It was a huge surprise in the first round, and it happened again in the final ballot of the presidential election. Guatemala.
Bernardo Arévalo, a progressive candidate who bucked the conservative trend of the previous administration and claimed to be “Anti-Corruption Candidate” He will leave the traditional political class behind, easily winning Sunday’s election with 58% of the vote.
his opponent, the former first lady Sandra TorresThe UNE candidate for the third time in a row with 37 percent of the vote, the group was created as a social democratic party but has since veered to a pronounced conservatism, representing the continuity of the current government.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the election results, fed up with multiple allegations of state corruption and claiming they saw a worsening system and greater authoritarianism in Guatemala’s government in recent years than in Arevalo. hope for change.
“People are shouting ‘enough is enough of corruption’ (…). We will strive to safeguard institutions that have earned their trust (…). This victory belongs to the people, and now, together, the people of Guatemala, we will fight corruption. ’” Arevalo said in his first appearance since learning of his victory, in which he referred to his future term as a “new government. Spring.”
“I congratulate Bernardo Arevalo and invite the start of an orderly transition the day after the results are officially announced,” the current president tweeted. Alejandro Giamatel.
Arevalo’s victory on Sunday came after weeks of uncertainty about his ability to actually participate and eventually become president by the deadline of Jan. 14, 2024.
The reason is that since his surprise run into the second round of elections, his Semira Movement party has been under investigation by the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office for alleged irregularities in the creation of the party. Some judges included in list of “corrupt and undemocratic officials” come from America.
Although the Constitutional Court has stopped the party’s suspension, Rafael Curruchiche, head of the special prosecutor’s office against impunity, insisted on Thursday that there was evidence that “after 20 August, They must register to suspend the party.” match,” Semira assured.
Arevalo responded Sunday that he was “calm” in the face of what he called a “witch hunt of corrupt selection judges” designed to “intimidate” his candidacy. “We think the strength of this victory will clearly show Attempts to disrupt the electoral process will not take place”, he claimed.
Who is Bernardo Arevalo?
A 64-year-old sociologist and former diplomat, he is the son of Juan Jose Arevalo, Guatemala’s first democratically elected president after the 1944 revolution.
his father went into exile when he was president Jacob Arbenz He was overthrown after the US military intervention in 1954, so Bernardo Arevalo ended up being born in Uruguay — which was used against him by his opponents during the campaign — and returned to Guatemala with his family as a teenager.
During his career, he served as Consul to Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister to Israel, and Ambassador to Spain, among other positions.
He is currently the congressional representative of the Movimiento Semilla party, which first emerged as an analytical group after protests in 2015 led to the resignation of the then-president. Otto Perez Molina, It was riddled with political corruption scandals, for which he was eventually convicted.
Arevalo is first candidate to run for chair since former attorney general’s race in 2019 Selma Aldana It was ultimately not approved by electoral authorities.
“He is not the first leftist to rise to power in the democratic arena: Ironically, Sandra Torres’ ex-husband, the Social Democrat Álvaro Colom, has already done so. Revalo does have a more progressive stance,” he said. Jahlil DabroyGuatemalan Association for Studies and Social Studies (ASIES).
His ideology has been rejected by economic elites and groups traditionally in power. Many of his opponents described Arevalo as a “communist” and pledged that if he became president, he would eventually expropriate the land of the wealthiest (he never said this).
one of his main campaign banners was national fight against corruption It consists of a dedicated anti-corruption cabinet and an oversight committee independent of the government and set up for the same purpose. Although he is not considering returning home, he praised the work of the International Commission (Cicig), which was expelled from Guatemala in 2019.
He also offered that he would call for the resignation of the country’s attorney general, Consuelo Porras, Called “corrupt” by the United States, he was responsible for investigating dozens of journalists and anti-corruption judges, and eventually chose to go into exile. Although Arevalo clarified that he could not interfere because it was a legal case, Arevalo did say he hoped they would return to Guatemala.
He has also declared that he will protect the rights of LGBT people and that his government will not allow any discrimination against them, a point his opponents have used to affirm that he is seeking to legalize equal marriage and promote abortion. Arevalo denies this.
The main challenge for Guatemala’s next president will be to continue efforts to improve living conditions and opportunities for more than half of the population who live below the poverty line, Half of all children suffer from chronic malnutrition.
The country is considered the largest economy in Central America and one of the most unequal in Latin America. This is reflected in the growing migration crisis and the lack of adequate basic health and education services, especially in rural areas.
Still, if Arevalo faces a specific challenge, it is trying to fulfill his main promise to end the corruption that, according to analysts and international groups, has plagued the country for years.
“It’s going to be complicated because the ‘corruption pact’ that we know has been in the country for 20 years, and it’s going to be very difficult to undo it within four years of the government. There’s a lot of interest involved, not the same as those that have long been privileged in the country It is not easy to negotiate with the latter,” said the Guatemalan political scientist. Gabriela Carrera.
His other proposals included controlling prisons, strengthening the security of the National Civil Police, creating jobs through public investment in roads and infrastructure, opening more than 400 new health posts and distributing scholarships for students.
The truth is that many have high hopes for a new party like Semira, which promises so many changes, but has to overcome the fact that: Allies are few.
Among them, some social actors, Aboriginal authorities and urban and youth groups can, through strong mobilization on social networks, gain the support that is excited about the results of the first round and which is already decisive for its success.
challenges and difficulties
But it is likely to be rejected by agents with huge influence in the country: Big businessmen and traditional economic elites, evangelical churches and military departments.
“One of its shortcomings is that our political class articulates state power in a less high-minded political way, but is intimately involved in corruption cases. The controls on state institutions are designed to prevent them from being exposed to others who might question corruption or mismanagement of funds. The control of the actors, which could become an obstacle for the government,” said analyst Dab Roy.
Arevalo’s difficulties can also be seen in the conservative-majority Congress, where Semira has 23 delegates out of a total of 160, behind pro-government VAMOS and Torres’ UNE, which have shown in the past Ability to form alliances.
But Carrera, director of public action at the Rafael Landivar University, said, “Hopefully the negotiations with the different players in the country will work, and if there is one thing that characterizes Arevalo, it is the possibility of mediation.” . He is an excellent negotiator, which will be a huge advantage for his future administration. “
However, given the ongoing investigations into Semira and the long time before Arevalo takes office in January, experts suggest that a decision remains to be made in the judiciary.
“It doesn’t look like this will end Sunday’s election, but we may continue to see attempts to rig the election process,” Dabroy predicted.
“We can’t rule out more surprises because we’ve had them since day one of the electoral process. No matter who wins, I’m sure there will be a lot of dissatisfaction The outlook can be mixed. ” Carrera agreed.
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