Guatemala News Round-Up

So. There was an election. Maybe you saw an ad or two about it.

September 11th, was the national election day, and there were very few surprises.  Retired General Otto Perez and businessman/congressman Manuel Baldizon made it into the runoff with 36 and 23 percent of the vote, respectively.  The election to determine the next president will be held on November 6th.

After the results were reported pretty much every single political party lined up to support Baldizon. Needless to say, the final election is expected to be a hard-fought affair.

Back here in Xela, mayor Mito Barrientos was elected to his third term.  After winning in a cakewalk back in 2007 (he was re-elected with over 70% of the vote) the 2011 campaign proved to be closer with more viable candidates taking a crack at the mayor’s office.

According to election law, all campaign propaganda needs to be taken down following the election. Still waiting on that one…

In soccer news the Guatemalan Men’s Team seeks to follow the U-20 team to  the country’s first trip to the World Cup. Currently atop Group E with two wins, Guatemala is expected to cruise into the third round of qualifications, where tougher matchups with United States and Jamaica loom. While Guatemala is decidedly an underdog to qualify, the schedule is reasonably favorable and who knows, maybe some of the U-20 magic will rub off on the national team.

After spending Q400 million to build a port in Champerico the government has declared the construction project a failure and is discontinuing work. According to vice-president Rafael Estrada, the port is imposible to fix at this point, will only be able to dock for tourist fishing boats and is still Q200 million away from completion. The different parties involved took turns blaming each other, while the government of Holland which donated Q99 million for the project fumed over the failed project.

Finally, the Tribunal Suprema Electoral (elections governing body) ordered the Partido Patriota not to spend any more money on its campaign. After having passed the arbitrary Q58 million cap on election spending Patriota, by law, needs to stop.  Unfortunately for democracy, the TSE has no actual power to enforce this decisión and the most it can do is give a fine of $150 USD.

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