OAS Adopts Resolution on the Situation in Guatemala

Remarks by
Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
November 15, 2023

Mr. Chair, my delegation would like to express our gratitude to the delegations of Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Uruguay for their dedication and co-sponsorship of the OAS Permanent Council resolution presented for adoption today. This collective effort reaffirms a shared commitment to uphold democratic values and principles in the Americas. 

Mr. Chair, we’d also like to recognize your keen stewardship of this resolution, helping to facilitate consensus on this critical document. 

Colleagues, the situation in Guatemala has now reached a difficult juncture.  In two rounds of voting, the Guatemalan people demonstrated their unwavering determination to protect their democratic rights and ensure the legitimacy of their electoral process.  Our responsibility is to stand by them in this time of need. 

Regrettably, alarming developments in Guatemala have underscored continuing and serious concerns.  The recent provisional suspension of President-elect Arévalo’s political party, Semilla, by Guatemalan authorities, is a highly disturbing indication of ongoing efforts to obstruct the peaceful transition of power.  

It appears these authorities remain determined to prevent President-elect Arévalo and his party from assuming office in January, in direct contradiction to the democratic will of the Guatemalan people. 

Colleagues, should malign authorities succeed in preventing President-elect Arévalo from taking office, I fear we would witness a major crisis not only in Guatemala, but also throughout the region, resulting in large outward migration flows from Guatemala and the risk of widespread violence and civil unrest.  That represents what is at stake here. 

Without a doubt, the Organization of American States has shown its commitment to supporting democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala.  Member states and observer states alike have provided funding and assistance for the work of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) in Guatemala, and we have actively engaged in diplomatic, respectful efforts to encourage a peaceful and orderly transition.  It bears repeating that the EOM found the election to be free and transparent, with zero evidence of major irregularities.  

Over the past five months, we have reiterated our call on Guatemala to uphold its commitments under the Inter-American Democratic Charter and ensure a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.  

We have heard a now-familiar refrain from the Guatemalan government that invokes a spurious “separation of powers” argument to justify inaction against the Public Ministry and its blatantly political attacks on President-elect Arévalo and the TSE.  It is an argument that utterly lacks credibility.  Fundamental principles of democracy and respect for the will of the people must prevail. 

The OAS Secretary General’s special mission and the subsequent mediation and dialogue mission in Guatemala have been essential to this Council’s efforts.  Additionally, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has played a crucial role in monitoring human rights and rule of law developments in the country. 

In light of these developments and our collective commitment to defending representative democracy, Mr. Chair, we thank all those Member States who support the adoption of today’s resolution.   

This resolution takes a measured and balanced approach but maintains a reference to Chapter IV of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, should further steps be necessary in accordance with the Charter’s roadmap for action. 

The text also recalls the principles enshrined in the Democratic Charter, emphasizing the right of the peoples of the Americas to democracy and their governments’ obligation to promote and defend it.  It recognizes the importance of an orderly, transparent, and peaceful transition of power in Guatemala — in accordance with the country’s constitution and the Democratic Charter. 

The resolution also considers our prior declaration adopted by consensus on September 1, Mr. Chair, which called for the OAS to observe and accompany the presidential transition process in Guatemala.  And it welcomes the continued efforts of the OAS’ Missions for Electoral Observation Mission, for peaceful transition, and for mediation and dialogue. 

Bearing in mind these developments and the potential for further anti-democratic actions, my delegation believes it fully appropriate that we respond strongly today regarding the ongoing post-electoral actions, partisan disputes, and actions that are undermining the presidential transition process and representative democracy in Guatemala. 

Simply put: we must remain resolute in our commitment to upholding democratic values in Guatemala and throughout the Americas.  The United States stands with the people of Guatemala and their democratic aspirations, and we urge all member states to join us in doing the same. 

Thank you very much, Chair. 

Read the resolution here.