Monday, March 21, 2011

Torres and Colom seek divorce so that Torres can succeed Colom

Well, at least Sandra Torres (and husband President Alvaro Colom) is not violating the constitution by running for president. Instead, she and Alvaro are making a mockery of it by seeking a divorce so that she can postulate as UNE's candidate later this year. Here's the AP story.
A court official says Guatemala's first lady is ending her eight-year marriage so she can seek to succeed her husband as president.
Guatemala's constitution prohibits members of a president's extended family from running for the presidency.
Judiciary spokesman Edwin Escobar says divorce proceedings began Monday between Sandra Torres de Colom and President Alvaro Colom, who cannot run for re-election.

If both parties agree, the divorce could be final in about a month.
Torres announced March 8 that she will be the presidential candidate of the governing National Unity for Hope party in the September election.
Torres' spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Otto Perez Molina of the Patriotic Party says that they are engaging in fraud while Eduardo Suger of CREO is calling the Colom's a "cheap soap opera." The former President of the Evangelical Alliance of Guatemala described their end around as a "mockery," "deceitful," "immoral," and "lacking ethics."

The Catholic Bishop of San Marcos, on the other hand, didn't seem to get too worked up about the divorce. He expressed "surprise" and said that the Church does not accept divorce. However, they were never married in the Church.

Like I said. It was wise not to invite the other Central American heads of state to the Obama-Funes get together in El Salvador.

And if you haven't read Daniel Altschuler and Javier Corrales' post on Torres and Perez Molina at Americas Quarterly yet, I would encourage you to do so. Here's the takeaway in my opinion.
But the Iron Fist and conjugal continuismo actually exemplify the same vicious cycle: unhealthy institutions breed unhealthy politics, which in turn further damage institutions. Perez’s candidacy shows how weak institutional capacity to contain crime spurs demand for a more coercive apparatus, which can further weaken civilian control of the military. Torres’ candidacy shows how weak institutions of checks and balances allow for an over-concentration of power in the executive. This, in turn, further undermines checks and balances, makes the ruling party more obsequious, and polarizes government-opposition relations.
I have just one quick thing to add. Sandra and Alvaro's decision to divorce so that she can run for president is another example of the weakness of Guatemala's political parties. UNE was established in 2002. While Colom was its presidential candidate in both 2003 and 2007, the party won thirty-two (20%) congressional seats in 2003 and forty-eight (30%) in 2007. Even though its representation in congress down to forty, it still is eight seats larger than the Patriotic Party. It is sad that the party could not come up with a candidate that did not confront constitutional barriers to office.

I am going out on a limb here to bet that the next Borge y Asociados poll has her come in under ten percent. Does anyone think that the announcement of her candidacy and then her divorce is going to help her in the polls?

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