Guatemala: Campaign Season in Full Swing

September is a gray and rainy month in Guatemala. It also marks the month when Independence Day celebrations take place around the country with parades and civic expressions. This year, the upcoming month is especially important because on September 9th, Guatemala will elect a new President, as well as other national and local authorities. Representing different perspectives many bloggers express their thoughts regarding the anticipation of the event by either expressing their views of the candidates or on the campaign itself.

Observers from another country can provide a different form of analysis of the election. Gringologue blog provides analysis in the post titled CON MANO DURA (The Guatemalan Elections p1):

As the elections creep closer with each passing day, these issues are becoming more and more exaggerated. Every day there are more signs, more campaign songs, and more political ugliness. As with any election, scandals big and small have emerged, and more may be revealed as the campaigning gets even more competitive.

The scandals referred to arise from different serious problems, from impunity to links with drug dealers and organized crime. And in most cases, the candidates’ dark shadows emerge providing additional controversy. The term “mano dura,” in reference to an approach to solving the security situation, has been controversial. This is due not only for the message, but for the messenger, which is a former military officer in duty during the armed conflict, when the worst masacres took place.

This is expressed by the blog Huhnapu E Ixbalanque [ES], on his post “Hands Clean“, where he said:

La premisa de que nadie es culpable hasta que no se pruebe lo contrario es aceptable en las cortes, pero no es suficiente para no escrutinar el pasado de alguien que pretende ser el compás moral de un pueblo.

The premise that no one is guilty until proven innocent may be acceptable in the courts, but it is not sufficient to not scrutinize the past of someone that tries to be the moral compass of a nation.

Not only are political campaigns generating controversy, but civic campaigns promoting voting are also raising eyebrows, such as the one that states “if you vote for criminals, you are a criminal“, as discussed by blogger Carpe Diem [ES]. He described the campaign as:

Un intento por evitar que personajes oscuros vinculados al crimen organizado y al narcotráfico lleguen al poder por medio de los comicios del 9 de septiembre.

An attempt to avoid the possibility that dark characters linked with organized crime and narcotrafficking might be elected in the elections of September 9th.

Blog Ordinaria Locura [ES] highlights the content of political messages in her post MACHISTAS Y MIEDOSOS, strongly critizicing the use of sexist comments in attacking the wives of presidential candidates or female candidates.

Desde que la campaña electoral empezó también comenzaron las campañas negras, que a mi en lo personal, ni van ni vienen, pero que de pronto hartan, no sólo por la basura que contienen, sino por la excesiva carga de machismo que conllevan….Se han burlado de todas y cada una de las mujeres que osan ocupar un espacio en la política guatemalteca.

Ever since the start of the electoral campaign, dirty campaigns were present. From my point of view, it is not relevant, but will soon be too much no only for the trash, but also for the excessive “machismo” of its content…They had make fun of them all and each woman that dares to participate in Guatemalan politics.

And the view that there is lack of information necessary to vote is discussed by Un chapín desde el Japón [ES], in his post Elecciones en Guatemala:

Me hubiera gustado ver paginas de internet con perfiles de los grupos de trabajo de los partidos políticos (no solo de sus candidatos); planes de trabajo, en español y la mayoría de lenguas del país. No lo digo pensando en que todos tienen acceso a una computadora e internet, sino mas bien para poderlo obtener y distribuir (bajarlo e imprimir), haciendo llegar esta información a la mayor cantidad de personas posibles. Pareciera ser que mientras menos sabemos, mejor; lo cual es muy peligroso en cualquier democracia”.

I would like to have seen websites with profiles of the work teams of all the political parties (not only of the candidates); work plans, in spanish and in the other languages of the country. I do not think that all have access to computers and internet, but to be able to obtain the information and distribute (download and print), making the information available to as many people as possible. It seems to me that the less we know the better, a dangerous situation in any democracy.

The cities are covered with hundreds of posters and slogans, but some bloggers think it is really hard to find accurate informations and serious proposals from the candidates.

The weak campaign and propaganda is described by blogger Herbert Toaspern, who concluded on Ahh… los diputados [ES]!

Esta elección será recordada como que si fuera un Reality Show, en el que individualmente todos nos dicen con sendas vallas y muchas canciones: “voten por mí”

This election will be remembered as if it was a Reality Show, where each individual are saying to us with posters and a lot of songs: “vote for me”.

Guatemalans are waiting for the elections with expectations. It will be a complex day for a country with complicated past. In addition, there are concerns for security and bad weather is forecasted. Rain will not be good for a country where abstensionism has always been the winner. But let's hope we can show the world and tell the good news on our blogs on September 10th.


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