Permanent Council Addresses the Transition Situation in Guatemala

The OAS Permanent Council.

Remarks by
Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
December 4, 2023

Chair, following last week’s presentation by the IACHR, my delegation stated that any attempt to strip immunity from high level officials directly involved in the free and fair elections in Guatemala would open Pandora’s box. Chair, the Government of Guatemala has now opened that box, and we enter a new and much more dangerous phase in the electoral transition process.

Authorities in Guatemala continue to escalate this crisis by taking actions of their own choice, often in defiance of the will of the Guatemalan people as well as in defiance of this body’s declarations and resolutions. It has decided to raise the stakes for the entire region.  Utter contempt for the will of the Guatemalan people has clearly been demonstrated.

We have seen this movie before: history is replete with examples of countries charting a similar course, and the path forward is treacherous. If we – we, the Permanent Council, this body – fail to stand up and raise our voices for democracy in Guatemala now, the impact will extend beyond just Guatemala.  I have said often on the sessions we have had on this tough issue that this is a test, a test for this organization.   This represents a moment to defend democracy Mr. Chair.  If we don’t do this together, we will fail together.

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

In fact, colleagues, today marks the ninth time since June that this Permanent Council has discussed the troubling, escalating, situation in Guatemala.

Just two weeks ago we passed a resolution, and on November 29 we all heard a disturbing report on the dismal state of democracy and human rights in Guatemala from the IACHR. A day later, Mr. Chair, the Guatemalan Congress, practically as we sat here discussing the resolution, the Guatemalan Congress, under highly dubious circumstances, stripped the immunity of four Supreme Electoral Tribunal magistrates, who have since fled the country Mr. Chair.

In our resolution of November 15, we called on all branches of the Guatemalan government to cease its acts of intimidation against electoral officials and the Semilla Movement party.

We, as a body, specifically called out the Guatemalan Public Ministry to stop its prevention of a peaceful transition. Regrettably, our repeated entreaties under the Inter American Democratic Charter have been, not partially ignored, but completely ignored.

Colleagues, Chapter Four of the Inter American Democratic Charter lays out the process to follow when the democratic order stands threatened in one of our fellow member states.

Chair, the United States is in conversation with a broad number of delegations proposing a new, more serious draft resolution given the escalating attack on democracy during the transition process in Guatemala. With your concurrence, Mr. Chair, we will circulate that text following this meeting to all member states for consideration and negotiation over the coming days.  We look forward to discussing this text with all of you during this time.

Let’s remember this Organization remains a partner of hope for the Guatemalan people. As responsible stewards of the Democratic Charter, we must press on to ensure their will, the will of the Guatemalan people, is carried out.

Thank you, Chair.