Guatemala holds a general election June 25 amid political corruption and crackdowns, meanwhile El Salvador renews its State of Exception yet again.
A general election for the president, vice president, and 190 seats of congress will be held on June 25, but a fair election seems to already have been precluded. Candidates critical of the current administration have been systematically excluded from the ballot due to “legal issues.” Not disqualified from office is Zury Rios, daughter and supporter of a former president accused of war crimes and genocide during the Guatemalan civil war. Meanwhile journalists, human right defenders, and anti-corruption investigators have been persecuted into exile or jailed under questionable charges.
We joined a statement of solidarity for a recent target of the political crackdown, human rights defender Jorge Santos. Santos has worked with Maryknoll missioners and affiliates in defense of human rights for 22 years. He was denounced by the witness of the state in a case against José Rubén Zamora, publicist of El Periodico who exposed government wrongdoing.
In 2022 we advocated for the House Resolution “Restore the Rule of Law to Guatemala” which would withhold military aid to Guatemala and divert U.S. investments away from corrupt elites. The resolution has not been revived by the most recent Congress.
Take action: The Maryknoll Society of Fathers and Brothers is hosting an immersion program in Guatemala July 11-19. Apply now to join the program.
The State of Exception under the Bukele administration was conceived as a 30-day emergency suspension of civil rights to combat gang violence. Over a year later, the State of Exception has now been renewed 13 times, most recently on May 27. While the homicide rate has been drastically reduced, we are now learning the full implications of the blanket suspensions of civil rights.
We reported some of the chilling effects of the State of Exception in May and again in November. One year later, a new report reveals that at least 153 people have died in detention during the state of exception. The victims all showed signs of malnutrition. Some bodies revealed a lack of proper medical care, other corpses bore evidence of torture. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace details the burden of the state of exception on women. It is no wonder that UN experts have called for the immediate end of the state of exception on May 22.