Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, a doctor and retired surgeon, announced Nov. 2 that the country’s interior ministry was rescinding an agreement to allow Planned Parenthood to operate in the Central American country.
“I recognize life from its conception, and therefore, in my government, I will not tolerate any movement that violates what is provided in our political Constitution of the Republic, that goes against the values with which I was raised and that conflicts with my principles as [a] doctor,” Giammattei said in a statement. “I am a faithful defender of life and I am empathetic in stating that I will not endorse in my government the creation, registration or startup of any organization that goes against life.”
Oliverio Garcia Rodas, interior minister for Guatemala, initially approved the agreement with Planned Parenthood last month. But Giammattei’s press secretary said that the president was neither consulted nor made aware of the arrangement.
“It was not until the publication of the NGO’s authorization that the president became aware of the error of authorizing an organization whose social aim is to attack the right to life, which, among other things, the state of Guatemala must safeguard,” Masek told VICE News.
Once Rodas’ actions came to light, and Giammattei’s disapproval was apparent, Rodas resigned.
“Oliverio García Rodas, taking responsibility, informed me in the evening that he had made the decision to resign due to the error he had committed and considering that it was strongly opposed,” Giammattei stated.
Under current law in Guatemala, abortion is illegal except in cases when the mother is facing a life-threatening medical emergency. The third article of the Guatemalan Constitution states the country “guarantees and protects human life from its conception.”
“I reiterate the government’s commitment to respect life from conception, since it is something that my faith and the Political Constitution of the Republic profess,” Giammattei told the press.
Pro-life advocates thanked Giammattei “for his firm statement” defending life and safeguarding “the lives of Guatemalans from conception, as established in our Magna Carta.”
Above: Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei sings the national anthem during an Independence Day celebration in Guatemala City on Sept. 14.
Photo: AP Photo/Moises Castillo