In the upcoming election, instead of hoping for a response to such protests, many of our partners expect for the status quo to continue. Both presidential candidates will maintain an economic development model that prioritizes private profits over people. We fear that attacks on historical memory, environmental defense, sexual and reproductive rights, community self-determination, and on human rights defenders themselves, would continue.
"My husband was accused of assault by the man who won the mayoral elections. Those of us who defend Mother Earth see very bad times ahead. This second election will affect us a lot, especially because the two candidates for president leave a lot to be desired; there is no good option."
-Woman land defender from the Peaceful Resistance of Mataquescuintla
Alejandro Giammattei is the candidate for the right-wing military party Vamos. In 2006 he served as director of the Penitentiary System and was investigated by the CICIG for his involvement in "Operation Peacock," in which seven prisoners were extra-judicially killed. Giammattei publicly stated that he does not support the renewal of the CICIG.
Sandra Torres is the candidate for the neoliberal party Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE). This is the second time that she is running for President, after facing accusations of illicit campaign financing during her 2015 candidacy. She is the ex-wife of former president Álvaro Colom.
"For the first round of elections, there was still a chance to protect the common good through the candidate of Thelma Cabrera. However, with these two current presidential candidates, we know that extractive projects will continue. These two options only respond to the military and economic interests that continue dominating Guatemala. The electoral process increases risks for defenders of life. Throughout all of this, Indigenous people’s struggle and resistance will continue."
-Nydia Medina, Departamental Assembly of Peoples of Huehuetenango
Three hundred community members organized by the ADH took over the Mesiilla check point on the Guatemala-Mexico border on August 9, protesting the "third safe country" agreement, systemic impunity & the invasion of their territorries by extractive industry. Photo Credit: Departamental Assembly of Peoples of Huehuetenango (ADH)
At NISGUA, we recognize that while electoral politics have real impacts on communities' and activists' security, well-being, and organizing, true change comes from grassroots movements. That's why we continue to stand alongside locally-based, globally-significant Guatemalan struggles for environmental defense, Indigenous and campesino rights, and justice. Please support our advocacy, accompaniment, and cross-border connection-building today!