US condemns arrest of former minister Napoleon Barrientos for not suppressing 2023 protests

government of The United States rejects the arrest of former Interior Minister Napoleon BarrientosWho opposed the repression of the October 2023 protests and blockade against Public Ministry (MP) officials, including Attorney General Consuelo Porras.

Brian Nichols, United States Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, explained the situation, saying: “We condemn the recent actions of anti-democratic actors in Guatemala, including today’s arrest of former Interior Minister Napoleon Barrientos for defending the right to peacefully demonstrate.”

Additionally, the senior US official confirmed that President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and Vice-President-elect Karin Herrera “will take office on January 14.”

In a complex political context for Guatemala ahead of Arévalo’s inauguration as president replacing Alejandro Giammattei, Barrientos’ arrest has sparked growing international concern just hours after his arrest.

As a senior US official, the Secretary General of Organization of American States (OAS), Luis AlmagroCondemned the actions taken by the Prosecutor’s Office, which accuses the former head of Internal Affairs of not complying with a court order issued by the Constitutional Court (CC), which ordered the suppression of demonstrations and blockades in October 2023 Was.

Almagro joined the condemnation, stressing that Barrientos’s detention is an unacceptable use of the parliamentarian’s authority and capacities, a violation of the country’s democratic law.

Almagro captures Interior Minister Napoleon Barrientos

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Before the protests began in August 2023, Nichols, the Under Secretary of State for the State Department, confirmed that the US administration was closely monitoring events in Guatemala.

At the time, when MPs took action against the Semilla Party and former Justice officials, Nicholls declared: ““They are trying to hinder Bernardo Arévalo’s ability to govern and that is unacceptable in a hemisphere where we value democracy.”

As Nicholls said on that occasion, it is a hindrance “Anti-democratic forces, corrupt forces in the country” And concluded by saying: “Clearly public ministry officials.”

Barrientos faces arrest

The former head of internal affairs was asked whether he had resigned to avoid confrontation, to which he replied that the Ministry of the Interior (MINGOB) and ministers are part of the executive body and take decisions collectively.

“In this case, it was to stop the violence and avoid burning the country, but I am very calm. On behalf of the Interior Ministry, we did what was right and now we will face whatever happens with honesty, determination and calmness.”Barrientos assured.

He highlighted that the government acted in accordance with the law when giving written and oral instructions, reiterating that Mingob’s actions were in accordance with the legal framework.

When Barrientos was asked about his feelings regarding his arrest, he responded: “Really cool. It’s inconvenient and sad, but I’m a soldier who’s used to rough treatment. Now I have to face it very calmly and defend myself as per the law.,

When asked if he believed the decisions regarding the blockade were made to protect life, Barrientos said: “Absolutely. If we had acted with violence, we could have engulfed the country in the fire of unstoppable violence. The police were very discreet, various areas of the ministry made relevant recommendations and we believe we acted in the right way.

The former minister was also asked whether there was political pressure to take the decision, to which he replied that there was never any defined political pressure and Mingob always acted in accordance with the law and analysis to prevent the situation from worsening.

Also read: “If we had acted with violence, we could have set the country on fire”: Former minister David Napoleon Barrientos Giron talks about his capture

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