Guatemala. In the decisive round of the presidential
election on November 6, Otto Pérez Molina won for Partido
Patriota (PP) with 54% of the votes over Manuel Baldizón for
Libertad Democrática Renovada (LIDER). Although Pérez lost
in the countryside and only managed to win in fewer than
half of the country's 22 provinces, he secured the victory
by winning in the largest, the province of Guatemala around
the capital, where 13% of the electorate lives. Voter
turnout was a record-high 61%, despite dramatic weather
events with tropical downpours. What decided in Pérez's
favor were probably his promises to toughen the crime and to
halve the murder statistics in four years, which in
Guatemala is 41 murders per 100,000 population.
Countryaah official site, grassroots organizations and human rights groups had also
expressed great concern during the election campaign for the
militarization of society given that Pérez is a former
general. Pérez himself pointed out that he represented the
more moderate branch of the armed forces and was one of the
advocates of the 1996 peace agreement, which ended a
decades-long civil war, and that during his time as adviser
to former President Óscar Berger (2004-08) military budget.
He also promised the formation of a new Ministry of Social
Affairs and that social reforms would be implemented to
reduce poverty in the country comprising 65% of the
population. The critics pointed out that the new police
organization proposed by Pérez would in part consist of army
units, which is contrary to the 1996 peace agreement.
At the same time, Pérez will face a highly divided
congress. In the September 11 parliamentary elections,
however, Pérez PP became the largest party with 57 seats.
But the majority in the House belongs to dozens of other
parties, which certainly did not constitute a unified
opposition bloc, but the government will still be forced to
use temporary majorities on individual issues.
In June, General Héctor Mario López Fuentes, arrested for
genocide and human rights crimes during the 1960-96 civil
war, was arrested, and in November President Álvaro Colom
decided to extradite former President Alfonso Portillo
(2000-04) to face trial money laundering.