People at a market in Guatemala Christopher Crouzet from WikiMedia Commons

Activists blocked off multiple roads, borders and ports in Guatemala on Oct. 2, 2023, following a series of Supreme Electoral Tribunal headquarters raids in efforts to find evidence of voter fraud.

The most recent raid on Sept. 29, 2023, is the fifth raid of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Guatemala's highest authority in electoral matters, following the win of President-elect Bernardo Arevalo. Indigenous activists associated with the 48 Cantons of Totonicapan and other indigenous groups blocked off various roads, borders and ports in Guatemala, and they will continue to do so until further notice, according to Crisis24.

Crisis24 also reported that the protests would severely disrupt road transport services, border crossings and ports nationwide. They also said the protests are planned to be peaceful, but clashes between activists and security forces cannot be ruled out, especially if attempt to remove blockades or disperse activists.

The activists demand the resignation of the country's Attorney General and Chief of the Public Ministry Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta, Head of the Special Prosecutor's Office against Impunity Rafael Curruchiche, and other judicial and legal officials. The activists claim these government officials violated the Guatemalan democracy following the Sept. 29, 2023 raid on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal office.

In addition to the concern of these indigenous activists, the United States Department of State released a statement on Oct. 1, 2023, stating their concern regarding "Anti-Democratic Action in Guatemala."

"The United States is gravely concerned with continued efforts to undermine Guatemala's peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arévalo. Most recently, the Guatemalan Public Ministry seized electoral materials under the custody of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE)," said Matthew Miller in the U.S. State Department press release. "This act followed earlier attempts to strip immunity of the TSE electoral officials along with raiding their offices and storage facilities that house elections results. Such anti-democratic behavior undermines Guatemala's democratic institutions and is inconsistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter."

Claims of voter fraud echoed throughout Guatemala following the win of President-elect Arevalo. Specifically, claims began soon after election results saw Arevalo as President-elect. The party of former First Lady Sandra Torres said voter fraud resulted in Arevalo's win.

Despite the claims, the U.S. and other organizations have said this is untrue. In their statement, the U.S. State Department said they support the Organization of American States, which assists with the transition of power in Guatemala through their Electoral Observation Mission–EOM–of the Organization of American States–OAS.

According to an OAS press release, the fifth raid of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal Office headquarters carried out by the Public Prosecutors Office was done without due cause, violating the electoral body's functions, independence and autonomy. Their press release also said the OAS/EOM has yet to find evidence that the electoral results from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal office are incorrect.

"The EOM has exhaustively analyzed the complaints about the electoral process and confirms once again that there are no elements that cast doubt on the electoral results presented by the TSE," said the press release from the OAS.

Furthermore, the U.S. solidified its fervent opposition to the raids by stating current and former members of Congress, judicial actors, and any others trying to undermine Guatemala's democracy would not be allowed entry into the U.S. under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which restricts visas for individuals believed to be responsible for, complicit in, or undermining democracy.

© 2023 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.