Guatemala’s President-Elect Suspends Transition Process Amid ‘Abuse of Authority’

The president-elect said Tuesday he would withdraw temporarily from the transition process after prosecutors raided electoral offices and opened ballot boxes

Bernardo Arevalo, Guatemala's president-elect, right, and his running mate Karin Herrera, vice president-elect, during a press conference following runoff elections in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.
By Matthew Bristow
September 13, 2023 | 01:30 PM

Bloomberg — Guatemala’s President-elect Bernardo Arévalo said he would withdraw temporarily from the transition process after prosecutors raided electoral offices and opened boxes of votes.

Chile Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Coup d’Etat Amid Political Tensions

The actions by the Attorney General’s office constitute “a flagrant abuse of authority”, Arévalo said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Organization of American States denounced prosecutors’ actions as illegal, while the US government said they undermine the democratic transition of power.

Rafael Curruchiche, the prosecutor who led the raid, said the actions formed part of an investigation into irregularities that may have taken place during the first round of voting in June.


The dispute adds uncertainty to a process that has been marred by acrimonious legal battles and accusations of foul play. Arévalo is due to take office in January after winning the Aug. 20 runoff, having stayed in the race amid repeated attempts to overturn the result.

The nation’s dollar bonds due 2036 fell 0.1 cent at 10:20 a.m. in New York to 98.5 cents on the dollar sending the yield up to 6.82%. Prosecutors’ actions are “tiresome” rather than a significant threat to the nation’s institutions, which is why the market reaction has been muted, said Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America Fixed Income Strategy at Santander.

“A few bad actors aren’t going to alter the outcome,” Morden said, in a written reply to questions. “That’s why bonds aren’t reacting.”


He has pledged to weed out corruption and increase oversight of government spending, which he says earned him the enmity of officials who fear being investigated.

“The opening of electoral packages by people and institutions other than those designated by law represents a frontal attack on the integrity of the vote and an affront to the popular will,” the Organization of American States said in its statement.

Brian Nichols, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said in a post on X that the prosecutors’ actions undermine the will of the Guatemalan people.

Last month, Arévalo’s Semilla party was suspended pending an investigation by prosecutors into whether rules were breached during its formation in 2018.


--With assistance from Maria Elena Vizcaino.


Selling Ecopetrol an Option for Colombia to Avoid Downgrade from EM, BTG Says