HomeLatin AmericaBernardo Arevalo sworn in as Guatemala president

Bernardo Arevalo sworn in as Guatemala president

Bernardo Arevalo sworn in as Guatemala president

Guatemala City (EFE/AP)- Bernardo Arevalo de Leon was sworn in early Monday as the new president of Guatemala for the next four years at the National Theater of the Guatemalan capital.

download 19
Firewrks explode over the National Palace as incoming Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo and Vice President Karin Herrera wave to supporters from the balcony on their inauguration day in Guatemala City, early Monday, Jan.15,2024. Photo: Santiago Billy/AP

The ceremony was held after a ten-hour delay following a haphazard transition amid allegations by the new president of an attempted coup since his electoral victory in August.

“The people of Guatemala have shown their wisdom, and institutions such as the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Electoral Court have protected Guatemalans’ sovereign desire to live in democracy,” Arevalo said in his first address after being sworn in.

Arevalo, a 65-year-old academic was appointed head of state shortly after midnight amid delays in the transfer of power by outgoing President Alejandro Giammatei.

download 1 10
Incoming Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo speaks during inauguration ceremony in Guatemala City, early Monday, Jan.15,2024. Photo: Santiago Billy/AP

In his inauguration speech, Arévalo quickly acknowledged the country’s large Indigenous population, citing “historic debts … that we must resolve.” About 40% of Guatemalans belong to one of about two dozen Indigenous groups, and they are generally poorer and have less access to services of all kinds.

“There cannot be democracy without social justice, and social justice cannot prevail without democracy,” Arévalo said in his first speech as president, referring to the young and Indigenous Guatemalans.

In his first act as president, Arévalo visited the site outside the Attorney General’s Office where Indigenous protesters kept vigil for more than three months, demanding authorities respect the will of voters and for Porras to step down. He applauded the protesters for defending the country’s democracy.

READ MORE : Violence Erupts in Ecuador as Masked Intruders Disrupt Live TV Broadcast

Giammattei did not appear at the National Theatre for the handover ceremony but sent his secretary instead, stressing that he had to hand over his position to the Congress by midnight as required by law.

In the absence of the outgoing president, Arevalo received the presidential sash from the president of the Congress, Samuel Perez Alvarez, who had just assumed office.

Following his electoral success, Arevalo and his “Movimiento Semilla” party have been persecuted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Electoral Court.

The delay in the ceremony was caused by obstacles posed by the several outgoing legislators, ministers and judges, which were cleared with the constitution of the new Congress.

Arévalo’s supporters were forced to wait hours for a festive inauguration celebration in Guatemala City’s emblematic Plaza de la Constitucion, but spirits remained high. For many Guatemalans, the inauguration represented not only the culmination of Arévalo’s victory at the polls, but also their successful defense of the country’s democracy.

download 2 6
People celebrate as they watch the inauguration ceremony of Incoming Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo on a screen outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, early Monday, Jan.15,2024. Photo: Santiago Billy/AP

“No more authoritarianism,” said the new president after his appointment and thanked the youth and the indigenous peoples for defending Guatemala’s democracy.

Arevalo has come to power with an anti-corruption agenda, and his party emerged from the 2015 demonstrations – riding on a similar discourse – that led to the fall of President Otto Perez Molina.

The newly inaugurated president has promised a “new spring,” like the one when his father, Juan Jose Arevalo Bermejo, served as Guatemala’s first democratically elected president (1946-1951). 

Arévalo got early and strong support from the international community. The European Union, Organization of American States and the U.S. government repeatedly demanded respect for the popular vote.

Washington went further, sanctioning Guatemalan officials and private citizens suspected of undermining the country’s democracy.

Follow Us: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube |