Guatemala has one of the highest rates of violence and violent crime in the region. Even without additional political tensions, Guatemalans face widespread gang violence, extortion and widespread impunity. The country also has the third-highest rate of femicide in the world.

Guatemala National Election 2015


2015 National Elections

Guatemala’s national elections in 2015 came amidst public demonstrations for better, more transparent government, a turbulent time for the country.

The election monitoring group Acción Ciudadana (AC; “Citizen Action”) undertook an observation focused on illuminating not only the realities of campaign finance and corruption, but also electoral violence, with a particular focus on violence against women in elections as well as violence targeting LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) and indigenous communities.

Over the course of the observation, AC, the Guatemalan chapter of Transparency International, was able to collect a great deal of information, in large part because they had created their forms with an intent to capture data that was disaggregated in a number of ways, including gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. In doing so, they created an observation that allowed them to see the effects of several types of marginalization — including the marginalization of women through VAW-E — and analyze their data through an intersectional perspective.

Before the Election

AC deployed observers in 20 municipalities over several months before election day, as well as during the period between election day in September and the run-off election in October. They monitored the campaign spending of political parties, and reported incidents of violence they saw, indicating where those incidents were targeted at women, LGBTI or indigenous persons.

Election Day

On election day, observers remained stationed in the same 20 municipalities, reporting to AC about the forms of violence they witnessed and who the victims and perpetrators were.

About the Observation

In its observation of the 2015 Guatemalan national elections, Acción Ciudadana conducted an observation throughout the pre-election period, as well as election day, the day of the run-off presidential election, and the period between the initial election day and the run-off.

Observers were stationed in 20 municipalities across Guatemala, chosen for their history or likelihood of violence, particularly during elections. Observers in the pre-election monitoring effort sent regular reports to AC that recorded any violence that they had personally witnessed, as well as incidents of violence that were reported to them by formal committees of community leaders that they had organized, with whom they met to collect further reports of violence.

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Electoral violence undermines democratic elections, which are a cornerstone of democratic governance. Violence against women in elections is a particular form of electoral violence, motivated by a desire to prevent women from participating in the electoral process, which sees women attacked for daring to participate in elections. Learn More About Votes Without Violence