It doesn't make sense to call Colom a leftist - states of siege in Alta Verapaz and the Peten, repression of civil society organizations, and conditional cash transfer programs, free trade with the US, etc. In many ways, t's the same thing that the right will offer tomorrow.
Yes, security is paramount for Guatemalans. However, it might have been better had he discussed how the murder rate grew terribly during Colom's first two years in office but that it has declined since. That hasn't been enough to change the theme of this year's election especially given the overall level of crime (extortion, assaults, robberies, etc.) and fear that pervade the country. Others might say that the media and the main candidates have neglected the declining murder rate so as to ensure a rightist is elected on Sunday.
And there's also the fact that the top two candidates, Perez and Baldizon, both promise mano dura policies. They want to add more police and army (Perez) or a new guard (Baldizon). They both want a return to the death penalty. It's mano dura v. mano dura, not a choice between mano dura and something else. That's not entirely fair however. Baldizon, referred to by some as the Berlusconi of the Peten, seems just as comfortable on the populist right as he does the populist left.
And I'm not really sure that the following is accurate:
While liberal voters voice unease over the prospect of a tough-talking former military man in charge, others see Perez Molina's military experience as an asset during a crisis of violence.
The left is concerned about Perez because, in addition to his alleged crimes that Ellingwood mentions, he was in charge of one of the departments struck most ferociously by the Guatemalan military during the genocide period. He's not just some tough talking military man.
He is believed to be one of the men responsible for designing and executing a scorched earth program in the countryside in the early 1980s. In addition, he has also been connected to the death of the beloved Bishop Juan Gerardi. Finally, he has also been connected to hidden powers in postwar Guatemala.
But some critics worry that mano dura may prove to be shorthand for an approach that harks back to the era of iron-fisted military rule.
I'd say other critics are more concerned with the possibility that homicide rates will escalate like they did in Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador after presidents in those countries took a mano dura approach to crime.
A final concern is that Guatemala is just starting to make progress in bringing human rights perpetrators to justice. Perez, as a former military man who denies that genocide occurred, is unlikely to be support of criminal procedures that would hold former military men responsible for their crimes.
(That's it for now. Sorry if it was a bit rambling.)