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Latam Brief: Guatemalan prosecutors raid ballot boxes (September 14, 2023)

Latin American Daily Briefing (Soy502)
Latin American Daily Briefing (Soy502)

Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arévalo said Tuesday he was temporarily suspending the transition process after agents from the attorney general’s office office raided facilities run by Guatemala’s main electoral tribunal.

The raids, in which government agents open and photograph the contents of ballot boxes have continued for three days, ending today, reports Soy 502 and Soy 502.

Arévalo called for Attorney General Consuelo Porras to resign, reports the Associated Press.

“The decision represents a new test for Guatemala’s authorities and institutions, as Arévalo and Semilla also filed a criminal case in the court system accusing Porras and two of her allies of violating the constitution and several other laws,” reports Americas Quarterly.

The Organization of American States (OAS) said it was “extremely concerned” about the raids, which it said form part of the public prosecutor’s offices’ “strategy of questioning the electoral process and intimidating electoral authorities, electoral personnel and the thousands of people who … carried out two days of peaceful and transparent voting.” (Reuters)

The European Parliament also called on Guatemalan officials to cease efforts to overturn the election, reports Soy 502.

Anti-corruption prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, who has been investigating Arévalo’s Seed Movement party, was leading the operation. Curruchiche has been sanctioned by the United States government for allegedly obstructing the fight against corruption. (Associated Press)

Haiti meets with DR regarding Massacre River water

Haiti’s government said it met yesterday with Dominican Republic officials to discuss a canal controversy that pushed DR President Luis Abinader to threaten total closure of the two countries’ shared border. (See yesterday’s briefs.)

The DR has accused Haitians of constructing a canal on the Massacre River in the country’s northeast, in violation of a nearly century-old treaty agreement between the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola.

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the meeting and said that talks would continue today, reports the Associated Press.

The waterway has always been a source of conflict between the two nations, notes the Miami Herald. But this time the episode is exacerbated by the Haitian government’s weakness, which local actors could be exploiting. The Dominican government statement pinned blame for the conflict on Haitian authorities inability to reign in powerful gangs it cannot control, reports Reuters.

Mexico’s UFO hearings

A Mexican journalist and self-proclaimed “ufologist” presented what he said were thousand-year-old “non-human” corpses to Mexico’s Congress. He spoke during a hearing this week, the country’s first on unidentified aerial phenomena, apparently inspired by the U.S. congressional hearing on the same topic in July.

The two specimens presented by Jaime Maussan “were tiny in stature and chalky in color; each had three-fingered hands and what appeared to be shrunken or desiccated heads,” reports the New York Times.

“This is the first time [extraterrestrial life] is presented in such a form and I think there is a clear demonstration that we are dealing with nonhuman specimens that are not related to any other species in our world,” Maussan told lawmakers, speaking under oath. (Washington Post)

Other studies have suggested the mummies, which were found in Nazca, Peru, in 2017, are fraudulent, notes the Guardian.


  • Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto was determined eligible for asylum in the U.S. — fifteen years after he crossed the border seeking protection, and ending a years-long effort by the U.S. government to deport him, reports the Washington Post.

  • Migration through the Darién Gap is greater than ever, and represents an economic windfall that politicians, prominent businessmen and elected leaders are taking advantage of, reports the New York Times.


  • Brazil’s Supreme Court initiated a trial against four supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro in relation to attacks on government buildings in Brasília on Jan. 8. It was “a highly symbolic hearing in the refurbished supreme court building, which was comprehensively trashed during January’s uprising,” reports the Guardian.

  • The lead judge on the case, Alexandre de Moraes, opened the session saying the Supreme Court would be considering a total of “232 cases involving the most serious alleged crimes, the first four of which we will begin trying today,” reports AFP.


  • Twenty-eight Chilean lawmakers asked the U.S. to declassify more documents related to the 1973 coup against President Salvador Allende — a move they frame as critical to countering dictatorship apologists and misinformation. (La Tercera)

Regional Relations

  • Major misconceptions about Latin America’s foreign policy in the global north include assuming the region to be homogeneous, disinterested in international politics, and that “Latin American countries have not been able to consolidate a regional integration scheme capable of surviving the ups and downs of politics and the change of political coalitions,” writes Daniela Sepúlveda in Americas Quarterly.

  • Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega lashed out against the leaders of Chile and Colombia, after they were critical of his repression of opponents. Colombian President Gustavo Petro expressed solidarity with Nicaraguan poet Gioconda Belli, whose house was confiscated by Ortega. (Deutsche Welle)

  • China and Venezuela have agreed to boost cooperation in oil, trade, financing, mining — and space exploration. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro promised to send “the first Venezuelan man or woman to the moon” in a Chinese spacecraft as part of a new strategic partnership between the two countries, reports the Washington Post.


  • A decision by Ecuadorean voters to ban mining in the northern Chocó Andino region, a Unesco-designated biosphere reserve and another vote to halt oil drilling in a section of the Amazon rainforest”have cast a shadow over Ecuador’s nascent mining industry, its oil sector, the budget and the employment outlook in the affected regions as it now faces losing out on billions of dollars of export revenue,” reports the Financial Times.


  • Argentina’s National Academy of Journalism issued a statement condemning presidential front runner Javier Milei’s recent verbal attacks on journalism, reports LatAm Journalism Review.


  • Brazilian murderer Danilo Cavalcante’s dramatic flight from U.S. police officers turned him into a cult figure in a region “that admires U.S. strength while resenting its centuries of interference and exploitation. Some have seen him as a symbol of resistance to the behemoth to the north,” reports the Washington Post.

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing

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