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Statement from Senators on Inauguration of Guatemalan President Arévalo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT) released the following statement after Guatemalan President Bernardo Arévalo’s inauguration:

“We congratulate Guatemalan President Bernardo Arévalo on his historic inauguration today. His inauguration highlights the importance of maintaining a peaceful transition of power and respecting the outcome of a free and fair election. We and others in the U.S. Congress and leaders in Guatemala worked to help ensure that today’s inauguration came to fruition, despite brazen attempts by the departing Giammatei administration to destabilize Guatemala and subvert the will of its people. Corruption, poverty, and impunity are major drivers of the migration crisis at our southern border. It’s important that we tackle these challenges in order to address the migration crisis. We will continue to support the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance, and work to strengthen our relationship with democratic leaders in Guatemala. We also repeat our call for the full release of political prisoners, anti-corruption prosecutor Virginia Laparra and journalist José Rubén Zamora.”

The senators have been outspoken about the need for a peaceful transition of power in Guatemala. Kaine recently led a congressional delegation to Guatemala, which included Durbin, Merkley, Welch, and U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives Delia Ramirez (D-IL-3) and Norma Torres (D-CA-35), to discuss the importance of maintaining democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala. While the delegation was in Guatemala, the country’s Attorney General attempted to nullify the results of the country’s recent free and fair elections—prompting strong condemnation from the delegation before national and international press. Facing mounting pressure, including from the delegation, Guatemala’s private sector and the international community, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei was forced to distance himself from this brazen attempt to void the will of the Guatemalan people.