thank you very much.