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US Imposes Visa Restrictions on 100s of Guatemalan Lawmakers, Other Leaders

The United States announced new visa restrictions Monday for nearly 300 Guatemalan lawmakers, other leaders and their families, accusing them of “undermining democracy and the rule of law” in the country.

The restrictions, which were imposed on 100 members of Guatemala’s Congress, as well as private sector leaders and their family members, come as the country is facing criticism for alleged attempts to block President-elect Bernardo Arevalo from taking office.

Arevalo won a run-off election with his Seed Movement party in August in a landslide victory. Since then, Guatemalan authorities have arrested members of his party and repeatedly requested to lift Arevalo’s immunity so they can investigate him directly.

“These brazen measures follow a long list of other anti-democratic actions,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said. “The Guatemalan people have spoken. Their voices must be respected.”

Guatemalan prosecutors last week said that the runoff election results contained irregularities and were therefore void.

Groups including the Organization of American States and the European Union, which sent observers to monitor the election, confirmed the vote’s adherence to democratic standards. They backed Arevalo in condemning the prosecutors’ claims as an attempt to block him from power.

In addition to U.S. visa restrictions, the EU is also considering implementing sanctions on those who played a part in questioning the results of the election, according to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Source : VOA