Oct 26, 2023 - World

In photos: Pro-democracy Guatemalan protesters remain defiant

Three Guatemalan Kakchiqueles indigenous men and a teen boy march during a sunny day in Guatemala. One man is walking on wooden crutches.

Kaqchikel Indigenous people in Guatemala march on Oct. 13 to call for the the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras and prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche in Guatemala City. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/ AFP via Getty Images

With their country's democracy in peril, thousands of Guatemalans have spent weeks blocking roads and marching to protest against top government officials for what they say are sham investigations into the political party of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo.

State of play: The protests largely target Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who has been banned from the U.S. over corruption allegations, for her office's various moves that critics and human rights watchers say are an attempt to keep Arévalo out of office. Arévalo ran on an anti-corruption platform.

  • Porras has called the protests illegal and has defended the investigations into Semilla, saying her office has followed the law.

What to know: Guatemalans are facing an uncertain government transition after months of unproven allegations by the current government that Arévalo's progressive party, Movimiento Semilla, falsified signatures to get on the ballot. The party denies this.

  • The protests have been led by Indigenous leaders who called for a strike until Porras resigns and have blocked dozens of roads. Although half of Guatemalans identify as Indigenous, the population has long been politically marginalized.
Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arévalo waves and smiles at a crowd during massive protests against the country's attorney general
Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arévalo waves to supporters in Guatemala City during the commemoration of the 79th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew dictator Jorge Ubico. Arévalo's father, Juan José Arévalo, was Guatemala's first democratically-elected president, serving from 1945 to 1951. Photo: Orlando Estrada/AFP via Getty Images
two Guatemalan men walk side by side, one holding a large Guatemalan flag and the other with one arm in the air.
Indigenous people take part in a demonstration to demand the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras and Prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche outside the Public Ministry in Guatemala City on Oct. 17. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images

The big picture: Arévalo is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 14. Porras' office doesn't appear to be is pulling back from the legal moves against Semilla, nor is she caving to protesters' demands to resign.

  • Citing five anonymous sources, Reuters reported last week that Porras has "crafted a complex strategy" to weaken Arévalo or even stop him from taking office.
a man in a cowboy hat looks off to the side during a protest against the Guatemalan attorney general. He is wearing a brown jacket and stands in front of a large banner with a picture of a fist
A man attends a protest calling for the resignation of Porras and Curruchiche in Guatemala City on Oct. 17. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
Two young girls in a protest in Guatemala hold a white poster board with pictures of government officials. The sign says "corrupt actors renounce" in Spanish.
Two young women march against Porras in Guatemala City on Oct. 13. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images

What to watch: An order by the nation's top electoral court that lifted a lower court's suspension of Movimiento Semilla expires on Oct. 31.

  • If the party's registration is revoked again, members elected to Congress would not be able to serve on key committees, which would put Arévalo's agenda in peril.
For men kneel on the ground, holding their hats and praying during a protest against the attorney general in Guatemala.
Indigenous leaders pray during a protest in Guatemala City on Oct. 12. Indigenous Guatemalans have been leading the protests since the beginning of October, blocking roads and demonstrating outside the country's main government buildings. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
A Guatemalan man in a black hat raises his fist in the air during a protest against Guatemala's attorney general. Several people are behind him holding the country's flag
This Oct. 12 photo shows a Guatemalan protester during negotiations between Indigenous leaders and President Alejandro Giammattei and the Mediation MIssion of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Guatemala City. The government and protesters that day failed to reach an agreement to open dozens of closed roads. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
dozens of protestors stand outside Guatemalan government offices during the night, waving their arms in the air and holding up cell phone flashlights
Demonstrators listen to union leader Edgar Tuy speak after meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and the Mediation Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS) outside the Presidential House in Guatemala City on Oct. 12. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
About 14 police officers stand in full riot gear in front of a red garage door during protests in guatemala.
Riot police stand guard as demonstrators block a road during an Oct. 13 protest in San Lucas, Sacatepequez, Guatemala, demanding Porras' resignation. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
Four men stand near several lime green barrels that are blocking access to a road in Guatemala City, Guatemala
Protesters use barriers to block a road in Guatemala City on Oct. 9. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
A woman looking off to the horizon holds a white sign with black and blue letters that says "we are defending democracy. No corruption. Out
An unidentified woman holds a Spanish-language sign that says "we are defending democracy." University students and others blocked a road during a protest in Guatemala City on Oct. 7. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
many protesters wave the blue and white Guatemalan flag while outside government buildings. some protesters are atop a bus.
A demonstration in Guatemala City on Oct. 10. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images
Go deeper