Guatemala is a country located in the region of North America. Guatemala has been governed since January 2020 by the right-wing president Alejandro Giammattei, a former doctor and prison chief who has held three previous presidential elections but never held any political office. He has promised tough deals against corruption and crime.
Before the first round of the June 2019 presidential election, three women were leading the polls: former presidential wife Sandra Torres for the second time running for the UN Social Democratic Party, former state prosecutor Thelma Aldana was a candidate for the newly formed Semilla and Zury Ríos, daughter of the former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, was the right-wing candidate of Valor. One month before the election, however, both Zury Ríos and Aldana were disqualified by the Constitutional Court. When the election was held, Torres received the most votes but far from half, which was needed for victory in the first election (see Calendar). In the second round on August 11, she was placed against the right-wing party of Vamo’s candidate Alejandro Giammattei, who thus resigned with the victory (see Calendar).
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Guatemala, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Giammattei is a doctor from the beginning and was the country’s highest prison chief in 2006-2007. He was subsequently arrested, suspected of lying behind extrajudicial executions on seven inmates in connection with an armed assault against a notorious prison, which has long been considered controlled by prisoners. However, the investigation was closed for lack of evidence.
When Representative Jimmy Morales won the 2015 election, many saw it as a support for a new start for the country, and a protest against the traditional establishment. But gradually it became clear that Morales had strong support from the military, the right-wing parties and the conservative elite – that is, the traditional establishment. He also showed little respect for democratic norms and institutions, especially when investigating his close confidants or family members. Towards the end of the presidential term, Morale’s popularity figures were low. He has now been elected to the regional parliament Parlacén, which means that he continues to have prosecutorial immunity.
The charges against Morales for financing fraud were made at the end of August 2017, when Guatemalan prosecutors supported by UN-supported Commission Cicig (see Political system) requested that the president’s prosecutorial immunity be revoked. The reason was suspicions that Morales and his party failed to report the equivalent of $ 1 million in funding in connection with the fall 2015 election. put the Constitutional Court down and explained that the President has no such powers. The Cicig boss, a Colombian lawyer, remained in Guatemala (see also Calendar)). But a year later, in August 2018, Morales decided not to renew Cicig’s mandate. It immediately sparked criticism from, among others, the EU, which accused Morales of “taking a step back” in attempts to strengthen the rule of law.
The criticism became sharp both domestically and abroad a year earlier when the president tried to kick out the head of Cicig, whose mission was to help the Guatemalan judiciary in the fight against corruption and impunity. The suspicions of funding fraud were particularly troublesome as Morales, both during the election campaign and in his victory speech, promised to invest in combating corruption.
When the then newly elected congress took office in 2016, it also started tearing up 54 contracts that had been signed the year before with people hired by the previous congress. Among other things, it turned out that the legislative assembly had nearly 2,000 employees, many of them relatives or acquaintances of members.
The corruption allegations that came to light in 2015 triggered a political crisis that culminated when President, Otto Pérez Molina, was forced to resign just a few days before the upcoming presidential and congressional elections (see Modern History). Pérez Molina and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti are still in custody, pending trial.
Guatemala occupies one of the absolute bottom positions among the countries of the world in terms of both unevenly distributed resources and the number of violent crimes. Since the end of the civil war in 1996, organized crime and gang crime have spread rapidly. The crime has been exacerbated by the fact that Mexican drug cartels have moved their operations to northern Guatemala. Violence and corruption have increasingly come to characterize society while more than half of the residents live in poverty.
Morale’s Front National Convergence Party (FCN) was given only eleven seats in Congress, and he was therefore forced to cooperate with other Conservative parties.
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
READING TIP – read more about Guatemala in UI’s web magazine Foreign
Magazine: Amnestilag challenges fight against impunity in Guatemala (2019–03–20)
FACTS – POLITICS
Republic of Guatemala / Republic of Guatemala
republic, unitary state
Head of State and Government
President Alejandro Giammattei (2020–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
UNE 54, Vamos 16, UCN 12, Valor 9, FCN 8, Bien 8, Semilla 7, Viva 7, Todos 7, others 32 (2019)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Songs 44, UNE 36, Todos 18, PP 17, FCN 11, others 32 (2015)
62 percent in congressional elections and 1st round of presidential elections, 42 percent in second round of presidential elections 2019
presidential and congressional elections 2023