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Alejandro Giammattei
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/O. de Ros

Guatemala: Alejandro Giammattei elected president

August 12, 2019

Alejandro Giammattei has won victory in Guatemala's presidential runoff, the electoral commission says. He has pledged to fight crime with the death penalty and limit reproductive freedoms and equality for LGBTQ+ people.


With results from 95% of polling stations in Guatemala's presidential runoff counted, the Supreme Electoral Council has announced that 63-year-old Alejandro Giammattei has won almost 60% of votes, compared with about 26% for former first lady Sandra Torres.

"The aim is fulfilled," Giammattei said late Sunday. "It will be an immense honor to be president."

Eight million people were eligible to vote in the runoff for the June 16 election. However, a turnout of 40% suggests disillusionment.

Giammattei, who had lost three previous presidential bids, received negative press ahead of the vote. Investigative site Nomada branded Giammattei "impulsive ... despotic, tyrannical ... capricious, vindictive" — and worse. This time, Giammattei ran for Vamos, a party that preaches liberal economics and works to limit access to reproductive services and opposes LGBTQ+ equality.

Change to come?

Torres had previously run a textile and apparel company. She proposed an anti-corruption program, but her Unity for Hope party has come under fire because some of its mayoral candidates have found themselves accused of receiving contributions from drug traffickers for their campaigns.

Guatemala has been transited by people seeking to migrate to the United States via Central America. The candidates avoided committing to a migration deal that President Jimmy Morales — barred by Guatemalan law from seeking a second term — had negotiated with the Trump administration. In a poll by Prodatos for the Prensa Libre newspaper, 82% of respondents opposed the deal.

Guatemala has a poverty rate of 60%, and the homicide rate remains high. At least 1% of Guatemala's population of about 16 million people has left the country this year.

Remittances from US-based Guatemalans reached a record $9.3 billion (€8.3 billion) last year. According to the World Bank, remittances account for 12% of the country's gross domestic product.

Analysts do not expect Giammattei to reverse the decision by Morales to expel the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which helped to launch a massive anti-corruption drive and bring down President Otto Perez Molina in 2015. The commission had also started investigating the campaign financing of Morales, who has accused the body of getting involved in politics and announced that he would not renew its mandate when it expires in September.

mkg/cmk (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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