It was already tumultuous and historic week in Guatemala.
The country’s congress, after months of protest, stripped a sitting president of his immunity from prosecution. That president, Otto Pérez Molina, subsequently resigned, and officials then arrested and imprisoned him on corruption charges in relation to a scandal that’s already swept up more than a dozen ministers and Pérez Molina’s former vice president, who resigned in July.
Nevertheless, Guatemalans went to the polls on Sunday to choose both a new president and the entire 158-member Congreso, among other local municipality offices. Unsurprisingly, none of the presidential candidates won an absolute majority, so Guatemalans will vote again in an October 25 runoff.
One of the candidates in that runoff will be independent candidate Jimmy Morales (pictured above), the leader of the previously little-known Frente de Convergencia Nacional (FCN, National Convergence Front). A comedian, Morales is a political neophyte whose campaign has railed against Guatemala’s political elite, a call that’s resonated as this week’s crisis hit its crescendo.
* * * * *
RELATED: Yes, progress in Central America, but don’t call it a ‘spring’
* * * * *
Sounding an anti-corruption note tempered by social conservatism and nationalist tones, Morales has the populist momentum heading into the runoff because he’s a newcomer viewed as unsullied by the sordid taint of corruption that infects more established politicians, including his two main rivals. Continue reading Torres edges Baldizón into Guatemalan runoff with Morales