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.
According to 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.