Cardin, Durbin, Kaine, Merkley, Butler, Welch Introduce Resolution Calling on Guatemala to Ensure Peaceful Transfer of Power

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), introduced a resolution calling for the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Bernardo Arévalo in Guatemala.

The resolution urges the government of Guatemala to prioritize and work actively to ensure a peaceful transfer of power and proceed with the inauguration of President-elect Arévalo on January 14, 2024. It also calls on the government of Guatemala to commute the sentences of José Rubén Zamora and Virginia Laparra, and end the intimidation and threats against all other actors working to reduce corruption in Guatemala.

“The people of Guatemala cast their votes in a free and fair presidential election,” said Chair Cardin. “They deserve to have their voices heard and respected; they deserve to demonstrate and organize in support of the democratic process; they deserve to be represented by their chosen and duly elected officials. But what they don’t deserve is to have their voice overruled by those who seek to subvert the rule of law to cling to power. The government of Guatemala must respect the will of the people and allow for the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arévalo.”

“Guatemala has struggled with conflict, corruption, stark inequality, and fragile democratic governments. Many forget that until the 1980s, much of Latin America was led by military dictators, sometimes with Cold War-era support of the United States.  Guatemala’s bloody 36-year civil war only ended in 1996. It’s a reminder of why U.S. attention to the region’s nascent and often fragile democracies is so important,” said Senator Durbin. “President-elect Bernardo Arévalo won a decisive electoral victory and I am pleased that he will assume office on January 14, despite brazen efforts to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. I hope one of his early moves will be to fully release the following political prisoners: anti-corruption prosecutor Virginia Laparra and journalist José Rubén Zamora.”

“Preserving and strengthening democracy in Guatemala is critical to protecting the security of our hemisphere and addressing shared challenges like migration. After efforts by the Guatemalan Attorney General and Public Ministry to overturn a free and fair election, I’m joining my colleagues to again underscore the need for a peaceful transition of power on January 14 and a continued partnership based on democratic principles,” said Senator Kaine.

“As President-elect Arévalo prepares to take office this month, the United States remains steadfast in its support for the democratic will of the Guatemalan people,” said Senator Merkley. “A group of us recently visited Guatemala to reaffirm the United States’ support for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. Attempts to delegitimize the results of the country’s elections must not be allowed to succeed.” 

“I stand in solidarity with the people of Guatemala and their democratic rights,” said Senator Butler. “This resolution supports the rights of our Guatemalan neighbors to hold free and fair elections, and advances our shared democratic values. I am proud to join my colleagues in efforts to resist threats to democracy wherever they exist.”

“Last August, a decisive majority of Guatemalans voted to reaffirm their support for integrity, decency, and justice. President-elect Arévalo exemplifies those qualities, and in this Resolution we reaffirm our support for the preservation of democracy and the upcoming peaceful transition of power. Guatemala faces immense challenges, and the United States and the Arévalo administration will tackle them together for the benefit of the people of both our countries,” said Senator Welch.

Full text of the resolution can be found here.