April 15, 2019
The Guatemala national elections are two months away and there is still some uncertainty over who will make it into the ballot. Let us look into each of the candidates and identify how they might fare in the elections.
First on the list is 63-year-old Thelma Aldana. Becoming attorney general in 2014, Aldana made significant strides in the case that ousted President Otto Perez Molina. She runs for the Seed Movement, a new center-left party with strong anti-corruption advocacy. While this gives her an edge with the youth and middle class, she faces some controversy due to an alleged fraudulent hire she made during her time as attorney general, among other things that forced her to leave Guatemala for some time. Her goals when she attains the presidency include a focus on anti-corruption by strengthening the CICIG (The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala) and support survivors of gender violence.
Running under the National Unity of Hope is the 63-year-old former first lady of the country, Sandra Torres. Being the wife of former President Alvaro Colom does provide an advantage but her support for social programs propelled by the state have made her quite popular. She ran three times for the presidency, which was what caused her to divorce her husband in 2011. She has strong backing from business and local government sectors due to her call for the return of the social programs she endorsed then.
Among the most experienced of the candidates in terms of political exposure, Ríos is the daughter of Efrain Ríos Montt, who rose to power in a coup in 1982 and was convicted of committing genocide in 2012 and has served four consecutive terms in Congress since she was 27. Though the constitution prohibits family members of leaders who wrested power via coups, Ríos is still campaigning for the constitutional court to allow her to run. Most conservative elites and the military support her, primarily due to her family. From her experience as a legislator, her priorities are the restoration of order, particularly in the reinstatement of the death penalty, as well as advocating women’s rights and limiting the use of tobacco.
Like most of the candidates, Giammattei is 63 years of age but is mostly known as a doctor and was a general coordinator in the electoral board in 1985, 1988, and 1989. He was also director of the penitentiary system during the time when a police operation to wrest control of the prison led to the death of seven inmates. He was imprisoned in connection to various abuses committed during his time but was acquitted due to lack of evidence. His focus is to restructure the national civil police and improve the quality of prisons but has criticized the CICIG.
The four candidates are a mixed bag, with some carrying legal controversy over their involvement in questionable activities. However, these candidates aim to bring some needed changes to Guatemala. Voters should surely take note of what they have to offer.