By Juan Luis Font
At the close of February, it appears that the political landscape of the next four years will be a continuation of what we are seeing now. Everything could change if the Constitutional Court makes some unexpected decision—quite unlikely, to be honest. Or if there is some exceptional scandal that throws gasoline on the fire of a public already fed up. But this too is unlikely.
Tolerance for has become endemic in a society that settles for growing remittances and exports. Both are balms and anesthesia for the ongoing social and political crisis. In this way, Guatemala isn’t so different from Nicaragua, where GDP will % and where life will go on despite everything.
Zury Ríos will very probably be the next president, and her governing team and coalition in Congress will be very similar to those that now dominate the executive and the legislature. Between her governing coalition and that of current President Alejandro Giammattei, there will be perhaps differences of degree, but not of kind. Every day, new and conspicuously suspicious candidates appear in Ríos’ circle. And the next legislature, which will take office in January 2024, will no doubt demand more “business” deals even than the current gluttonous Congress.
With so many narcos in Rios’ coalition, her future will have to work hard to convince Washington of Guatemala’s loyalty in the fight against drug trafficking. The argument of sovereignty, used to justify an offensive against anti-corruption efforts, will be harder to maintain in this field. But the U.S. will always be willing to , and Guatemala’s next administration will be able to make appealing offers, from extraditing certain narcos and neutralizing migrant caravans to supporting Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan on the world stage.
Meanwhile, those who today give the orders in the justice system will in all likelihood continue to do so over the coming years. This is shown, for example, in the fact that the camps of Constitutional Court’s Héctor Hugo Pérez Aguilera and the Guatemalan Bar Association’s Néster Vásquez seem to be gaining ever more influence.
If the Supreme Court of Justice is ever shuffled, it will be to welcome back the same judges or people close to them. The Public Ministry—which has diligently guaranteed impunity for the government’s corruption and pursued with a sporting passion the persecution of former prosecutors and judges—will stay smug. The number of Guatemalan exiles will, predictably, grow.
The opposition within the system will continue to be the thorn in the side of the hog that occasionally pierces the skin but whose presence is more symbolic than effective. Meanwhile, the opposition that wants to dynamite the system will continue to grow. But in Guatemala, the accumulation of power in revolutionary hands has never led to meaningful, lasting change. Even so, it is clear that this wing of thewill continue to call major protests, and that this could lead to incidents of violence.
For Codeca—a major national grassroots group based in rural and indigenous communities—its highway blockades are the best way to make its perspectives heard, even though these blockades seem to make the middle and upper classes so indignant. Given that the middle and upper classes will probably never support a campesino, indigenous option—like the presidential candidacy of Thelma Cabrera, a Codeca organizer—Codeca doesn’t care if these people like them or not.
Only the people can save the people, Codeca thinks.
Against this backdrop, it is very unlikely that Guatemala’s democracy will progress. And there is very little hope that corruption will yield enough space for the government to fulfill even its most basic functions.
Migration will continue as a constant flowing current. And much of society will remain largely indifferent to all this, moved only when the godsend that are family remittances inspires their gratitude.