Bernardo Arevalo Finally Sworn In as President of Guatemala

Bernardo Arevalo announced that Guatemalan migrants and gender equality will be two of the priorities of his government.

Bernardo Arevalo

Guatemala's new president, Bernardo Arévalo de León, waves during his inauguration ceremony. EFE | Confidential

15 de enero 2024


 “No more authoritarianism,” declared the new president of Guatemala, Bernardo Arevalo, immediately after being sworn in as the head of state of the Central American country. His taking office followed a tumultuous transition process in which the Attorney General, and some judges and legislators of the just-ended Legislature, tried to prevent him from assuming the presidency.

“The people of Guatemala have shown their wisdom, and institutions such as the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal have protected the sovereign desire of Guatemalans to live in democracy,” he said in his first speech as president.

Arevalo received the presidential sash from the President of Congress, Samuel Perez Alvarez, also elected to the position on Sunday, as the outgoing president, Alejandro Giammattei, was absent from the ceremony, arguing that he had to hand over his position no later than midnight on Sunday and therefore sent the institutional symbols to Congress through his secretary.

Arevalo and Perez Alvarez are two of the founders of the Semilla Movement, the party born from the anti-corruption demonstrations in the Central American country during 2015, which culminated in the fall of the government of Otto Perez Molina (2012-2015), currently in prison.

“It is thanks to the youth of Guatemala, who did not lose hope, that today I can speak to you from this podium,” proclaimed the academic and political leader, who thanked the indigenous peoples for defending democracy in Guatemala.

Arevalo entered the National Miguel Angel Asturias Theater, where the inauguration ceremony took place, to the sound of the concert for violin and orchestra “La Primavera,” by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

A “new spring”

The newly inaugurated president has promised the arrival of a “new spring,” like the one led by his father, Juan Jose Arevalo, president between 1946 and 1951, in one of the most developed administrations for the Central American country.

Accompanied by his wife, Lucrecia Peinado, the president walked through the theater amid applause and smiles, despite the more than ten hours of delay in the ceremony, which finally took place in the early hours of January 15, although the law establishes that it should be held on January 14.

Since obtaining the second position in the first round of the presidential elections, Arevalo and the Semilla Movement have been victimized by the Public Ministry (Attorney General’s office) and by the Registry of Citizens, with the aim of overturning his victory at the polls.

The new leader comes to power with an anti-corruption discourse, just like his party, born precisely from the 2015 demonstrations that led to the fall of President Otto Perez Molina.

Migrants and gender equality

In his first inauguration speech, the new president affirmed that migrants and gender equality will be two of the priorities that his government will focus on in the next four years.

Arevalo recalled that his Cabinet is composed, for the first time in the country’s history, of seven women and seven men, and reiterated his commitment to gender equality.

He also emphasized the importance of Guatemalan migrants and said he intends to involve them in the decisions that will shape the future of the Central American nation.

According to official estimates, more than three million Guatemalans live in the United States, mostly irregularly. Their family remittances support almost 35% of the population.

As main objectives of his presidency, Arevalo also cited improving education, health care, and the environment, while ensuring the development of the population.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Agencia EFE

Agencia de noticias internacional con sede en Madrid, España. Fundada en Burgos durante la guerra civil española en enero de 1939.


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