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Guatemalan electoral court refuses to allow leftist candidacy for presidency

By Thorben Austen

The Guatemalan Electoral Tribunal TSE has informed the leftist party Movimiento para la Liberación de los Pueblos (Movement for the Liberation of Peoples, MLP) that it will not allow its candidacy for the presidential election.

The police certificate of good conduct presented by the candidate for vice president, former human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas, was invalid.

There were “legal complaints” against his person, the statement said.

A complaint filed by the party through lawyers on Monday and accompanied by protests was rejected by the plenary session of judges of the TSE on Thursday evening (local time) – the registration of Thelma Cabrera and Jordán Rodas as presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the elections scheduled for June 25 will still not be accepted.

Movement for the Liberation of Peoples, MLP. (Photo internet reproduction)
Movement for the Liberation of Peoples, MLP. (Photo internet reproduction)

“The clock is ticking with this decision against the MLP … which must now appeal the TSE’s decision or go to the Supreme Court to continue the legal battle over the registration of its candidates,” Prensa Comunitaria wrote in response.

According to legislation, Guatemala’s political parties or electoral alliances must always run as a “duo” with candidates for both offices (binomio presidencial) and be registered.

The Cabrera – Rodas duo had been elected at the party’s central electoral assembly at the end of December 2022.

The MLP participated for the first time in the previous elections in 2019 and reached fourth place at the first attempt with Cabrera as the candidate.

At that time, it was only about three percentage points short of making it to the runoff.

The party is considered a “political instrument” of the rural workers’ organization Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (Codeca) and has its backing primarily among the indigenous rural population.

In three departments with indigenous majorities and among migrants in the United States who were allowed to vote in an election in Guatemala for the first time, Cabrera came in first place at the time.

A native of Quetzaltenango, Rodas held the office of human rights superintendent from 2017 to 2022.

During that time, Rodas, who was politicized in the student movement, strongly advocated for the interests of the marginalized population, attracting the hatred of the economic and political elite.

A few hours before the end of his term, Rodas was forced to leave the country on August 20, 2022, following threats from right-wing circles.

Rodas denied all accusations against his person. In a statement broadcast on social networks last Saturday, he said that behind the expulsion sought “is the fear of the corrupt … Of the alternative that the candidacy represents”.

He said that all the necessary documents for the candidacy were available and that there were no legal reasons to prevent it.

The electoral authority is making itself “an accomplice to an electoral fraud.”

Rodas has filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office against the head of the Electoral Board’s Registry Office, Ramiro José Muñoz Jordán, for “false accusation,” the politician announced.

Also, for the lawyer Gustavo Maldonado, who represents the MLP in the current case, the Electoral Tribunal exceeds its competencies.

The basis of the rejection of the candidacy, he said, was a “complaint” filed by the current human rights ombudsman, Ajejandro Córdova Herrera, against his predecessor.

“Strangely, two days after that, the head of the TSE instructed the staff to investigate all candidates to see if there were any legal complaints.”

However, he said, even a present complaint does not yield a legal basis for denying registration as a candidate.

Only a final conviction can limit a person’s right to stand.

The action was politically motivated and intended to prevent the candidacy of the MLP, Maldonado said in an interview with the amerika21 outlet.

Meanwhile, Cirilo Pérez, secretary general of the MLP, told the press that they are sticking with Rodas as a candidate.

He said there were no thoughts of nominating a new candidate. “The MLP will run with Rodas in the presidential election or not at all,” he said in Con Criterio.

The party is also counting on pressure from the street.

On Thursday morning (local time), supporters gathered in front of the Electoral Tribunal building; participants spoke of around a thousand people from different regions of Guatemala demanding the immediate approval of Cabrera and Rodas.

According to Prensa Libre, the demonstrators had warned of “blockades of airports and ports and the occupation of buildings” if the candidate was not approved.

The agricultural workers’ organization Codeca has repeatedly demonstrated its mobilizing power in recent years.

On several occasions, the organization has successfully paralyzed the country with nationwide road blockades.

The organization mobilized tens of thousands for large demonstrations in the capital, most recently last year.

Guatemalans living abroad also spoke out.

The “Network of International Solidarity with Guatemala”, according to its information, an association of Guatemalans from thirteen countries, assured in a letter their “solidarity with the MLP” against this “mafia-like action of the corrupt”.

This post was first published here. 

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