Guatemala’s New President Bernardo Arevalo Takes Oath Despite Opposition’s Last-Minute Attempts

Guatemala’s new president, Bernardo Arevalo, took the oath of office in the early hours of Monday after a tumultuous inauguration marked by congressional opposition attempting to undermine his authority. 

Arevalo, an anti-corruption advocate, secured a decisive victory in August’s elections, pledging sweeping reforms to address issues like the rising cost of living and violence, major factors contributing to migration to the United States.

Facing continuous opposition from the party of the outgoing president Alejandro Giammattei, Arevalo has encountered legislative setbacks and attempts to hinder his transition. Giammattei, whose administration was marred by corruption scandals, was not present at the inauguration ceremony.

Addressing the nation, Arevalo vowed to transform Guatemala’s political landscape through unity and trust, promising to fight corruption. 

“We will not allow our institutions to be bent by corruption and impunity,” he said to the hundreds of supporters who stayed in the capital’s Plaza de la Constitucion to celebrate the historic moment. “We are facing new authoritarian phenomena such as the corrupt co-optation of state institutions by criminal groups that exploit their democratic appearance to betray the principles of freedom, equity, justice.”

The inauguration faced disruptions as the Supreme Court permitted opposition lawmakers to maintain control of Congress, forcing members of Arevalo’s Semilla party to stand as independents, further diminishing its presence in the 160-seat chamber. Tensions escalated in Congress, with supporters of Arevalo threatening to storm the building, while police in riot gear took positions.

Despite the challenges, Samuel Perez Alvarez, a prominent Semilla lawmaker, unexpectedly became the Congress president. 

The new administration faces the task of balancing domestic issues with US pressure to address migration while navigating a complex political landscape. Giammattei was known to use more heavy-handed tactics and deployed the police and military to stop migrants.

Arevalo, meanwhile, committed to treating migrants crossing Guatemala’s territory with “dignity, respect, compassion, in the same way we will demand that Guatemalan migrants are treated abroad.”

The border connection

X user @TuffTiffResists noted that prior to the Congress’s thwarted refusal to transfer power, Trump administration diplomat Richard Grenell was on a visit to outgoing president Giammattei. The timing, and Grenell’s posts following the visit, seem peculiar, the X user notes.

“When you pair his words here with what Abbott is doing in Texas, it seems pretty clear to me that the right is using the border to foment a civil war,” she wrote, referring to Grenell’s post saying that “it has become crystal clear that one of the reasons illegal immigration and drugs are pouring into the United States is because our U.S. Embassies in Central America are doing politics – not economic development and security.”

Grenell was Acting Director of National Intelligence in former President Trump’s cabinet in 2020 and currently has no official capacity to represent the interests of the US.

Information for this story was found via Reuters, The New York Times, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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