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Guatemala: The Challenges for the Next President

Photo by Renata Avila

In Sunday's run-off election in Guatemala, it is predicted that Alvaro Colom Caballeros is the virtual winner at this time according to the results of the TSE. Illegal trafficking of drugs, extreme corruption, and organized crimes are only a few of the issues that the new president of Guatemala will face.

According to The Black Box [ES] blogger the next President will have a tough task:

Además de combatir la pobreza y la inseguridad, el Presidente electo deberá lidiar con un Congreso sumamente fragmentado. Su partido, la UNE, sólo cuenta con 51 diputados de un total de 158. Es decir, el 32 por ciento de la Asamblea Legislativa

Besides fighting poverty and insecurity, the elected President will have to face a fragmented Congress. His party, UNE only has 51 congressmen of 158. That is 32 % of the Congress.

In addition to the votes dividing rural and urban areas, Guatemala is a country in transition with scars from the past and slow development. There is always such utopian possibility of a better future, even in the country with complex problems and bloggers express hope.

Colom's victory was a surprise for many people, as Buried Mirror blog asserted:

Alvaro Colom, in something of an upset, apparently has defeated Otto Pérez Molina in the race for president of Guatemala. Colom had lost his one-time lead and was trailing in most polls. Colom took most departments, although Perez appears to have won Guatemala City, thanks to his anti-crime message. Turn-out was low.

The day of the elections was calm, cold and windy. There was a large number of Guatemalans that stayed home from the polls, and the elected President won mainly in the rural areas but not in the city. Here I compiled all the questions, all the requests, all the demands and needs that Guatemalan bloggers would like to let the new President to know:

The message of CIEN blog [ES] is exhorting people to respect the results of the elections, he said:

Cuestionar la legitimidad de quien resulte vencedor o la limpieza de las elecciones en anda ayuda a la estabilidad política del país. Además que, probablemente, no estemos preparados para ese tipo de escenario dado el desgaste institucional que ha sufrido recientemente el TSE. Dado que no se puede descartar un escenario en donde la diferencia entre uno y otro candidato sea mínima, corresponde a los candidatos y sus partidos mostrar la madurez y responsabilidad que el caso amerita.

To question the legitimacy of who might be elected or the transparency of the elections will not help the political stability of the country. Also, we are probably not prepared for such a scenario given the poor image of the TSE recently. Given the fact that we cannot dismiss a situation where the difference between one candidate and the other will be small, is up to the candidates and their parties to show the maturity and responsibility of the case.

Blogger Homo Homini Lupus [ES] will like to know whether the next President will negotiate with “narcos” :

Mañana decidiremos quién será el hombre que se hincará en algún palacio en el oriente del país y rendirá pleitecía a los grandes narcos que se encargan de dar las fiestas de pueblos y cabeceras con regalos que “Don X” entrega desde avionetas cada año. ¿Cuando estaremos listos para empezar a dar los nombres de “Don X”? ¿Cuándo reconoceremos que Guatemala es tan caudillista como lo fue durante el gobierno liberal del s. XIX? Claro, la excepción ahora es que ya no hay fiestas de Minerva sino, las fiestas son en Huite, Jutiapa y Zacapa.

Tomorrow we will decide who will be the man on his knees in some mansion in the orient of the country, pleasing the big drug dealers that provide parties in towns and places where Don X gives presents from a small plane each year. When will we be ready to give names to “Mr X”? When will we recognize that Guatemala is so “caudilista” as it was during the liberal government in the XIX century? But of course, the difference is that nowadays there is no party in Minerva but parades in Huite, Jutiapa and Zacapa.

Blog Cachacero [ES] says:

Haber que nos esperan en estos cuatro años mas, ojala no sean cuatro años mas de atraso ni que continúe este gobierno tan desorganizado y tan malo como el que tuvimos ahora.

Lets see what will be our destiny the next four years, I hope there will be no more under-development or a disorganized government as bad as the one we just had.

Blogger Guate360 [ES] wants on his post dedicated to the next President the demands of Guatemalans:

1. Que el crimen organizado se mantenga alejado de las instituciones públicas, siendo a su vez perseguido de manera incansable.
2. Que el crimen organizado y la delincuencia común sientan temor de la ley, devolviendo a los guatemaltecos el valor de sus vidas, la tranquilidad y ahuyentando la psicosis colectiva que ha invadido nuestra sociedad.
3. Que la totalidad de la población goce de acceso a los servicios básicos de educación, salud y seguridad.
4. Que el presupuesto general de la nación sea distribuido sabiamente a las instituciones que puedan solventar las necesidades más fuertes de nuestro país.
5. Que la generación de empleos sea prioridad, enfocándose en la productividad del país para que este atraiga inversiones, principalmente, repatriando y conservando capitales, y posteriormente, atrayendo capitales extranjeros hacia actividades que no demuestren como nuestra única ventaja competitiva, el bajo costo de mano de obra no calificada.
6. Que el Gobierno central funcione en total austeridad.

1. That organized crime be far from the control of public institutions and prosecuted without restraints

2. That organized crime and criminality will fear the rule of law, giving back to the citizens the value of their lives, peace by freeing them from the collective psicosis they live nowadays.

3. That the entire population may access education, health care and security.

4. That the Guatemalan general Budget will be distributed wisely among institutions that can solve the urgent needs of the country.

5. That the creation of jobs will be a priority, focusing on the productivity of the country so we can attract investors to the activities that focuses more on our cheap labor

6. That the central government functions with total austerity.

As elected President, Colom made his first statements, according to Blog Democracia Multicultural [ES]:

Dijo: “Hay una deuda histórica con los pueblos indígenas que debe ser atendida.

He said: “There is a historical debt with indigenous peoples that has to be attended to”.

The elected President defined himself as democrat, according Cronicas Efimeras [ES] who said:

Esperemos que este nuevo viraje sirva para enfocarse más en el rezago de las masas

Let's hope that the new orientation might help to focus on the under-development of the majority

Proudly I can said that our democracy is working and that Guatemala is an example of peaceful elections, of transparency and accountability of the results where new media played an important role. This democratic process left us as legacy a peaceful way to change authorities, and some illusions of a better future.


  • Steve Burger

    Guatemala is again a land of much hope…and many challanges. While recovering from the worlds longest and often forgotten civil war it has made many steps to a peaceful and more prosperous life for its long suffering people. The extent of violence, drug trafficing, organized crime and gangs is far beyond what most poeple hear. To fight this and develop a functioning civil society will be very, very difficult. The new president has said that he intends to “… convert Guatemala into a scial-democratic country with a Mayan face.” This is wonderful but will be difficult in a country that is verydivided by religion, class and culture; the countryside is largely Mayan while the people in the cities are identified as Ladino and often see things quite differently.

  • I completely agree, Renata. Despite all the problems I can say that I am proud to be a Guatemalan citizen. All my life I have known a democratic Guatemala. Soon the country will be led by people that have known freedom instead of war.

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