Retired general Otto Perez wins Guatemalan election

The subheading of an article in the Sunday, November 6, edition of the UK Guardian says it all: “Rightwinger takes victory… after promising to send army into battle against drug cartels.”

“Otto Perez, a retired rightwing general who promised a crackdown on violent crime, has won Guatemala’s presidential election, becoming the first member of the military to take power since democracy was restored in 1986.”

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“It is a clear move to the right for Central America’s largest economy and came after leftist President Alvaro Colom failed to contain violent crime or protect the country from Mexican drug cartels using it as a smuggling route.

“Perez, 60, won the runoff election after promising he would apply a ‘firm hand’ by deploying troops on the streets and increasing the size of the police force.

“Guatemala’s murder rate is about eight times that of the US and many of the country’s 14.7 million people want a tougher stance on crime.”

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“Human rights groups have concerns about Perez’s crime-fighting message in a country with a history of military dictatorships and killings by security forces.

“The army murdered suspected leftists and committed massacres of peasants during the 1960-1996 civil war in a which about a quarter of a million people were killed or disappeared.”

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“The election campaign focused mainly on Guatemala’s battle against street gangs and Mexican drug traffickers moving South American cocaine up through the country to theĀ  US. Military experts say cartels and gangs control around 40% of Guatemala, a huge challenge for the next president.”

With a new president, will the situation improve for the average citizen of Guatemala? When I posed this question to several Guatemalan friends, they all answered, “It can’t get worse.”

Read the entire Guardian article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/07/otto-perez-wins-guatemala-president

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