Guatemala's Bernardo Arévalo Sworn In After Hours-Long Opposition Delay

    Photo: Presidencia de Colombia/Flickr [via Wikimedia Commons]

    The Facts

    • Bernardo Arévalo was sworn in as Guatemala's president for a four-year term minutes after midnight on Monday, over nine hours behind schedule, following a tense legislative session in which outgoing and incoming deputies engaged in debates for and against his minority Semilla Movement.

    • This comes as a judicial ruling ordered Semilla's elected lawmakers to assume their positions as independents instead of representatives of the party. Ultimately, they managed to reverse the decision with the support of other parties and win the presidency of the new Congress.

    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    With the decisive support of the Biden administration as well as of the European Union, democratic forces in Guatemala thwarted the slow-motion, legal coup to prevent Arévalo from being sworn in, which had been underway since his unexpected electoral victory. Now that Guatemala's corrupt political elites are finally out of power, cooperation to address drug trafficking and the migrant crisis may thrive.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    It's outrageous and disturbing, though not surprising, that the Biden administration has sided with Arévalo even in the face of serious allegations against his Semilla Movement — including accusations of forging signatures to register as a party and engaging in money laundering, as well as claims of electoral fraud. If anything, America has enabled undemocratic forces to win in Guatemala.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 42% chance that Guatemala will experience a successful coup d'etat before 2040, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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