Sunday, September 11, 2011

Election Day is Finally Here

Here are a few more English-language stories for today's big election in Guatemala.
The AFP has Ex-general leads in race for Guatemala presidency. Okay, it's not a big deal but Otto Perez has had a commanding lead since well before Sandra Torres was permanently disqualified from the race. He's led since at least January 2009 but I would go back and say that he's been the prohibitive favorite since Alvaro Colom took office. 
How nice that Perez is now concerned about excessive campaign spending.
Perez, running for the Patriotic Party, urged voters to elect him in the first round of balloting. "By winning the first round, all Guatemalans would win," he said, claiming that the 19 million dollars that would be spent on the run-off vote "could be spent on health, education, highways."
The AP has Guatemalans go to polls to elect president. Whereas the AFP story has half the population living in poverty, the AP has chosen to go with the 75% figure (probably more accurate). The end of the article leads to a good question even though that wasn't its intention.
Alvaro Velasquez, of the Central American Institute of Political Studies, said people are disenchanted with politics as a result of the Colom government, which promised to quell the violence with social programs.
"They expected the government of Colom to be the transformation, but he didn't even try to be strong," Velasquez said.
The murder rate upon leaving office should be lower than when Colom first assumed office. Does he not get any credit for that because the Guatemalan people expected a lot more or does he not get credit because he is soft-spoken and does not exude strength? Again, maybe it's because violence might be up even though murders are down - don't know that one for sure.
Reuters comes in with Crime fears color Guatemala's presidential vote. Whereas the AFP goes with 12 murders per day to describe the violence in Guatemala, Reuters goes with 18 per day. 18 is accurate for 2010 which was lower than 2009 (19). Fortunately, Guatemala is on pace for a rate of 16-17 for 2011. Not great, but heading in the right direction. But it's nowhere near the 12 number that the AFP goes with.  On the other hand, if Perez can fulfill his campaign promise of reducing the murder rate by 20% during his term in office, we'll be looking at a number closer to 12 in 2015.
Neither candidate says how they will pay to fight crime.
It's more accurate to say that no one believes them when they say how they will pay to fight crime. Perez wants to cut down on corruption and contraband. No new taxes or tax increases. Baldizon will come up with an increase or new tax if only the Guatemalan people support one through a referendum.
Finally, UPI has Guatemalans looking for military presence. Actually, it just summarizes yesterday's NYT story.  
Polls open in a few minutes. While it hasn’t been the prettiest of campaigns, let’s hope that election day goes smoothly and that Guatemalans exercise their right to vote for those candidates whom they believe will best serve them over the next four years.


  1. Also damaging to Colom's presidency was the fiasco with his (ex)wife Sandra Torres, and the impression that his administration, as well as his personal life, was beholden to her political ambitions.

    The election went smoothly. Perez' support was lower than expected. The next polling of him and Baldizon will be very interesting.

  2. I agree that the runoff will be interesting. While most surveys that asked about a runoff scenario still had Perez winning, I'm leaning towards a very competitive and close runoff.