How do Guatemalans in LA feel about newly elected Bernardo Arévalo?

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“People are really sick and tired of an establishment that has not ruled with them in mind, but for their own benefit,” says Eric Olson of what drove Guatemala to elect Bernardo Arévalo as president. Photo by Shutterstock.

Last week Guatemala elected a new president, Bernardo Arévalo. He’s the son of former Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo, and centered his campaign on anti-corruption and political reform. The election is being closely watched by many people in Los Angeles, the city with the largest Guatemalan population outside of Guatemala. 

Francisco Caceres runs a food truck across from the Guatemalan consulate in Elysian Park. He says he has high hopes for Arévalo. “He had a marvelous father that did a lot for Guatemala. But we don’t want him to be liked because of his father. He has to do something for himself so that Guatemala likes him.”

Eric Olson, director of policy and strategic initiatives at Seattle International Foundation (SIF), says Arévalo gained moral and political credibility when he founded the Semilla Movement. It was born out of an anti-corruption movement in 2015. 

“When you drive around Guatemala City, it looks very successful except that it's desperately poor in the countryside and around the peripheries of the cities,” Olson explains. “And people are really sick and tired of an establishment that has not ruled with them in mind, but for their own benefit.” 

When Arévalo takes office in January 2024, Olson expects he’ll face a lot of challenges, but the public largely backs him. “He has the support of the people, the Indigenous people, young people, people of all economic classes and educational levels. And I think that's what he's going to have to utilize to push back against this very corrupt system of governance that's developed there over the years.”



  • Eric Olson - director of policy and strategic initiatives, Seattle International Foundation