The Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity of Guatemala announced that a court suspended the legal personality of the Seed Movementthe party originated in the fight against corruption that supports the candidacy of Bernardo Arevalo for president. The announcement occurred just before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal made official the results of the first electoral round, confirming that Sandra Torres for the National Unity of Hope (UNE) party and Arévalo for the Seed Movement would contest the presidency on August 20.
The announcement given by Rafael Curruchiche, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), was made through a video posted on the Twitter account of the Public Ministry reporting the decision taken by the Seventh Court of Criminal Instance to order the suspension of the legal personality of the Seed Movement, at the request of the FECI. The decision would have to be executed by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal that, for the moment, has not been notified of the matter.
According to Curruchiche, in May 2022 “a citizen reported having illegally joined the Seed Movement.” The prosecutor, who is sanctioned by the United States for corruption, assured that the person’s signature and handwriting had been forged. “There are indications that more than 5,000 citizens were illegally adhered to the Seed Movement,” added the official.
However, the resolution announced by the prosecutor is contrary to what is established by the Electoral and Political Parties Law of Guatemala, which indicates that “a party may not be suspended after an election has been called and until it has been held.”
Suspending the legal status of a political party implies that the organization could not exercise acts of law and obligations that are empowered by law, nor participate in electoral processes. That is why the norm leaves this possibility suspended during elections.
It is about, said Arévalo in Guatevisión, “a technical coup” and “a desperate action by a criminal political group that realizes that its days are numbered in terms of its control over political power.”
Claudia Peace and Peaceformer attorney general, recalled on his Twitter account that the Electoral Law is clear in saying that a political party cannot be suspended after the call for elections and added that this is a “law of constitutional rank.”
john pappieracting deputy director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, stated that “any attempt to criminalize political parties in Guatemala at this time would be perceived by the international community as an attack on democracy and an attempt to establish a dictatorship that may end up isolated from the world like Nicaragua.
In an interview with CNN, Arévalo assured that in March the party filed a complaint with the MP in which it had pointed out the alleged culprit of this forgery of a signature, but they never received a response from the Prosecutor’s Office. In the Curruchiche video, the official said that Arévalo had reported Jaime Gabriel Gudiel Arias to the Prosecutor’s Office, although he did not provide further details. He maintained that the signatures that accompanied the demand of the now presidential candidate were paid, so he could be investigated for money laundering.
The progressive Bernardo Arévalo has had the fight against corruption as a discourse for several years when he founded the Seed Movement. In the polls for the first round, he appeared eighth in the preferences, but he managed to come in second, going on to dispute the ballot with former first lady Sandra Torres.