At least one dead in Guatemala protests demanding orderly transition of govt

By Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – At least one person died and four were injured during protests in Guatemala, an aid worker said Monday, marking the first death in more than two weeks of continuous demonstrations demanding an orderly transition for President-elect Bernardo Arevalo.

The reform-minded Arevalo won a landslide victory in August, but since then the country’s independent attorney general has intensified investigations into the election and the president-elect’s Seed Movement party, which could stymie the transition.

Protesters are also seeking the attorney general’s resignation.

On Monday, some 50 people carrying firearms, wooden planks and stones, tried to dissolve a protest in the town of Malacatan in western Guatemala, according to a government statement that said 11 people have been detained for their role in the violence.

Tens of thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets daily since Oct. 2 to demand that Attorney General Consuelo Porras step down, as well as other judicial officials taking an active role in what local critics deride as politically-motivated investigations.

The officials have also faced international accusations of trying to undermine Arevalo’s 20-point margin of victory at the polls in the August run-off.

“We treated four injured and one more person who died at the scene, all attacked with firearms… Protesters were attacked by an armed group,” said Diego Calderon, an aid worker in Malacatan.

The identities of the armed assailants were not immediately clear.

Armed groups and police have been clearing some protests in recent days, sparking violence in different parts of Central America’s most populous country.

Arevalo, who is not scheduled to take office until January, backed the protesters in a message later on Monday.

“We demand that authorities ensure the safety of those who peacefully protest,” president-elect Arevalo wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

(Report by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Shri Navaratnam)