Guatemala's August 2023 Election Results (Torres, Arevalo)

Traditional powers will seek to undermine Arévalo’s political project and delegitimize him with various accusations against him and his movement, leaving very little room for the president’s agenda

President Bernardo Arévalo’s moderate approach to the private sector stands out among regional left-wing leaders. He has demonstrated a commitment to promoting business and international investment to create jobs, as evidenced by his meetings with the exporters’ association and the agreed programs to boost the economy. However, significant opposition poses risks to national stability and the business climate, potentially leading to uncertainty and tensions during his presidency.


In a decisive electoral victory back in August 2023, Arévalo secured a remarkable 58% of the votes, surpassing former First Lady Sandra Torres. However, his path to the presidency was marred by a series of judicial challenges orchestrated by the opposition, aimed at preventing Arévalo from assuming office. This period saw months of legal battles and obstructions, culminating in a fruitless nine-hour delay on president’s Arévalo inauguration day due to congressional hindrances. Moreover, the country’s attorney general, Consuelo Porras, who played a key role in obstructing the power transition and was supported by outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei, was subsequently added to the US’s list of corrupt and antidemocratic actors.

The new president’s inauguration, initially planned for 3:00 p.m. on January 14, was significantly postponed due to disagreements in Congress and judicial decisions. In response to the chaotic transition of power, Arévalo will summon Porras and ask for her resignation. Arévalo accused Porras of orchestrating an “overthrow of the government” and threatening the presidential transition.

Amid the disruptions during his inauguration, Arévalo, a left-wing progressive, has set a governmental agenda focusing on critical areas such as health, education, and infrastructure. However, his undeniable priority is the fight against corruption. To tackle this challenge, he has proposed the creation of an “anti-corruption cabinet” responsible for implementing transparency-focused reforms and laws. These measures include disqualifying officials convicted of corruption from holding public or elected positions and the formation of an anti-corruption surveillance commission. In terms of security, which is a growing concern for the region and the country, Arévalo proposes strengthening security forces to control territories and prisons. However, he has distanced himself from the so-called “Bukele model.” Moreover, Arévalo’s government has promised to focus on improving social security and supporting sectors such as agriculture and entrepreneurship.

Our View

Following Árevalo’s tumultuous inauguration and the ambitious agenda set forth by the president, the most notable aspect was the citizen outcry, particularly from the indigenous community. These groups mobilized in protests following the hurdles posed by the opposition. This strategy is part of an effort to address the power vacuum the president faces in Congress, where he has only 23 parliamentarians in support, while the opposition holds the majority of the 160 parliamentary seats. This situation may lead to escalating disputes between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Arévalo will spend most of his term contending with resistance from the party of former President Giammattei and his allies. These disputes could create conditions that would allow for the removal of his immunity in an effort to change the election outcome. Consequently, it will be challenging for Arévalo to implement the promised social, institutional, and educational reforms.

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