April 18, 2024

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Activists left the elections and drug politicians entered!

Activists left the elections and drug politicians entered!

On the left, Indigenous activist Thelma Cabrera and on the right, former Attorney General for Human Rights Jordan Rodas. Everything seems to be rigged until the daughter of dictator Suri Rios (R) takes power

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Guatemala – The blatant manipulation of the pre-election landscape: Excluding a very powerful group – native Thelma Cabrera and former Attorney General Jordan Rodas – from elections, when wanted people, drug traffickers and ancestors of the tyrants’ killers take part, can only be seen as a reprehensible attempt at revenge. Usually in this process…

The start of Guatemala’s presidential election campaign in June was marred by protests to prevent citizens from voting for the most radical groups. Indigenous activist Thelma Cabrera and former human rights attorney general Jordan Rodas, who are running for president and vice president in the country with the Peoples’ Liberation Movement (MLP), have decried the ongoing scam. At the same time, drug dealers, corrupt politicians whose extradition to the United States was requested and (despite the constitutional ban) the daughter of ex-dictator and convicted of genocide Ríos Montt were admitted to participate in the elections without any reservations. .

The Supreme Court of Elections (TSE) disqualified the specific nominations arguing that Rodas has an alleged complaint against him (which he himself denies as orchestrated and false), while accusing Cabrera of prematurely starting her election campaign, because she dared to give interviews.

Human Rights Watch’s deputy Americas director, Juan Papier, complained that “a criminal complaint in and of itself about events that have not yet been investigated is not sufficient reason to disqualify a candidate.” While Rodas spoke of “organized gangs leaving one of the most honest candidacies outside the polls. Democracy in Guatemala is taking another step backwards, they fear the people and their sovereign decisions,” Rodas said.

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52-year-old Thelma Cabrera and the PLP are victims of constant persecution and threats, while 26 members of the movement have been killed since 2019 and no one has been convicted of any of these crimes. In that year’s presidential election, it won fourth place nationwide, while emerging first in four indigenous-majority regions. And until August 2022, when his term ended, Hordan Rodas was one of the few judicial officials who continued to criticize the policy of prosecutions carried out by the government of outgoing President Alejandro Yamate against investigative journalists, prosecutors and judges who sent dozens of corrupt journalists. Politicians and businessmen to jail. “The system is corrupt,” says the activist. “It is designed by the corrupt and the corrupt themselves: they are ruthless but they ‘obligate’ those of us who are pure.”

Extreme drug policy

The Supreme Court of Elections’ criteria for accepting nominations is a scandal in itself, and among them are dozens of politicians who have been accused of money laundering, abuse of power, murder and association with drug trafficking. The nominations of at least 10 people with ties to drug cartels have been approved, including seven on State Department Engel’s list of corrupt and anti-democracy politicians in Central America.

For example, the Turkish Supreme Court did not find an obstacle to the deputy of the ruling coalition, Sofia Hernandez, whose brother was convicted of participating in the “Los Hestas” drug cartel, while the US State Department accused her nephew of smuggling cocaine in the United States. One is for the peer of Judith Mejía Salazar, wife of “Juancho”, one of the chiefs of Los Hestas. Nor for the parliamentary candidacy of Estwin Javier, who is considered one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the country, according to long-term investigations in Guatemala and the United States of America, and who in 2021 was unsuccessfully asked to raise his immunity as president of the country, until they are tried for drug trafficking and hired killers.

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These are two of the many ways to influence elections, which also became apparent with the TSE’s attempt to ban the presidential candidacy of Edmond Mollet, of the right-wing Kabal party, for “obstruction of justice” and “threats against judges”. The attempt to remove him – which did not succeed – was intended to prevent the split of the right-wing vote and to pave the way as much as possible for the victory of Suri Rios Sosa, daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios. Mont.

Although the constitution prohibits relatives of military men who have led coups (like the one her father did in 1982) from running for president — which is why she was disqualified from the presidential election in 2019 — this year she was allowed to participate. Ríos Montt is believed to be responsible for 11,000 deaths during his 17 months in power, and was convicted in 2013 of genocide and crimes against humanity. But days after his conviction, it was overturned on “technical grounds” and he was never jailed. Suri Rios is grateful to her father, as he has “instilled faith in God” in her, defends the dictator’s will, and promises to fight for “conservative values” with the undivided help of evangelical churches.

Opinion polls acquit those keen to impose her “smooth” candidacy. According to the latest research firm TResearch, Rios comes first in voting intention with 23.3%, followed by former First Lady Sandra Torres with 17.7% and Edmund Bury with 16.5%.

Who benefits?

The signs are bleak for a country where, according to the latest Transparency International Index, “state institutions have been eroded by political and economic elites and organized crime, who protect their interests at the expense of the majority of the population, encourage violence and threaten democracy.”

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In this reality, the exclusion of Cabrera and Roda “constitutes an electoral coup that undermines the integrity and credibility of these elections,” local analyst Maximo Pa Tole commented in La Jornada newspaper: “The recent developments in the context of our electoral process confirm that we are facing a form of totalitarian dictatorship. It differs from military dictatorships For the Cold War: because this new form of it is led by politicians, but with a military strategy and even worse, it is under the “courtesy” of drug traffickers, who today are considered the new economic elite of our country.