Brazil’s Lula warns United Nations of coup risk in Guatemala

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UNITED NATIONS: Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva warned world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday (Sep 19) of the prospect of a coup in Guatemala, echoing US concerns about risks to democracy in the Central American country after last month’s election.

“In Guatemala, there is a risk of a coup, which would impede the inauguration of the winner of democratic elections,” Lula told the UN General Assembly.

Last week, the top prosecutor’s office in Guatemala raided electoral facilities and opened sealed ballots from the election, in which anti-graft President-elect Bernardo Arevalo and his Semilla Party overwhelmingly came out on top. Prosecutors allege irregularities in the registration of Semilla members ahead of the vote, which the party has denied.

The US ambassador to the Organization of American States, Francisco Mora, urged Guatemalan authorities on Monday to end their “intimidation efforts” targeting election officials and members of Arevalo’s party.

Mora called the raid “an assault on the rule of law”.

Arevalo last week suspended his participation in the transition of power until “necessary institutional (and) political conditions are reestablished.”

Lula’s comments on Guatemala were surprisingly in line with Washington for a leader who has not always seen eye-to-eye with the United States.

In his UN speech, he said his government would continue to speak out against the US trade embargo against Cuba. He also called for the peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine through dialogue, and criticised military spending.

Lula said the continued conflict in Ukraine was evidence of the loss of credibility of the UN Security Council, and he slammed multilateral institutions for failing to advance global peace and reduce poverty.

He also attacked the International Monetary Fund for not representing poor countries and the World Trade Organization for not averting increased protectionism in the world.

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