We regain hope, Guatemala will never again be without the people

“In that historic gesture, faith was never lacking. Prayer and religious services accompanied every day, the different sit-ins that defended the country’s democracy.”


2023 was an epic year for Guatemala. It was an election year, in which, even though many social and civil instances had bet on civic education, the outlook was not flattering. 26 out of 30 political parties seek to perpetuate in power the anti-democratic forces, which have lived on impunity, corruption, and violence for years. The elections were held in June and with them, a gap of hope was opened, which will be consolidated in August, in a second electoral round that will bring to the executive a presidential binomial proposed by a small, new political party, integrated mostly by young people under the leadership of its presidential candidate, son of one of the presidents who made history in Guatemala by generating new paths for the country, back in the 40’s, in the period known as the Democratic Spring of 1944-1954.


This electoral triumph activated all the mechanisms of the mafias that refuse to leave the State and, with the Public Prosecutor’s Office as its main operator, started a witch hunt against the winning binomial and its political party, which ended up affecting the entire population. Not only did they open spurious criminal proceedings against the party, but they also attacked the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the highest governing body of the process, and sequestered the ballot boxes in which the people had made their decision. A coup d’état was in the making, even before the elected binomial took office.


Faced with the risk of losing Guatemala’s little democracy, an important – and majority – actor mobilized: the native peoples, who under the leadership of their ancestral and community authorities led a historic gesture that led us to continue breathing hope and believing in Another Possible Guatemala, with the help of all of us. From October 2, 2023 to January 15, 2024, the native peoples of Guatemala led a peaceful struggle, which was joined by different organized and unorganized sectors of society with seeds of hope in various parts of the country, with the central point being the street in front of the building occupied by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The demand: respect for democracy and the resignation of those who led the abduction of the popular vote: the attorney general and 2 of her prosecutors, as well as the judge who gave the court order.


The ancestral and community authorities gave a lecture and changed the usual forms of social protest in the city. The blaring sound of the plastic horn were replaced by speeches with political content; dissonant words were excluded from these speeches, in which there was always a powerful call for peaceful struggle. Not staining and much less damaging public infrastructure was another of the characteristics of this protest and a constant call to protest with uncovered faces, because when democracy is defended, it is done “with a clean face and clean hands” they said. They taught us that we can all be an active part of the struggle and defense of democracy, in different ways. Taking to the streets with signs and speeches, yes, but for those who could not, it was also important to bring a plate of food, a little music, some art, whenever they could. Even those who had to leave the country contributed to this struggle, Guatemalan migrants all over the world were part of the struggle for democracy.


Faith was never lacking in this historic gesture. Prayer and religious services accompanied every day, the different seeds of hope that defended the country’s democracy. It was 106 days in which the indigenous communities taught us the dimension of faith and how it is lived collectively. They were 106 days in which the peoples shared about community organization, about solidarity, about resistance, dignified resistance. 106 days in which the ancestral and community authorities mobilized dignity and recognition. 106 days that today allow us to write a new history for Guatemala, with the protagonism and leadership of the ancestral and community authorities.

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