Politics

Shedding Guatemala as a Important American Ally

The disastrous results of Guatemala’s presidential election
The first round of Guatemala’s presidential election was held on June 25, and the results were terrible for this 17 million-person, typically conservative Central American country. The election of a leftist government may drastically alter the current administration, which has been pro-American and a steadfast ally in foreign affairs. These results are also not good for America. Unexpectedly, lefties Sandra Torres, the former first lady, and Bernardo Arévalo, the son of former Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo Bermejo, are the two contenders going into this Sunday’s runoff elections. In a very divided vote, the two won the first round of elections with just 15% and 11%, respectively.
The nation’s attorney general controversially disqualified the then-frontrunner, a conservative businessman, before the election, and the Right has been heavily criticised for splintering the country’s majority conservative vote and providing the Left with an opportunity to seize power. The outcomes snap the winning streak for conservatives in Latin America this year. In order to position herself as a champion of the country’s firmly held conservative values—pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religion—Torres has changed the focus of her campaign. Arévalo is from Semilla, a recently formed political party. “He’ll make common cause with global progressives on abortion, gender identity, and a pro-LGBTQ+ platform,” local conservatives worry. Arévalo avoided discussing social concerns during the campaign in favour of concentrating on a compelling anti-corruption platform.
Even while Guatemala has made significant strides in democratising its economy, the country is nevertheless plagued by scandals and government-business corruption, which have undermined the confidence that Guatemalans have in their own institutions. Just 60% of eligible voters cast ballots, and 24% of them left theirs blank, exposing the public’s loss of faith in the government.
The consequences for US foreign policy
The election in Guatemala may have a significant effect on US national security. The present conservative government has been a steadfast supporter of American foreign policy, openly supporting Ukraine over Russia, acknowledging Taiwan over Communist China, and being firmly pro-Israel and pro-American.
Other states in Latin America have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which offers substantial infrastructure expenditures and loans to states in exchange for their allegiance to Beijing. Alejandro Giammattei, the president of Guatemala at the moment, recently vowed to support Taiwan “absolutely” when neighbouring Honduras switched allegiance and recognised Beijing over Taipei. Torres pledged to uphold and deepen ties with Taiwan on the economic front. However, her detractors caution that, given the president’s executive authority, “she could easily switch to China” once in office. “Torres previously praised the PRC [People’s Republic of China] as an economic powerhouse, though she still wishes to maintain relationships with the USA and Taiwan since they are vital trade partners for us,” cautions Alejandro Palmieri, editor of La Republica Guatemala.
Regarding Arévalo, he has expressed his desire to forge closer ties with China since he thinks that these contacts are crucial to Guatemala’s economic development. “Guatemala is one of the U.S.’s last partners in the region that still holds conservative values such as support for a free-market economy, recognising the hemispheric threat Communist China poses, and fidelity to the idea that the family unit is central to our lives,” said Palmieri, citing similarities between Guatemala’s conservative values and conservative American principles. Should global progressives establish a new stronghold in Central America as a result of Sunday’s election results, these common values may be in jeopardy. Certainly, the White House is probably all too ready to throw open the red carpet for Guatemala’s next left-wing president, given its experience dealing with progressives in other parts of the hemisphere and Marxist victors in Brazil and Colombia.

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