(Bloomberg) -- Protesters blocked highways and marched in Guatemala’s main cities on Monday after president-elect Bernardo Arévalo denounced a “coup” plot to keep him out of power.
Arévalo called on supporters to take to the streets to defend democracy after the Attorney General’s office raided the electoral authority on Friday. The raid was the fifth since the Aug. 20 vote, and prosecutors confiscated tally sheets and other documents in a case against Arévalo’s Semilla party.
“It’s our civil duty to protest these attacks on the rule of law and attempts to break constitutional order,” Arévalo said, in a statement posted on social media.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Arévalo by video call on Monday. Guatemalans face “continued efforts to impede a democratic transfer of power,” the State Department later said in a statement.
The US and the Organization of American States have joined Arévalo in denouncing Attorney General Consuelo Porras’s actions. Arévalo won the election pledging a crackdown on graft, and accuses Porras, prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche and court judge Fredy Orellana of trying to sabotage his victory.
Read more: Guatemala’s President-Elect Suspends Transition Process
The Attorney General’s office says it had a warrant from a judge to conduct the raids, that its actions are grounded in the constitution, and that they have a duty to respond to criminal complaints.
The nation’s highway authority said that at least 17 routes were blocked, in an alert sent at 9.20 a.m. local time. Local media showed groups of Arévalo supporters marching, some holding signs demanding the Attorney General’s resignation.
The US State Department said Sunday that it is “gravely concerned” about attempts to undermine a peaceful transition of power. The Organization of American States said Friday that the raids violate Guatemala’s constitution.
The nation’s dollar bonds maturing in 2033 fell 0.46 cent to 76.6 cents at 10 a.m. local time. Despite the political instability, the nation last week had no difficulty in selling $565 million of nine-year bonds to yield 7.05%.
“The raids evidence the extent to which parts of the ruling pact are intent on preventing Arévalo from taking office in January,” Eurasia Group analyst Risa Grais-Targow said, in response to written questions. “This will probably lead to more social unrest.”
Last month, Arévalo’s party was suspended pending an investigation by prosecutors into whether rules were breached during its formation in 2018.
(Adds US government comment in fourth paragraph)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
BNN Bloomberg Picks
A timeline of Bank of Canada rate hikes
Where could gold prices go in 2024?
High rates untenable amid household 'debt crisis': Rosenberg
EXPLAINER: First Quantum, the Canadian miner at the heart of mining protests in Panama
Approach art investing as you would stocks and bonds: expert
Declining prices shift Canadian views of homes as investments