Hamas, the Progressive International and the new government of Guatemala
The new PI members also included the radical group Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which supports the terrorist group Hamas, as does Codeca, a revolutionary Marxist group supporting Guatemala's road blockades (more below) that Mr. Arévalo has also tacitly supported.
On October 4, 2023, the pro-Hamas Progressive International (PI) welcomed its new members publicly. Included was the Semilla Party of Guatemala which will form the new government as of January 14, 2024. Semilla´s incorporation into the PI was made public around the same time that its president-elect, Bernardo Arévalo, attended the forum organized by the Grupo Puebla (GP) in Mexico. GP is a radical leftwing group whose founders include such enemies of the U.S. as Brazil´s president Lula da Silva and ex-presidents Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and Evo Morales (Bolivia). The new PI members also included the radical group Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which supports the terrorist group Hamas, as does Codeca, a revolutionary Marxist group supporting Guatemala's road blockades (more below) that Mr. Arévalo has also tacitly supported.
By any objective measure, PI is a radical, Marxist organization. Its platform states its aims openly:
- Revolution, Not Regime Change
- No Justice, No Peace
- “eradicate capitalism everywhere”
The refrain “no justice, no peace” is a well-known leftwing code phrase meaning political violence. PI´s membership is a who´s who of radical leftists all across the globe. Its council includes radical leftwing personalities such as:
- Mariela Castro, daughter of ex-dictator of Cuba, Raul Castro
- Rafael Correa, ex-president of Ecuador, convicted of corruption
- Gustavo Petro, president of Colombia, linked to narco-cartels
- Jodi Dean (USA): Author of “The Communist Horizon"
- Vicenta Jerónimo Jiménez (Guatemala), an outgoing congressional representative for the radical MLP party, accused of involvement in widespread electricity theft
- Baltasar Garzón, an activist judge known for weaponizing the Spanish justice system
PI´s membership also includes many extremist groups. A few examples:
- DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), USA: opposes Israel (ADL), supports Hamas
- AROC (Arab Resource & Organizing Center): supports Hamas
- SYKP (Socialist Refoundation Party): Marxist/feminist political party in Turkey, supports Hamas
- LIBRE: the party of Xiomara Castro, president of Honduras, which Marxists have praised
- Migrants Organise (UK): opposes reducing illegal immigration
- MSICG (the Guatemalan Trade Union, Indigenous, and Farmer Movement)
If signals mean anything in politics, Semilla is sending strong and wrong signals as to how the future Arévalo government will see itself and, even perhaps, proceed to govern. Of course, signals are always imperfect factors for forecasting. Nonetheless, the self-emitted signals portend that Semilla could attempt to govern Guatemala from the far-left spectrum of politics, exploiting measures such as blockades to achieve their political demands. This was pointedly not the mandate given to the incoming government after the elections in June and August of this year.
The clearest signs of a possible strong veer to the radical left by Semilla are its unwise inclusion into the radically antisemitic PI, its refusal to distance itself from Hamas-supporting groups such as Codeca that are publicly involved in the road blockades that the left has organized in Guatemala to paralyze the national economy or to even mention the horrific terrorist attack on Israel perpetrated by Hamas, even when the president of Guatemala has done so.
Many people may be unaware of the fact that Israel has long been a salient political topic in Guatemala, a country that has been a steadfast ally of Israel since Israel´s founding as a State. This stands in contrast to the majority of her neighbors in the region and the radical left in Guatemala. Were the Arévalo government to change the foreign policy position of Guatemala regarding Israel, something a president of Guatemala can unilaterally do, it would be a serious setback to US foreign policy in the region.
To govern from the far left, Semilla would need outside help, not the least from the US Department of State (DOS), under a left-leaning Democratic administration. Semilla will have little power in the next Guatemalan Congress and even less so among the 340 municipalities in Guatemala, where the party is poorly represented among the mayorships. Surprisingly, the regions where Semilla did most poorly in electing congressional representatives and mayors are where the most potent support and organization for road blockades is coming from.
The road blockades and the increasing radicalization of the Guatemalan left
In Guatemala, road blockades have been organized at strategic transit points in an attempt to forcibly shut down the national economy, create social conflict, and increase the pressure to force the resignation of the attorney general (AG) of Guatemala (more below). Indigenous organizations ostensibly organize these blockades and are strongest in the regions characterized by State absence and Narco presence. The groups most publicly fueling the blockades are the pro-Hamas group Codeca and 48 Cantones (48C). 48C is another indigenous group that has received financing from USAID (also here). It presents itself as an ancestral authority in Guatemala, but it is not a democratically elected group, as even left-wing journalists acknowledge. Both groups (48C and Codeca) insist that they will continue blockading roads until the attorney general (AG) of Guatemala, Consuelo Porras is forced to resign, along with her team of prosecutors.
The call for the resignation of the Attorney General
AG Porras, whose official mandate ends in 2026, is investigating the Semilla Party for alleged infractions of the electoral law (LEPP, in Spanish), specifically whether Semilla complied with the LEPP on matters regarding their fulfillment of legal obligations required for registration as a political party. The results of other investigations into allegations of electoral fraud are also pending. Whatever the outcome of these cases, the overwhelmingly likely scenario is that Arévalo and his sizable minority congressional delegation would still assume power.
The international media narrative promoted all over the world is that there is a coup underway in Guatemala. This is factually and conceptually incorrect. Coups are directed at the government in power, and Mr. Arévalo is not in power. The Guatemalan media outlet República published a clarifying editorial on the difference between the results of the electoral processes and the legal cases being brought against the Semilla Party for alleged irregularities in their registration process. That Arévalo is in danger of not assuming political office is questioned by many analysts.
Pressure is mounting on Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei, to force the AG to open certain cases, desist in others, or fire her. This would be illegal in Guatemala, and an impeachable offense in the U.S. Paradoxically, the difficulties currently being experienced in Guatemala are a direct result of undue interference by the USG in the internal matters of Guatemala. When Todd Robinson, currently Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, was U.S. ambassador to Guatemala (2014-2017), during the heyday of the UN´s ostensible anti-corruption project CICIG (directed by USG), the government of Guatemala (GOG) was successfully pressured to change 3 specific laws during his tenure. These were:
- The LEPP (Law of Elections and Political Parties)
- The Law of the Public Ministry (LPM)
- The Law of the Judicial Branch
Changes to the LEPP gave wide discretion to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to cancel political parties. They established the strict rules to which Semilla is currently being held, as were other leading candidates. In point of fact, had the right-of-center candidate, Carlos Pineda, not been disqualified one month before the first round elections, when he was leading in the polls, he would most likely be the president-elect of Guatemala today.
In addition, changes to the LPM made it impossible for the president of Guatemala to remove the AG, as President Alejandro Giammattei has said. The changes to the LPM were supported by the USG-acolyte Thelma Aldana, when she was the AG of Guatemala. The reason this was done was that the USG, and its surrogate CICIG, believed that they could indefinitely control the electoral and judicial systems in Guatemala. They did not consider the law of unintended consequences.
Credible allegations do exist against Semilla that falsified signatures were presented in order for it to register as a formal political party in 2019. As is common practice among virtually all political parties, Semilla activists may have taken illegal shortcuts in order to register the movement as a formal political party. Of course, this would not result in the cancellation of a political party in the U.S., but the undue ability of Guatemalan electoral authorities to cancel political parties is due to changes in the LEPP that the U.S. and the international community supported just a few years ago. At the time, the USG wanted to rush post the then AG Thelma Aldana as a presidential candidate in the upcoming 2020 elections. Her candidacy was blocked at the time.
It remains to be seen whether Semilla in fact took shortcuts in the process of its registration as a political party. Even if Semilla came to be canceled as a political party, its congressional representatives and presidential and vice-presidential candidates would still assume office in January of 2024. None of this would even need clarification had it not been for USG-forced changes in Guatemalan legislation.
DOS has shown its explicit and implicit support for Semilla, as the incoming government of Guatemala (here, here, here). However, Semilla joining the PI and the Grupo Puebla may signal troubles ahead for U.S. interests in the region, especially as regards Israel and the China question.
The China question in Guatemala is especially important, perhaps as much or even more so than the Israel question. Guatemala is the largest country in terms of GDP and population in the world that still formally recognizes Taiwan. As president, Arévalo will have the singular authority to formalize diplomatic relations with Communist China, without congressional approval. On his decision alone rests the power to change Guatemalan foreign policy regarding China and Taiwan. It bears reminding that the left in Latin America harbors a historical resentment against the U.S. and all that it represents, including capitalism and republican democracy. Only one country in South America still recognizes Taiwan, and that is Paraguay, a country that this year held elections where the leftist candidate, leading in the polls at the time, declared his intention of shifting towards China. In the region of Central America and the Caribbean, it is Guatemala that stands out for its fidelity towards Taiwan. That support is also hair-thin. A Semilla government would be the test.
In sum, at stake for the USG regarding the incoming government of Semilla are Guatemala´s relations with Israel and Taiwan, two of the most important countries for U.S. foreign policy. U.S. political leaders must pay more attention on Guatemalan political affairs, and the role in Guatemalan domestic affairs played by U.S. diplomats currently in service and retired, as well as agencies such as USAID that provide fungible funds to the most radical anti-American elements of Guatemalan society.
- Guatemala´s alliances with Israel and Taiwan might be in peril under a Semilla government
- Semilla has sent mixed signals as to whether it will be a moderate social-democrat party
- Semilla´s inclusion in the corrupt PI undermines its claim that it stands against corruption
- Semilla´s democratic commitment is degraded by its association with Codeca
- By adhering to the anti-capitalist PI platform Semilla´s promises to respect the private sector as the job-creating base of the economy become highly questionable.
- Semilla´s public commitments to peaceful protests are subject to stricter scrutiny given its adherence to the PI platform which celebrates the Hamas mantra of “no justice, no peace”
Final Observation: By all accounts, Mr. Arévalo is an intelligent, well-studied man, at the head of a sociopolitical movement that Guatemala has not seen in many years. Efforts should be made to convince him that a veer to the hard left would not be a wise governing strategy for his government.