Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Regulations: SOR/2024-23

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 158, Number 5

SOR/2024-23 February 15, 2024


P.C. 2024-130 February 15, 2024

Whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in the Republic of Guatemala;

And whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that a national of the Republic of Guatemala who is a foreign public official, or an associate of such an official, is responsible for or complicit in ordering, controlling or otherwise directing acts of significant corruption;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, makes the annexed Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Regulations under paragraph 4(1)(a)footnote a and subsections 4(1.1)footnote b, (2)footnote c and (3) of the Special Economic Measures Act footnote d.

Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Regulations



1 The following definitions apply in these Regulations.

means the Republic of Guatemala and includes
  • (a) any of its political subdivisions;
  • (b) its government, any of its departments and any government and department of its political subdivisions; and
  • (c) any of its agencies and any agency of its political subdivisions. (Guatemala)
means the Minister of Foreign Affairs. (ministre)


Listed person

2 A person whose name is listed in the schedule is a person who is in Guatemala, or is or was a national of Guatemala who does not ordinarily reside in Canada, and in respect of whom the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe is


Prohibited dealings and activities

3 It is prohibited for any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada to


4 Section 3 does not apply in respect of

Assisting in prohibited activity

5 It is prohibited for any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada to knowingly do anything that causes, facilitates or assists in, or is intended to cause, facilitate or assist in, any activity prohibited by section 3.

Duty to determine

6 The following entities must determine on a continuing basis whether they are in possession or control of property that is owned — or that is held or controlled, directly or indirectly — by a listed person:

Duty to disclose

7 (1) Every person in Canada, every Canadian outside Canada and every entity set out in section 6 must disclose without delay to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or to the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service


(2) No proceedings under the Special Economic Measures Act and no civil proceedings lie against a person for a disclosure made in good faith under subsection (1).


Removal from list

8 (1) A listed person may apply to the Minister in writing to have their name removed from the schedule.

Reasonable grounds

(2) On receipt of an application, the Minister must decide whether there are reasonable grounds to recommend the removal to the Governor in Council.

New application

9 If there has been a material change in circumstances since the last application was submitted, a listed person may submit another application under section 8.

Mistaken identity

10 (1) A person whose name is the same as or similar to the name of a listed person and who claims not to be that person may apply to the Minister in writing for a certificate stating that they are not that listed person.

Determination by Minister

(2) Within 30 days after the day on which the Minister receives the application, the Minister must

Application Before Publication


11 For the purpose of paragraph 11(2)(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act, these Regulations apply according to their terms before they are published in the Canada Gazette.

Coming into Force


12 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.


(Section 2 and subsection 8(1))



(This statement is not part of the Regulations or the Order.)


Regulations pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) are required to allow Canada to respond to acts of significant corruption and gross and systematic human rights violations in Guatemala.

Entrenched corruption and human rights violations have worsened in Guatemala in recent years. The situation took a serious downturn during the 2023 electoral process under the former Guatemalan administration when corrupt public officials worked to consolidate their control over the judicial processes (including via bribery) and undermine the election results. Although the democratically elected government has been successfully inaugurated, corrupt public officials continue to direct acts of corruption, such as attempting to obstruct the new administration’s ability to govern.


The SEMA allows Canada to impose sanctions in four situations: when a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred and has resulted in, or is likely to result in, a serious international crisis; when an international organization calls on members to impose sanctions; when circumstances of gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed; or when acts of significant corruption have been committed. There are a broad range of prohibitions that can be imposed, including a dealings ban on individuals/entities and restrictions on trade or financial transactions. Listed individuals are also rendered inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

For many years, Guatemala has been grappling with entrenched corruption, alarming levels of impunity and gross human rights violations against justice actors, human rights defenders, and journalists. The 2019 unilateral termination of the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an office backed by the United Nations to investigate and prosecute serious crime in Guatemala, marked a critical downturn in the country’s efforts to fight corruption. The administration under former President Alejandro Giammattei (in power from 2020–2024) continued down a concerning trajectory by systemically targeting anti-corruption activists, replacing independent judges from all levels of Guatemala’s courts to weaken the judicial branch, and reappointing Attorney General Maria Consuelo Porras. As Attorney General, Porras authorized other corrupt prosecutors in the Public Ministry to block investigations into corruption cases, bring arbitrary proceedings against independent journalists and prosecutors, and tamper with evidence in cases.

These tactics were key in the former Government of Guatemala’s efforts to control the 2023 electoral process. In the second round of the elections, Bernardo Arévalo (Semilla Party), an anti-corruption, anti-establishment candidate, won in an unforeseen victory.

In the months following the 2023 election, the Giammattei administration, Attorney General Porras, and the Public Ministry worked to reverse Arévalo’s victory through a variety of judicial and administrative actions, including the unlawful search and seizure of election materials; targeted arrests and investigations against Arévalo when he was president-elect and against Karin Herrera when she was vice president-elect; and intimidation and alleged bribery of judicial, congressional and electoral officials.

Although Arévalo was successfully inaugurated in January 2024, corrupt public officials have continued to undermine Arévalo and his Government. Several public officials targeting Arévalo and his party have been appointed until 2026 and will remain in their positions regardless of the change in administration. The baseless legal challenges against Arévalo have continued, as the judicial branch and courts are still populated by corrupt public officials who were appointed by the previous administrations. Additionally, it is expected that Attorney General Porras and other prosecutors will continue their efforts to target and silence independent journalists and members of the press.

The Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Regulations (the Regulations) serve as a new and complementary tool to support Canada’s ongoing efforts to pressure Guatemala to respect its democratic commitments. The Regulations will allow Canada to target sanctions at individuals engaged in corruption and gross human rights violations, including undemocratic public officials who have already attempted and/or continue to attempt to prevent President Arévalo from fulfilling his mandate.

The Regulations align with existing Government of Canada’s actions. Canada has issued public messaging about its concerns with human rights and corrupt acts in Guatemala. Canada has also been active through co-sponsoring resolutions and making interventions through the Organization of American States, calling the former Guatemalan administration to respect the rule of law and democracy. The Regulations are also consistent with Canada’s commitment to strengthen compliance with international law and treaties, thereby reinforcing the importance of an effective rules-based international system.



The Regulations establish a new sanctions regime related to Guatemala and list four individuals in the Schedule who will be subject to a broad dealings ban. There are reasonable grounds to believe the four designated individuals have engaged in acts of significant corruption and gross and systematic human rights violations.

Any individual or entity in Canada and Canadians and Canadian entities outside Canada are thereby prohibited from dealing in the property of, entering into transactions with, providing financial or related services to, transferring property to, or otherwise making goods available to listed persons.

There are certain exemptions to the prohibitions in the Regulations, including an exception for transactions with international organizations providing humanitarian assistance and exceptions related to payments under pre-existing contracts or loan agreements to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada.

The Regulations also create a duty for Canadians (including businesses, such as banks and cooperative credit associations) to determine and disclose whether they are in possession or control of property belonging to a listed person.

Under the Regulations, listed persons may apply to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (the Minister) to have their name removed from the Schedule of designated persons. The Minister must determine whether there are reasonable grounds to make a recommendation to the Governor in Council for removal.

The Regulations are accompanied by a Permit Authorization Order. The Order authorizes the Minister to issue permits to individuals and entities in Canada, and Canadians outside Canada, to carry out activities or transactions otherwise prohibited by the Regulations.

Regulatory development


Global Affairs Canada engages regularly with relevant stakeholders in Guatemala, including civil society organizations and other like-minded governments, regarding Canada’s response to the situation in Guatemala, including sanctions implementation. As an example, Canada currently holds the presidency pro tempore of the Group of Donor Countries to Guatemala (G13) and is an active member state at the Organization of American States (OAS); these platforms are used to discuss the challenges facing the country and coordinate potential international responses.

Public consultation on the persons being listed under the Regulations would not have been appropriate. Publicizing the names of the persons targeted by sanctions would have potentially resulted in asset flight prior to the coming into force of the Regulations.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

An initial assessment of the geographical scope of the initiative was conducted and did not identify any modern treaty obligations, as the regime does not take effect in a modern treaty area.

Instrument choice

Regulations are the sole method to enact sanctions in Canada. No other instrument could be considered.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

While Guatemala is Canada’s largest trade partner in the region, it is unlikely that the Regulations will have an impact on trade and investments. Canada’s exports to Guatemala are valued at $253 million (2022), with the highest value exports in cereals, fertilizers, and paper sectors, while Canada’s imports from Guatemala are valued at $806 million (2022), with the highest import values in the fruit, coffee, and sugar sectors.

Sanctions targeting specific persons have less impact on Canadian businesses than traditional broad-based sanctions and will have limited impact on the citizens of the countries of the listed persons. Based on the initial assessment of available open-source information, it is believed that the individuals listed have limited linkages with Canada and, therefore, do not have significant business dealings relevant to the Canadian economy. It is therefore anticipated that there will be no significant impacts on Canadian businesses as a result of these Regulations.

Canadian banks and financial institutions are required to comply with the sanctions. They will do so by adding the new prohibitions to their existing monitoring systems, which may result in a minor compliance cost.

The Regulations support democracy and the rule of law in the region and globally. Due to Canada’s strong ties to Guatemala, in terms of trade, bilateral programs, and the size of the diaspora, it is in Canada’s interest to support social and economic stability in Guatemala.

Small business lens

With respect to the individuals listed under the Regulations, analysis under the small business lens concluded that the Regulations will not impact Canadian small businesses. The Regulations do not impose any new compliance or administrative burden on small businesses in Canada. The Regulations prohibit Canadian businesses from dealing with, providing services to, or otherwise making goods available to listed persons, but do not create obligations related to them. While Canadian businesses may seek permits under the Regulations, they are granted on an exceptional basis, and Global Affairs Canada does not anticipate any applications resulting from listing these individuals.

One-for-one rule

The one-for-one rule does not apply, as there is no incremental change in the administrative burden on businesses. The permitting process for businesses meets the definition of “administrative burden” in the Red Tape Reduction Act; however, while permits may be granted under the Regulations on an exceptional basis, given that the listed individuals have limited business ties to the Canadian economy, Global Affairs Canada does not anticipate any permit applications with respect to the Regulations.

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

While the Regulations are not related to a work plan or commitment under a formal regulatory cooperation forum, they align with actions taken by like-minded partners. Sanctions are most effective when they are applied in a coordinated manner. Several like-minded countries are also pursuing sanctions in response to the corrupt actions and human rights violations that have occurred during the 2023 electoral process. The United States has been active in imposing sanctions and visa restrictions against Guatemala in the past several months. Most recently, the United States imposed additional sanctions following the inauguration on January 14, 2024. On January 12, 2024, the European Union established a framework for restrictive measures in support of democracy and orderly transfer of power in Guatemala.

Strategic environmental assessment

The Regulations are unlikely to result in important environmental effects. In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.

Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)

The subject of economic sanctions has previously been assessed for effects on gender and diversity. Although intended to facilitate a change in behaviour through economic pressure on individuals and entities in foreign states, sanctions under the SEMA can nevertheless have an unintended indirect impact on certain vulnerable groups and individuals. Rather than affecting Guatemalans as a whole, these targeted sanctions would directly impact only those listed individuals. Therefore, these sanctions are unlikely to have a significant negative indirect impact on vulnerable groups as compared to traditional broad-based economic sanctions directed toward a state and limit the collateral effects to those dependent on those targeted individuals.

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards

The Regulations come into force on the day they are registered.

Consequential to being listed in the Regulations, and pursuant to the application of paragraph 35.1(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the listed individuals would be inadmissible to Canada.

The names of the listed individuals will be available online for financial institutions to review and will be added to the Consolidated Canadian Autonomous Sanctions List. This will help to facilitate compliance with the Regulations.

Under the SEMA, both Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canada Border Services Agency officers have the power to enforce sanctions violations through their authorities, as defined under the Customs Act, the Excise Act or the Excise Act, 2001, and sections 487 to 490, 491.1 and 491.2 of the Criminal Code.

In accordance with section 8 of the SEMA, every person who knowingly contravenes or fails to comply with the Regulations is liable, upon summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both; or, upon conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.


Carolyn Knobel
Executive Director
Central America, Cuba and the Dominican Republic
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G2
Telephone: 343‑203‑7040
Email: carolyn.knobel@international.gc.ca