Poverty and violent crime continue to plague Guatemala 25 years after its last left-wing guerrillas laid down their arms. More than half the population lives on less than $4 per day. Youth are particularly vulnerable to predatory street gangs. After spiking in 2009, crime rates fell due partly to investigations by a UN-sponsored commission, but the government terminated that body’s mandate early in response to a series of corruption probes, imperilling efforts to curb impunity. Thousands of Guatemalans risk being robbed or assaulted on migratory routes. In its research and advocacy, Crisis Group encourages holistic reform and crime-fighting approaches that get at the root causes of insecurity.


CrisisWatch Guatemala

Unchanged Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Judicial attempts to undermine August presidential election result continued to fuel political instability; more moves against President-elect could fuel mass protests and unrest in coming weeks.

Judicial persecution threatened to cause further turmoil. In moves that could spark further unrest, Public Prosecutor’s Office 16 Nov opened investigation into President-elect Arévalo, VP-elect Karin Herrera and four other politicians for allegedly promoting May 2022-June 2023 student protest; judiciary accused them of destruction of cultural property, illicit association and influence peddling, and asked Supreme Court to remove their immunity; fears rose that removal of immunity or arrest of President-elect in December would lead to mass protests. Earlier, Supreme Electoral Court 2 Nov confirmed suspension of Arévalo’s party Movimiento Semilla over alleged anomalies during its creation; original suspension issued in July but only became legal after electoral period ended 31 Oct. Public Prosecutor’s Office 22 Nov levelled same charges against two other politicians. Arévalo and Herrera 16 Nov said charges were “spurious” and an “assault on democracy”. Prosecutor’s office also issued arrest warrants for 27 other individuals for their role in university protest.

Congress appointed Supreme Court judges. Constitutional Court 7 Nov ordered Congress to elect magistrates for Supreme Court of Justice and Court of Appeals before end of Nov, reinvigorating process on pause since 2019. Congress 15 Nov elected thirteen magistrates to Supreme Court of Justice, some of whom have been accused of corruption, triggering protests in capital Guatemala City; 21 Nov appointed Appeal Court magistrates.

International and domestic actors reiterated support for Arévalo. Indigenous leaders and private sector actors 1 Nov signed “Action for Democracy” charter with Arévalo, which reiterated support for election result, and pledged to defend and strengthen democratic institutions. Meanwhile, twenty countries from Organization of American States Permanent Council 15 Nov voted that Prosecutor’s Office sought to undermine democracy, while U.S. and EU continued to threaten sanctions. EU electoral observation mission 13 Nov presented final report which found no fraud in vote and concluded results were legitimate.

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