Guatemalan Elections

While I’ve been up to my ears in Hillary, Rudy, Romney, Obama, YouTube Debates and McCain, I’ve forgotten to talk about the upcoming presidential election in Guatemala on Sept. 9.

Meet the candidates.

1. The current [and very recent] frontrunner, retired army general, graduate of the School of the Americas and former spy chief, Otto Pérez Molina of the right-wing Partido Patriota (31.8%)

I didn’t find any interviews of any length of Molina on YouTube, just campaign ads though: Plan nacional contra el hambre, Que es mano dura.

Duration: 7:07

2. An industrial engineer and business, Álvaro Colom of the leftist Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (31.77%)

Interview on Dialogos. Duration: 6:16

A somewhat cheesy campaign commercial

More vids from his youtube account

From Reuters:

Right-wing former Guatemalan Gen. Otto Perez Molina and center-left presidential candidate Alvaro Colom are in a dead heat heading into Sunday’s election, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

Colom has consistently led political polls, but Perez Molina, an ex-head of military intelligence during the 1960-1996 civil war, has been closing the gap with promises to crack down on rampant crime.

Perez Molina backs using the army to fight crime by selectively declaring states of emergency and suspending constitutional rights in areas overrun by crime. Guatemala has one of highest murder rates in the world.

3. Former director of prisons, Alejandro Giammattei, Gran Alianza Nacional (GANA) (14.6%)
A long form ad. Great choice of music though: Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt (also used to great effect in the HBO movie “Wit”)

4. Eduardo Suger, Centre for Social Action (CAS) (8.4%)

5. Luis Rabbé, of the Frente Republicano Guatemalteco (4.5%)

6. 1992 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Rigoberta Menchú of Encuentro por Guatemala (EPG) (3.1%)

Menchu slipped to 6th place in the most recent polls.

Duration: 8:27

Part 2 and Part 3 of the interview

6 of the 50 or so political murders occurring during this campaign season have been from Menchu’s party.

If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, a run-off will take place on Nov. 4.

The campaigning is not without its problems. The NYTimes has reported that Drug Gangs Use Violence to Sway Guatemala Vote.

In the campaigning leading up to elections on Sept. 9, the authorities have reported 61 violent attacks on candidates and political activists. The death toll is 26, including seven national congressmen and numerous other office seekers.

So dangerous is campaigning that Álvaro Colom, the leading presidential candidate, flies in a helicopter to avoid being ambushed and travels with a physician with extensive experience in bullet wounds. He is careful what he eats, lest someone poison it. “I hate to say this, but it’s more violent now than during the war,” he said.

José Carlos Marroquín, Mr. Colom’s chief strategist, might have joined the list of victims as well. Last year, as campaigning got under way, assailants lobbed three grenades at his motorcade and opened fire on the vehicles with automatic weapons. He survived but the threats against him and his family have not let up.

Related Stories

La Encuesta: Otto Pérez y Álvaro Colom igualan from La Prensa Libre

Election 2007 from the Guatemala Solidarity Network

Guatemala’s pre-election violence from the Economist
Congressman’s son killed ahead of Guatemalan elections from International Herald Tribune
Bloodshed hits Guatemala election campaign from Boston Globe

Gunmen have attacked candidates and an activist for Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu’s political party three times in the last week in Guatemala’s bloodiest election race since a civil war ended a decade ago.

The body of Carlos de Leon Bravo, a local candidate in the northwestern region of San Marcos, was found shot and stuffed in the trunk of his car on Sunday, wrapped in flags of Menchu’s left-leaning Together for Guatemala party.