The elections of corruption and drug trafficking

Guatemala is getting ready for one more election; in the 2023 elections the Supreme Electoral Court allowed the registration of candidates accused of drug trafficking and corruption. In this country, deciding who to vote for is increasingly difficult because the options are discouraging, thus citizens must carefully evaluate and remember the past of those who seek power.

On June 25, Guatemalans will elect national representatives according to a closed electoral list, district representatives (depending on the electoral district in which you vote), mayor and city councilmen, members of the Central American Parliament, and two presidential and vice presidential candidates that will move forward to the second round of elections. 

Prior to the elections, media sources have been sharing stories about the criminal backgrounds of candidates like Roderico Eleazar Ramos Aguilar, mayoral candidate from Esquipulas Palo Gordo, San Marcos, who has been accused of drug trafficking and money laundering. Ramos’s brother, Exadillas, is also linked to drug trafficking and yet remains mayor of El Rodeo de San Marcos and wants to continue in power with the political party Vamos. 

The brothers are not alone– in Chiquimula, the mayor of Ipala, Esduín Jerson Javier Javier, has plans to represent the electoral district with the political party Cambio. Javier Javier is known as “Tres Kiebres” and is linked to a municipal drug trafficking case. 

Another candidate linked to drug trafficking is Elisa Judith Mejía Salazar de Rozotto, who seeks to be the representative of Santa Rosa for the political party Prosperidad Ciudadana. She is the wife of Juan Bautista Rozotto López, frequently known by his nickname “Juancho, one of the leaders of the drug-trafficking gang Las Huistas. The organization operates in the northern region of the country along routes that connect with Mexico. 

In all regions of Guatemala, there are candidates linked to drug trafficking. 

Another frequent scenario is that the candidates that already have been in power over longer periods of time have been accused of corruption but have benefited from the lack of strong laws and impunity. 

This, for example, is the case of Sergio Guillermo Enríquez Garzaro, accused of money laundering and embezzlement in the municipality of Chicamán, Quiché. He is the son of Sergio Enríquez, the leader of the evangelical church Ministerios Ebenezer and is candidate for the third district in the closed electoral list for the political party Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza.

Another candidate with a history of corruption and being against human rights is Allan Rodriguez– representative of the city Sololá– who was sanctioned by the Magnitsky Law from the United States, which allows the United States government to sanction foreign government officials who have been implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. He was accused of using his authority as president of the Guatemalan congress to award construction grants in return for financial bribes and votes in Congress in return for money. Now, he wants to continue as representative of Sololá with the political party Vamos. 

Carlos Enrique López Gíron, a political bigwig from Quiché, hopes to return to parliament with Vamos as well, and was accused of unregistered electoral financing and 17 empty seats in Congress. In both instances, the cases were dismissed by the judge Claudette Domínguez, whose son is also in the Congress. 

Candidates with these types of irregularities in their background can even be found among the candidates for president, with the registration of Zury Ríos as a presidential candidate for the political party Valor has been called into question due to the reputation of his father, Efraín Ríos Montt, one of the men responsible for the genocide against the indigenous people living in Ixil, a northern region of Guatemala.

How does all of this affect the citizenry? The Inter-American Human Rights Commission states that corruption related to the management of public resources compromises the ability of governments to complete their obligations to attend to social rights, including healthcare, education, water access, transportation, and sanitation. These social rights are essential in order to ensure the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of all people, especially populations and groups that are more vulnerable.

While drug trafficking is linked to impunity in human rights violations.

Corruption and drug trafficking also infringe upon one of the most basic human rights: freedom of expression.