Guatemala City. Guatemala’s president-elect Bernardo Arévalo has resigned from his post as secretary general of the progressive Movimiento Semilla and announced his departure from the party.
Arévalo justified the step with the party and electoral law. The future head of state emphasized that the decision was not based on “distancing or splitting” the party. Rather, he follows Article 32 of the relevant law. He has the support of Semilla, “we trust that the party will soon regain all its functions,” it said in a statement on Sunday.
The party was suspended at the end of October by the Citizens Register, an authority subordinate to the electoral court ( Amerika 21 reported). According to the current state of affairs, the 23 MPs can only sit in Parliament as “independent” MPs in the coming legislative period, which would significantly curtail their political rights.
Abelardo Pinto Moscoso, the party’s former first deputy secretary, will take Arévalo’s place as general secretary.
Meanwhile, Arévalo will face further burdens when he takes office. On November 30, Congress passed the budget for 2024 in third reading with the majority of votes from the parties of the so-called Pact of the Corrupt. “This hardly allows Arévalo to act,” commented the former German human rights lawyer Miguel Mörth, who lives in Guatemala, in his monthly column for Guatemala Bern network.
In recent days, pressure has increased on outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei to veto the budget. The Central American Institute for Financial Studies (Icefi) argues that the “least damaging scenario would be to veto the budget so that the 2023 budget would remain in force and be analyzed and amended,” according to an article by La Hora.
The Icefi warned “that one of the effects of the budget plan will be the paralysis in the placement or repositioning of bonds, which would complicate the payment of public debts and affect national and international banks and other creditors of the State”. Given such an emergency, the government may need to turn to other sources of funding. Public investments and social spending could not be financed and delays in paying suppliers, contractors and even salaries could occur.
The budget for the public prosecutor’s office, currently the leading institution in the legal prosecution of the Semilla party, is unlikely to be cut in the approved budget. Icefi sees this as a “political decision”. The budget for communications, infrastructure, housing and social development would be increased, while that for public debt service, education and health would be reduced.
Meanwhile, Arévalo said he had made the decisions for his future cabinet and 13 ministerial positions. The names are expected to be announced in mid-December. Guatemala is eagerly awaiting whether these include well-known personalities who had to leave the country in recent years after threats and legal and political persecution. Shortly after his surprising entry into the runoff election, Arévalo had already mentioned the return of the exiles as one of his political goals.
This Thursday, various social organizations are once again mobilizing for a “March for Democracy.” Arévalo also expressly called on “all Guatemalans” to take part.