Attempted Assassination of Guatemalan President – Four Detained In Mexico

OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion

The Central American country of Guatemala is a tourist destination for those seeking rainforests, rivers, and reef diving.

Guatemala has been known as a democratic republic and welcoming to commerce with visitors.

Political unrest in Guatemala, however, is in the news.

Recently the government of Guatemala detained a journalist from that country, Jose Ruben Zamora.

An award-winning journalist and founder of El Periodico publication, Zamora is a staunch critic of the Guatemalan government, and after a raid on his office was arrested by police on charges of probable money laundering, local media reported.

Zamora stated to reporters at the time of his arrest,” There must be a conspiracy, persecution. If that’s the case, we must pay for the love of Guatemala with jail time,” the New York Times reported.

Republic World noted:

“The arrest of Zamora is the latest move by Guatemalan authorities to crush political dissent and attempts to expose graft and corruption in the government of President Giammattei. This comes as Guatemala continues to remain a hotbed of human rights violations. Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights enlisted Guatemala in the category of serious human rights violations, an accusation that president Giammattei rejects.”

Giammattei, a former director of the Guatemalan penitentiary system and coordinator of electoral processes, was elected as president in 2019.

His political statements include pledging to “crush violent gangs, fight poverty to stop migration, and end ‘disgusting’ corruption.”

The president is “against same-sex marriage and abortion, and supports using the military for civilian security.”

On a 2019 visit to Israel he declared that “the friends of Israel are the friends of Guatemala, and the enemies of Israel are our enemies.”

Also in 2019, he called the Venezuelan government a “dictatorship” and said he wanted to maintain the same diplomatic line as his predecessor Jimmy Morales toward Venezuela, a country with which Guatemala has severed diplomatic relations.

More recently in the news, the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, has recently returned from a visit to Ukraine, showing solidarity with the people of that nation in their war with Russia.

This was the first visit of a Latin American President to Ukraine in the past 12 years.

On the visit, the Guatemalan President signed a visa-free travel agreement with Ukraine.

Returning from his international visit, the president was traveling his country

The president was traveling through the northwestern state of Huehuetenango in a village named La Laguna near the Mexican border.

His entourage experienced a violent attack on Saturday.

A car approached the presidential entourage and opened fire, engaging the Guatemalan military.

Ruben Tellez, spokesperson for the Guatemalan Army, related the details of the incident to the media.

Tellez related to local media that the soldiers were working on a highway checkpoint to fortify the area before the President’s visit to La Laguna. The gunfire broke out as the vehicle approached the checkpoint.

“Personnel of the Guatemalan Army halted a vehicle that approached the location. the occupants of the vehicle, upon seeing the presence of military personnel, started firing to which the soldiers responded,” Tellez related, as quoted by the Associated Press.

“The area is reportedly frequented by human traffickers and drug smugglers, many of whom work for Mexican gangs,” ABC News noted.

A government statement said that one of the gunmen was a Mexican national and was injured in the legs during the confrontation.

The injured gunman was taken to a local hospital to be treated.

Yesterday, Borderland Beat reported:

“According to the EFE agency, the injured subject is Josue Lopez Velasquez, who has been located as part of the group of assassins who committed the attack [on the Guatemalan President] and, after confronting the military, fled towards the Mexican border. the alleged member is the man shot in the legs. Local authorities arranged for him to be transferred for medical treatment at a regional hospital.”

The others fled in the direction of the Mexican border, about 50 miles away, and a search for them ensued.

The attack is being seen by Guatemala media as an assassination attempt on the head of Guatemala.

As the entourage at the checkpoint was large and official, it is thought that the attackers assumed the president was with that group.

The president, however, was about one to two miles away from the confrontation at the time, in another part of the group.

He was evacuated from the area immediately.

The exact location of the president at the time of the attack has not been released.

“We inform the people of Guatemala and the international community that the president is unharmed and was evacuated from the area in a timely manner,” the government statement said.

Later that day, the Mexican military detained four Guatemalans who were involved in the incident. Along with the suspects, the Mexican officials also found two rifle grenades, reports ADN America.

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