Amidst the growing democratic crisis in Guatemala, the arrest of former congressional candidate Marcela Blanco and the persecution of journalists reveal a tense and challenging landscape. With citizen protests, calls for resignations, and a backdrop of democratic decay, the country faces a crucial moment in its political history.

By Diana Fuentes


Brenda Fuentes, mother of the former candidate for deputy Marcela Blanco in Guatemala, remembers every detail of the day the authorities detained her daughter for making comments on social networks such as Instagram and X in favor of democracy and public education in that country .

“My mother, who gets up every morning to thank God, saw them: it was a line of police officers and people from the Public Ministry,” says Brenda. Later, she reports that, although they arrived at dawn, they waited until 6:00 am to knock on the door and break into her home as if they were major criminals.

The 23-year-old former candidate was left handcuffed in the middle of a strong police force on November 16. 8 police officers and 3 women from the Public Ministry entered the house, who had their faces covered.

Marcela Blanco
Marcela Blanco, arrested for her alleged involvement in the USAC takeover case. Photo: Social media.

Political context in Guatemala

Guatemala is one Of the three countries located in northern Central America, it has a population of almost 16 million inhabitants and the majority is of Mayan origin, according to the most recent surveys by the National Institute of Statistics of Guatemala.

A country that for decades has maintained a worrying level of upheaval in terms of democracy and violence, which has worsened over the last 8 years, according to statistics and democracy experts.

Henry Morales, Guatemalan journalist for international media, says: “I have been practicing journalism for 20 years, I see that the situation of democracy has worsened 8 years ago, it is precisely with the departure of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG); I think that was a watershed in issues of democracy because the population saw and we did many topics about it, a fight against corruption that made the population very enthusiastic because high-profile politicians were involved, something that in times of coverage had not happened. seen then.”

In this year, when the elections for president, mayors and deputies were held, the situation worsened and the criminalization of young leaders who participated in the electoral process, the organized peasant movement, human rights defenders and journalists increased.

Mobilizations in the country.

According to a note from the digital media Newtral published on June 20, 2023, he explains in an interview with Mario Recinos, vice president of the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG), that this organization It has counted 36 attacks ranging from limitations to free access to information.

According to the APG, so far 20 journalists have left the country to avoid being arrested by the Public Ministry, managed by Consuelo Porras, attorney general of said instance of justice. 

From the eyes of citizens

An electoral year with many challenges and complications where there were surprises for those who managed to reach the goal of the presidency and many others have continued since September carrying out massive marches at the local level outside the justice institutions. Citizens who have been holding a 60-day sit-in outside the Public Ministry in Guatemala City, an institution directed by Consuelo Porras, the attorney general, whom they accuse of using this instance to persecute the president elected on August 20, Bernardo Arévalo, who He is expected to take office on January 14.

Citizens demand that the democratic process be respected; For this reason, Guatemalans held nationwide sit-ins for 20 days, blocking the country’s main roads in the month of October, something that was unprecedented in the country’s history. The nationwide mobilizations have left four dead, several injured and detained.

Popular discontent

There are two citizen fronts that took to the streets, explaining the indigenous authorities of Nebaj, Quiché. First, that of the urban community of the city and the indigenous authorities at the national level who managed to mobilize more than 6 million Guatemalans for a month, distributed in sit-ins by sector, neighborhoods and departments.

And for three months the mobilizations have continued and threaten to remain in the streets until January 14. Its main ones are the resignations of the attorney general, Consuelo Porras, and other prosecutors accused of corruption, president Alejandro Giammattei, judge Fredy Orellana and deputies of the Guatemalan congress.

Astrid Escobedo, lawyer and specialist in Democracy, explains that“We think that as Guatemalans we go to the polls every four years, this is a democracy, but it turns out that democracy is not voting. A democratic country has pillars of development and economy, the pillar of the rule of law, and we have the institutions and laws, obviously the independence of the powers, the participation of citizens and the vote, the election of officials with free participation.

According toEscobedo,under the protection of democracy and those pillars that are guaranteed in the 1985 constitution. It turns out that under that protection it was decided to manipulate democracy to always keep us under the same context and under the same historical heritage that we have, which is authoritarianism disguised as democracy».


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