Quantcast
Connect with us

Serious work ahead for comedian Jimmy Morales after surprise win in Guatemalan presidential race

Published

on

Comedian and political neophyte Jimmy Morales, elected president of Guatemala in a landslide, faced the morning-after challenge Monday of restoring confidence in a state ravaged by corruption, gang violence and poverty.

The 46-year-old conservative swept to victory Sunday on a tide of voter outrage over a corruption scandal that felled his predecessor, Otto Perez.

ADVERTISEMENT

“With this election you have made me president, I received a mandate and that mandate is to fight the corruption that has consumed us,” said Morales on national TV.

“Thank you for this vote of confidence. My commitment remains to God and the Guatemalan people, and I will work with all my heart and strength not to defraud you.”

Morales, a comic actor and TV personality who has never held elected office, now must set about governing an impoverished Central American country with little to work with but high public expectations and a deep yearning for change.

His conservative FCN-Nacion party holds only 11 seats in the 158-seat Congress.

ADVERTISEMENT

“What we ask of the government is concrete results from the first day,” said Jorge Briz, head of an umbrella group that represents the private sector. “We want to see a fight against corruption with measurable results.”

– Wave of outrage –

Morales rode a wave of outrage with politics-as-usual in Guatemala, which is torn by gang violence and still recovering from a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

ADVERTISEMENT

After a surprise first round win, he steamrolled over Sandra Torres, a former first lady and candidate of the social democratic UNE party, in Sunday’s balloting.

Morales won 67 percent of the vote against 33 percent for Torres, according to final election results released Monday.

His economic team is to meet Monday with congressional leaders to lay out his spending priorities for the next year, including funding for nutrition programs, the resupply of public hospitals suffering from shortages of medicines, and support for production.

ADVERTISEMENT

The president-elect has also pledged to increase funding for the public prosecutors to purge the government of corruption and to support the work of the UN-backed anti-corruption commission that led the investigation that nabbed president Perez.

His transition team, meanwhile, will meet with interim President Alejandro Maldonado, a former Constitutional Court judge who replaced Perez after he resigned and was arrested on corruption charges on September 3, three days before the first round of voting.

– Missing millions –

ADVERTISEMENT

Perez, who is in jail awaiting trial, is accused of masterminding a corrupt network of politicians and customs officials that took bribes from businesses in exchange for illegal discounts on import duties.

Prosecutors and UN investigators say the network collected $3.8 million in bribes between May 2014 and April 2015 — including $800,000 each to Perez and jailed ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti.

It was the latest in a string of graft scandals in a country where corruption accounts for 50 percent of political parties’ funding and some $500 million in state funds goes missing every year, according to the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies.

ADVERTISEMENT

An estimated 54 percent of Guatemala’s 15.8 million people live below the poverty line of $1.50 a day, and 6,000 people a year die as a result of violence, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

With one of the region’s lowest tax rates, Guatemala has weak, under-financed public education and public health systems, burdensome public debt and declining revenues.

Public support for Morales may prove shallower than his huge election victory would suggest, as turnout was a relatively low 56.3 percent.

ADVERTISEMENT

Famous for playing a country bumpkin cowboy who nearly becomes president, his real-life run was for a party founded by former military officers, including some accused of committing atrocities during Guatemala’s civil war.

Morales has denied his party has any abusers in its ranks, but analysts say he will be under close scrutiny.

“The big challenge is to avoid any sign of corruption,” said Cristhians Castillo, a political analyst at the Universidad de San Carlos. “That could generate protests once again.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Britain’s Prince Andrew denies witnessing Epstein abuse

Published

on

Britain's Prince Andrew insisted on Saturday that "at no stage" during his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein did he "witness... any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest".

The prince, Queen Elizabeth II's second son, is under heavy fire over his relationship with the disgraced US financier, and admitted in a statement on Saturday that "it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010".

"At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s mental decline compared to Reagan’s hidden Alzheimer’s in brutal MSNBC assessment

Published

on

On Saturday morning a deadly serious MSNBC panel took up Donald Trump's increasingly erratic behavior of late, which led one panelist to sincerely suggest the president needs to be evaluated by mental health officials because she believes the White House is covering for him.

Speaking with host David Gura, MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley admitted that she is no doctor, but that there are signs of the president's decline that reminded her of how Ronald Reagan's White House hid his Alzheimer's from the public.

"This is the man last week said he was the second coming, the 'chosen one,'" Wiley began. "It is very, very difficult to not have a conversation about whether or not he's competent to serve as president. I say that because there were actually objective measures this week."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Mike Pence and Nikki Haley battled for attention at a GOP donor retreat: report

Published

on

Who will be President Donald Trump's successor as leader of the Republican Party?

It's a question that GOP officials are already asking themselves, and it is already producing subtle divides within their ranks. Two of the biggest names that get floated are Vice President Mike Pence and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Both politicians are comfortable appealing to multiple wings of the GOP, and both have managed to stay in Trump's good graces for far longer than most of the people who have worked in his administration.

They have pushed back aggressively on claims that they are challenging one another for control, with Haley aggressively denying rumors that Trump was interested in swapping her in to replace Pence on the 2020 ticket.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image