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Guatemala’s attorney general asks authorities to act against pro-democracy protests

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s attorney general on Monday called for the government to act against largely peaceful protesters, who have taken to the streets for weeks demanding her resignation for what they say are clear attempts to undermine their nation’s democracy.

Protests broke out in Guatemala two weeks ago following one of the most tumultuous elections in the country’s recent history. The protests are fueled by accusations that Attorney General Consuelo Porras has tried to prevent President-elect Bernardo Arévalo from taking office in January.

Since emerging as a political contender earlier this year, Arévalo – a progressive outsider challenging the elite who have long controlled the Central American nation – and his Seed Movement party have faced waves of legal attacks. Those only ramped up when he won the country’s elections in August.

The attacks have included raids on electoral facilities and the suspension of Arévalo’s political party, effectively handicapping his ability to govern.

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Protestors block the Inter American highway to demand the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras and prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche in Totonicapan, Guatemala, early Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. For the fifth consecutive day people are protesting and blocking roads against the Attorney General who they blame for trying to stop President-elect Bernardo Arévalo from taking office on Jan. 14. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)Guatemala’s top court upholds suspension of president-elect’s party. His supporters block roads90 2217At least 6 people are dead and 12 missing after flash flood in Guatemala sweeps homes into riverGuatemala's President-elect Bernardo Arévalo greets the crowd as he arrives at a march by Indigenous people to demand the resignation of Guatemala's Attorney General Consuelo Porras, outside the Supreme Court building in Guatemala City, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. Arévalo has called people to protest efforts to derail his presidency before he can take office and for the attorney general's resignation. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)Guatemalans rally on behalf of president-elect, demonstrating a will to defend democracy

Such moves against the incoming leader prompted Indigenous groups and rural-dwellers – long disenfranchised in Guatemalan society – to call for an indefinite strike, which began with 14 blockades. Now two weeks into protests, the blockades have since expanded to block more than 80 roads throughout the country.

In a video released Monday morning, Porras described the demonstrations against her as “illegal”, and asked for authorities to forcibly clear the blocked roads and allow for the free circulation of people once again.

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“I want to express my complete disagreement and distaste” of the protests, she said, adding that they “clearly violate the rights of all Guatemalans.”

Demonstrators have largely been peaceful, but her message comes after a handful of incidents over the weekend. People annoyed by the road blockades drove their cars at protesters and were later arrested for causing material damage and making attempts against the lives of the people protesting.

Porras and other prosecutors have been sanctioned by the U.S. government and had their entry visas withdrawn, accusing them of obstructing the anti-corruption fight and undermining democracy in the country.