Guatemala: Supreme Court bans former First Lady's candidacy
August 5, 2011
On 11 September, Guatemala will hold elections to choose the successor to current President alvaro Colom and Vice President Jose Rafael Espada. alvaro Colom, who took office in 2008, is ineligible for re-election, as running for a second consecutive term is barred by the constitution. The front runners for the top jobs are former military General Otto Perez Molina (with Roxana Baldetti as vice president) from the opposition Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota), former First Lady Sandra Torres (with Roberto Diaz-Duran as vice president), who represents the ruling National Unity of Hope Party (Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza) and, just a month before the elections, the country's electoral court also approved the candidacy of Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu from the Ample Front Coalition (Coalicion Frente Amplio). To be eligible to run, Sandra Torres, in an unusual move, divorced her husband, current President alvaro Colom, as the country's constitution prohibits relatives of sitting presidents from pursuing the presidential office. However, Guatemala's Supreme Court banned Torres's candidacy, arguing that her candidacy is illegal and fraudulent. Nevertheless, Sandra Torres has appealed against the court's decision to allow her to run for the presidency, arguing that her exclusion from the race was a violation of human rights and that every married person has the right to file for divorce, including the wife of the president. While Torres is still waiting for the final appeal, thousands of her supporters turned out in the streets, demanding that she be allowed to run for office. Meanwhile, support for Otto Perez Molina is weakening, according to latest polls. A presidential candidate needs more than 50% of votes to avoid a second-round run off.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist