Guatemalans in the US ask the TSE to correct the plan and facilitate the vote in the second round

Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor

Global Courant

Migrants in the US made a formal request to the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Irma Palencia, so that the errors of the first electoral round can be amended, in view of the ballot, so that in this way the right to vote is facilitated.

Despite the fact that the electoral roll of Guatemalans residing in that country exceeds 90,000, in the election on June 25, only 1,443 were able to vote.

Long before the electoral process was called, the organizations insisted that there should be greater promotion to register, which should have been accompanied by measures to facilitate access to DPI for the population.

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However, Guatemalans in the US also attribute the low turnout to multiple errors in the distribution of the voter rolls at polling stations in that country.

On the day of the vote, public complaints abounded from Guatemalans who pointed out that they had been assigned a polling station in a city very distant from the one they registered with the TSE, in some cases up to a nine-hour drive away, or even assigned others to a polling center in the Guatemalan capital.

send letter

On July 4, the Vote for Guatemalans Resident Abroad (Voguare) movement sent a letter to the president of the TSE with observations from the first round and suggestions for implementation in the second, which will take place on August 20.

Among these, they asked the electoral authority to confirm “immediately” the location of the voting centers and to establish a massive information campaign to publicize them as soon as possible.

“We hope that the TSE makes sure to immediately inform the community of the location of the voting centers and that they do not change them at the last minute,” said Ben Monterroso, president of Voguare.

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In his opinion, the electoral roll and its distribution should also be corrected, which was “one of the most harmful errors” that prevented more Guatemalans from voting. “If they correct it, it could be the difference so that many more people participate because there is interest,” he assured.

Monterroso affirmed that the organization that he presides continues to inform and encourage the migrant community to participate and they have noticed that the Guatemalan is willing to participate.

Pessimism

However, Guatemalans in that country are not very optimistic that there may be actions other than those that took place in the first round to facilitate voting in the US.

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In part, they point out, because if they weren’t done in three and a half years, they won’t be done in a month either. In addition, they recall that the TSE itself qualified the process positively and that magistrate Gabriel Aguilera said that the low participation “has to do with the fact that the Guatemalans who are there do not want to exercise it.”

“The logical thing would have been that the TSE would have started to provide information on the Monday or Tuesday after the election, but we have heard absolutely nothing from them and by now it is too late for them to do anything,” said Juan Carlos Pocasangre, a migrant leader who lives in New York, a state where there were two voting centers, but where only 144 people cast their votes.

The main problem, in the opinion of Pocasangre, is that many people who are registered do not have DPI and the appointments to process this document at the Guatemalan consulate in that State of the American Union “continue to take a long time.” “Here the problem will not be solved until they put five or six offices outside the consulate to process passports and DPI because they cannot cope,” he added.

it was not apathy

Gabriela Álvarez also lives in the US and considers that the “failure” of the first round was not due to the indifference of the Guatemalans. She agreed that, facing the second round, she has not heard any campaign to encourage voting abroad either. “They haven’t done anything and I don’t think they will do anything,” she said.

Álvarez rejected the fact that the low participation was due to low interest and rather considers that if the migrants had information and the facilities they would go en masse to vote. “The migrant is not considered a Guatemalan, he is seen as someone who does not count, the only thing they are reminded of is when remittances arrive,” he reproached.

He also indicated that the delay in consulates to manage a document, at least in New York, persists. There are thousands who intended to vote, but were unable to do so because they did not have the DPI in time to register, he said.

Turnout abroad, as in the 2019 election, was low. A thousand 443 Guatemalans cast their vote, when it is estimated that almost 4 million reside in that country. (Photo: Courtesy)

“There were many obstacles for the electoral process to be efficient and they spent a lot of money for a pathetic result,” Álvarez lamented.

Guillermo del Bosque, executive secretary of the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Migrants, also finds it difficult to improve the voting conditions for compatriots in the second round “since they did not do a good job of logistics, coordination, and publicity regarding the call to vote” for the elections on June 25.

“As a Guatemalan migrant community in the US, we constitute one of the sectors with the greatest contribution to the country’s economy, for which we demand respect and responsibility from the TSE in the second round,” he stressed.

The Electoral Board for Voting Abroad did not respond to a request for comment from Prensa Libre.

The TSE Communication Office reported that the voting centers will remain in the 15 cities where the first round was held, and that the electoral roll used in the first cannot change.

Guatemalans in the US ask the TSE to correct the plan and facilitate the vote in the second round

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