Visiting Washington on Tuesday, President-elect Bernardo Arevalo of Guatemala said he is confronting a concerted effort to keep him from taking power after his upset election win.
Arevalo, a social democrat, was in town to give a speech at a think tank and was received at the White House by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who expressed US support for the political outsider elected on a platform to root out endemic corruption in the Central American country also beset with poverty and gang violence.
Arevalo, 64, has faced obstacles ever since he survived the first-round vote in June as prosecutors moved against his party, called Semilla, alleging irregularities in its founding and trying to suspend it.
Prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche on Friday and Saturday sent security forces to seize boxes of voting records from the election. Arevalo’s vow to clamp down on graft is widely seen in Guatemala as having alarmed a corrupt elite.
Arevalo won a runoff vote in August and is only due to take office in January, and the international community has raised the alarm over efforts to challenge the election outcome.
“I knew it would not be easy given the political conditions in Guatemala, and I expected resistance from some powerful actors, but it was not clear what type of actions to expect,” Arevalo said Tuesday at the Wilson Center, speaking English.
“What I see now is what looks like a coup in slow motion.”
He said he and his party are “victims of an ongoing campaign of judicial prosecution.”
Allies of the president-elect took to the streets Monday to demand the resignation of Curruchiche, Attorney General Consuelo Porras, and Judge Fredy Orellana — who have backed several raids against electoral authorities.
All three officials have been officially deemed as corrupt and undemocratic by the US justice department.
Arevalo has asked the Supreme Court to remove them from their roles, accusing them of plotting a “coup d’etat” to prevent him from taking office.
©️ Agence France-Presse