By Rocío Gómez[1]
September 2023

On August 20, 2023, Guatemalans elected their new President, Mr. Bernardo Arévalo, from the political party called “Movimiento Semilla” (Seed Movement). In his platform,[2] which shares the same name as his party, he outlines ten objectives that he believes will serve as the “seeds” to revitalize the country and Guatemalan society. These objectives cover areas such as social assistance, social security, the fight against hunger, and environmental conservation. Mr. Arévalo has identified himself as a progressive social democrat in terms of his political stance.

Regarding potential legislation for the protection of unborn persons, the new president, in numerous interviews during his presidential campaign,[3] firmly stated that he would not modify the penal law on abortion. He argued that the current wording of the law protects both the life of the unborn child and the life of the mother. Despite these claims, his overall political approach raises doubts about the strength of his position.

In his political proposal, he talks about a new “social pact” in four fundamental areas: education, the environment, health, and development. He also proposes “the development of an agreement based on a process of constitutional review and renewal (emphasis added), which would allow us to identify the fundamental consensus necessary for the construction of a democratic state.”[4] This would, in more concrete terms, involve constitutional amendments and the creation of a constituent assembly. This raises questions since Guatemala is currently one of the few countries that explicitly protects the right to life from conception in its constitution.[5] Constitutional revision could jeopardize this fundamental protection.

On the other hand, Deputy Andrea Villagrán, a member of the “Movimiento Semilla,” introduced bill 6157[6] on Comprehensive Sexuality Education in October 2022, in which she aims to promote awareness of the sexual and reproductive rights of every citizen. However, this bill raises some concerns, as sexual and reproductive rights are often used as euphemisms to promote abortion. What is even more alarming about this bill is that its explanatory statement sets the objective of “Achieving a global fertility rate of 2 children per woman by 2025, to contribute to improving their health and that of their family.[7] This objective, part of the National Development Plan K’atun: Our Guatemala 2032, not only goes against women’s sexual and reproductive rights but also suggests a clear intent to reduce fertility. This raises the question of how they plan to achieve this goal, which may involve measures like widespread distribution of contraceptives, sterilization of women and men, even young people of reproductive age, and, of course, abortion pills.

Another action that casts doubt on the stance on the right to life is related to bill 5494. This bill aimed to decriminalize abortion before 12 weeks of pregnancy. Although the bill did not receive enough votes to become law, two deputies from the “Movimiento Semilla” expressed their support of the bill. This indicates that the defense of the right to life of the unborn is not among the fundamental values upheld by the political party of the current president.

Finally, before the elections, the Guatemalan organization “Asociación la Familia Importa” (Family Matters Association) lobbied the presidential candidates and national deputy candidates of the political parties participating in the elections for the 2024–2028 period to sign the “Declaración Familia y Vida” (Family and Life Declaration).[8] The Family and Life Declaration is a public commitment to the principles established in the Political Constitution of the Republic, legislation, and international human rights treaties ratified by Guatemala. These principles include the protection of human life from conception to natural death, the family, composed of a marriage between a man and a woman, and freedom. It also commits the candidates to actively work on issues such as eradicating violence and hunger, and provide access to basic health and education services as part of its protection of human life. More than 20 political parties participated in signing this declaration. However, the “Movimiento Semilla” was notably absent and did not participate in signing the declaration.

The future of Guatemala’s policy regarding the right to life remains uncertain. The nation awaits to see if Guatemala will continue to be a “Light to the Nations” and if it will continue to honor the title bestowed upon it by its former leader, “Capital Pro Vida Iberoamericana” (Ibero-American Pro-Life Capital).[9]

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[1] Senior Fellow Latin America, Americans United for Life.

[2] Government Plan 2024-2028 “Movimiento Semilla.” Full text available at:

[3] Interviews available at:;

[4] Government Plan 2024-2028 “Movimiento Semilla.” Full text available at:

[5] Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala. Article 3: The State guarantees and protects human life from conception, as well as the integrity and security of the person. Full text available at:$FILE/5_pdfsam_ConstitucionPoliticadelaRepublicadeGuatemala.pdf

[6] Text of the bill and explanatory statement available at:

[7] Ibid.

[8] Regarding the Family and Life Declaration and the signing parties:

[9] News from the Congress of the Republic, “Guatemala, light to the nations”