The Electoral Court of Guatemala has denied the registration to participate in the presidential elections scheduled for next June to two voices critical of the government of President Alejandro Giammattei.
They are the indigenous leader Thelma Cabrera and the former Human Rights Ombudsman Jordán Rodas, who presented their candidacies for the presidency and vice presidency for the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples, a left-wing, anti-system political organization that advocates for the recognition of indigenous rights and a renewal of the Guatemalan state.
The electoral authorities have alleged that Rodas has pending investigations by the Comptroller's Office during his administration as attorney,
although the candidate affirms that he has all the requirements established by the Guatemalan electoral law and has denounced the possibility of "fraud" in the elections.
"The organized mafias intend to leave out one of the decent candidacies in the elections," said Rodas.
“It is unheard of that the TSE rejects our registration.
Democracy in Guatemala has taken another step back, they are afraid of the people and their sovereign decisions”, he stated.
The decision has generated a stir in Guatemala, a country that begins the electoral process with the registration of candidacies, but plunged into a deep political crisis: the Central American nation, which was the protagonist of a democratic spring, has seen how judges and prosecutors who fought against corruption go into exile, impunity prevails, while President Giammattei launches a hunt against voices critical of his government, as has happened with the imprisonment of journalist José Rubén Zamora.
The ruling of the Electoral Tribunal, made public over the weekend, has raised alerts among international human rights organizations.
“All candidates must have the possibility to register and participate in the elections under equal conditions.
These decisions affect the political rights of voters and candidates,
that are protected by international law,” wrote Juan Pappier, deputy director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch.
“Restrictions on political rights must respect international standards and be based on objective and reasonable criteria.
The mere presentation of a criminal complaint, about facts that have not yet been investigated, is not a sufficient reason to exclude a candidacy”, the activist warned.
Jordán Rodas during an interview with this newspaper in August 2022. Sandra Sebastián
The Electoral Tribunal affirmed in its resolution against the candidacies of the MPL that Rodas, although he presented the so-called Transitory Certificate of Non-existence of Claim for Changes, a settlement that the law requires of all officials who aspire to an elected position.
Rodas affirms that he has presented the document, but according to the authorities there are pending "repairs" or investigations by the Guatemalan Comptroller's Office during his administration as attorney.
The MPL filed an appeal against the ruling, at the same time that it has called on its bases to mobilize.
This Monday there was a demonstration against the decision at the headquarters of the Electoral Tribunal in the Guatemalan capital.
"Thelma and Jordán will remain registered," the protesters shouted.
Cabrera and Rodas announced in December the decision to participate in the presidential elections.
The Mayan indigenous leader is a prominent defender of human rights and already aspired to the presidency in the last elections, when she surprised by obtaining fourth place in the first round, with more than 450,000 votes, although it was not enough to go to the second round.
This was disputed by Alejandro Giammattei and Sandra Torres, who lost the election.
Rodas, for his part, has achieved international recognition for his fight against impunity during the government of former President Jimmy Morales and the current Giammattei Administration.
In an interview with EL PAÍS last August, conducted in Guatemala City days before he left office, Rodas harshly criticized the Guatemalan business class, which he accuses of financing the persecution of judges and prosecutors who have fought against the corruption and impunity in that country.
He was also hard on President Giammattei.
“Sometimes I get the impression that we are masochists and that Guatemala is like an underground parking lot, because I honestly thought that with Jimmy Morales we had hit rock bottom, but Giammattei is just as corrupt and disrespectful to the most vulnerable sectors, such as for the indigenous peoples,” he said on that occasion.
Rodas also described the government of the president as "very bad": "So much time to prepare to be president.
He did not form teams,
He did not make public policies to favor those most in need.
He said a slightly vulgar phrase, that he did not want to be remembered as just another son of a bitch, but I think that in the long run a lot of the population will think precisely that."
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