September 23, 2023


VILLA NUEVA, Guatemala (AP) — After a tumultuous marketing campaign, Guatemalans forged their ballots Sunday in a runoff presidential election that pits an anti-corruption advocate towards a former first woman seen as an ally to the outgoing authorities.

The 2 candidates provide starkly totally different paths ahead. Former first woman Sandra Torres grew to become an ally of outgoing, deeply unpopular President Alejandro Giammattei in her third bid for the presidency. Her opponent, Bernardo Arévalo, with the progressive Seed Motion, rode a wave of well-liked resentment towards politics to his shock spot within the runoff.

Central America’s most populous nation and the area’s largest economic system continues to battle with widespread poverty and violence which have pushed lots of of 1000’s of Guatemalans to to migrate to the U.S. lately.

Roxana Abigail González voted for Arévalo on Sunday, hoping that he would make a distinction for her future. “I believe he could possibly be president,” she stated.

The 25-year-old pupil lives in Villa Nueva, the gritty hillside suburb above the capital. Thieves and gangs that extort companies and kill those that don’t pay roam its cratered streets. González stated she has had the possessions she carried stolen a number of occasions, making her nervous to enterprise out alone.

Amongst her lengthy checklist of hopes for Guatemala’s subsequent authorities are extra safety, jobs for the poor households whose kids she sees begging within the streets and extra hospitals.

González needs to proceed on to school and research enterprise administration. She likes to prepare dinner and desires of getting her personal restaurant at some point, however the specter of extortion is so nice that she’s uncertain if it’s potential. “Individuals can’t hold a enterprise,” she stated.

Earlier Sunday, residents of Santo Domingo Xenacoj lined as much as vote on the native major college within the mountains about an hour west of the capital. The Volcano of Fireplace puffed within the distance as males in jackets and ladies in conventional embroidered blouses wrapped in shawls towards the coolness got here out to vote.

Juan Xocoxi Chocoyo, a 60-year-old farmer and driver, was the primary in line. He stated he shared his vote solely with God, however that the problems weighing on his thoughts as he entered the voting sales space had been the shortage of labor and the rising price of on a regular basis merchandise.

He’s unemployed and subsists on the corn and beans he grows. He used to develop a wide range of greens, but it surely grew to become too costly.

“There’s no work, (the fee) of every thing went up,” he stated. “Typically there’s no work and there are poor who go hungry.”

Mario Monzon, 61, voted Sunday as a result of he “needs to see a extra developed nation with extra work,” he stated after casting his poll in Santo Domingo Xenacoj. He works in a water therapy laboratory within the capital, however says numerous folks research however can’t discover jobs.

At a faculty within the middle of Guatemala Metropolis, a few dozen folks waited for polls to open. “I bought up very early. I’m motivated by the correct I’ve to vote,” stated Sergio Antonlín, a 62-year-old vendor. “What I hope is that one thing constructive for the nation comes out of this, we’re bored with the previous corrupt politics.”

Clara High, a 43-year-old seamstress on the town, stated she voted for Torres, as a result of she has promised to offer poor households month-to-month baggage of meals staples. “She helps essentially the most needy,” High stated.

The primary spherical of voting on June 25 went comparatively easily till outcomes confirmed Arévalo had landed an sudden spot within the runoff. The truth that the preliminary outcomes had been dragged into Guatemala’s co-opted justice system has raised nervousness amongst many Guatemalans that voters won’t have the ultimate phrase Sunday.

Guatemala’s Lawyer Common’s Workplace is investigating Arévalo’s get together for allegedly gathering fraudulent signatures for its registration years earlier. The get together has dismissed the accusations as politically motivated.

Torres, in her closing marketing campaign occasion Friday in Guatemala Metropolis’s sprawling central market, advised she wouldn’t settle for a end result that didn’t go her means. “We’re going to defend vote by vote as a result of right now democracy is in danger (and) as a result of they need to steal the elections,” she stated.

Arévalo, a lawmaker and former diplomat, is the son of former President Juan José Arévalo, the primary leftist president of Guatemala’s democratic period. The elder Arévalo remains to be revered by many for establishing elementary components of Guatemalan society resembling social safety and labor laws.

However Torres has painted her opponent as a radical leftist who threatens Guatemalans’ conservative values on points together with sexual identification and abortion.

“We’re not going to allow them to affect our youngsters with unusual and overseas ideologies,” she stated Friday.

Having run largely populist campaigns, capitalizing on her oversight of the federal government’s social applications throughout the presidency of her then-husband Álvaro Colom, Torres drifted sharply rightward this time, abandoning the social democratic historical past of her Nationwide Unity of Hope get together and launching unsubstantiated assaults at Arévalo that she herself suffered throughout earlier failed campaigns.

Arévalo advised supporters within the capital’s central plaza Wednesday night time that misinformation and fearmongering, “is the work of those that don’t need Guatemala to alter.”

Delmi Espino, a 46-year-old instructor, got here to vote in Guatemala Metropolis along with her mom. “It’s unbelievable how we managed to get up to now after every thing that has occurred within the electoral course of,” she stated. “How’s it potential that now there’s an investigation of one of many two events?”

“It doesn’t matter that we want safety, schooling or well being, should you don’t battle corruption,” she stated. “We would like a president who cares concerning the nation.”


Pérez D. reported from Guatemala Metropolis.