Guatemala’s First Lady files for divorce

Guatemala’s First Lady Sandra Torres de Colom is seeking a divorce so she can run for president in the country’s September election, it was reported in the March 22 English edition of Aljazeera.  Torres is supported by the governing National Unity for Hope (UNE) party and the right-wing Grand National Alliance (GANA). Incumbent president Colom, who assumed office in 2008, cannot run for re-election.

In a statement released to the newspaper Prensa Libre, Otto Perez Molina, the main right-wing opposition candidate, called the divorce a “fraud”. “We will not allow them to mock the law with this move,” Molina said.

According to the constitution, close blood relatives of the president and those of “second level of affinity” are banned from running for office.

The divorce papers, which indicated a mutual desire for separation, came despite previous comments from the president that divorce was not an option and that his wife was eligible to run.

If both parties agree, the divorce could be final in about a month.

In her announcement of her candidacy, Torres said she decided to run “for the people, for my country, for the elderly, children, disabled, abandoned, orphaned, for all the needy in Guatemala.”

I don’t know a tremendous amount about history, but I know enough to hear echoes of Eva Peron in Torres’s platform statement. When Colom was elected President in 2008,  several people in Guatemala told me they viewed his election as a stepping-stone for his wife’s political aspirations.  Her willingness to divorce in order to be eligible reveals a strong desire to win.

For further background on Torres, read this March 10 article by Renata Avila in Global Voices.

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