HomeNewsGuatemala presidential election: Unraveling the ultimate candidates’ platforms Acquire US

Guatemala presidential election: Unraveling the ultimate candidates’ platforms Acquire US

Guatemala Metropolis, Guatemala – Guatemalans will head to the polls on August 20 to vote within the run-off election for the nation’s subsequent president, the fruits of a carefully watched and scandal-ridden race.

Voters are set to decide on between Congressman Bernardo Arevalo of the progressive Seed Motion and Sandra Torres, a former first girl representing the conservative Nationwide Unity of Hope (UNE) occasion.

The weeks main as much as the run-off have been contentious although, spurring worries in regards to the democratic course of in Guatemala.

Arevalo surpassed expectations when he emerged as one in all two victors within the preliminary spherical of voting on June 25. However the outcomes triggered a backlash among the many political institution.

Rival political events referred to as for a evaluation of the votes, and when that course of upheld the outcomes, the general public prosecutor’s workplace sought to droop Arevalo’s occasion, on the premise that the signatures used to kind the Seed Motion had been fraudulent.

The occasion’s suspension was finally overturned, as Guatemala’s Constitutional Court docket dominated it violated electoral legislation.

Former first girl Sandra Torres, left, is ready to face off in opposition to darkish horse progressive Bernardo Arevalo [File: Cristina Chiquin/Reuters]

However the public prosecutor’s workplace has continued to conduct workplace raids concentrating on the Seed Motion and the nation’s election authority, prompting critics to accuse President Alejandro Giammattei and his authorities of election interference.

Arevalo however holds a commanding lead over his rival, Torres. On August 2, the market analysis agency CID Gallup and the Basis for Liberty and Freedom, a Guatemalan suppose tank, launched a ballot exhibiting Arevalo with 63 p.c assist, in contrast with Torres at 37 p.c.

The 2 candidates have by no means met in a public debate. One was deliberate for August 7, however Torres didn’t attend, as an alternative holding a rival occasion to current her governing platform.

The CID Gallup ballot exhibits that voters’ biggest concern is the sharp enhance in the price of residing. Practically 60 p.c of the inhabitants lives in poverty, in accordance with authorities statistics. Different high points embrace worsening crime and rampant corruption.

Right here is how the candidates stack up on the problems.

Sandra Torres, wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with "Sandra Presidenta," flashes a peace sign to a young supporter in a crowd.
Conservative presidential candidate Sandra Torres of the Nationwide Unity of Hope occasion meets supporters in Guatemala Metropolis on August 5 [File: Cristina Chiquin/Reuters]

Restoring the financial system

Confronted with an financial disaster, Torres has proposed the enlargement of the social programmes she oversaw as first girl, together with the institution of stipends for single moms.

In a July interview, Torres additionally proposed laws to advertise Guatemala as a vacation spot for near-shoring, the observe of transferring enterprise operations to international locations near massive markets like america. Close to-shoring, Torres argued, may stimulate employment and overseas funding in Guatemala.

Alternatively, Arevalo proposed passing laws that might break up monopolies within the telecommunication and pharmaceutical industries to generate extra competitors. He has additionally promised to carry down the price of electrical energy, strengthen shopper protections and supply extra employment coaching.

As well as, Arevalo stated he’ll enhance the nation’s credit standing by strengthening the rule of legislation and combating corruption.

Bernardo Arevalo, wearing a straw hat and carrying a sunflower — a symbol of his campaign —, shakes hands with a supporter on the streets.
Seed Motion candidate Bernardo Arevalo has promised to interrupt up monopolies in Guatemala [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

Cracking down on crime

Torres has promised to implement a tough-on-crime safety mannequin just like that of neighbouring El Salvador, the place President Nayib Bukele suspended due course of ensures in favour of a mass gang crackdown.

“Even when it hurts, I’m going to undertake the Bukele mannequin,” Torres stated in a televised debate on June 20 between the then-leading candidates. Arevalo, a darkish horse at that time, had not been invited to take part.

“I’m going to scrub up the jail system, which is stuffed with corruption,” Torres continued. “I’m going to guard your loved ones and your kids.”

Torres’s proposals embrace deploying the army to metropolis streets, rising police presence within the nation, opening new army bases, constructing three new prisons and ramping up surveillance by way of the adoption of applied sciences like facial recognition and biometrics.

Torres has additionally stated her safety measures would give attention to combating gang extortion in city areas first. She promised to strip criminals accused of violent crimes and extortion of their human rights, evaluating them to “terrorists”.

“Human rights are for the victims, not for the delinquents,” she stated in a speech.

Her rival Arevalo, in the meantime, has referred to as for the hiring and coaching of 12,000 new skilled cops. He additionally has pushed for the development of police stations throughout the nation, which are sometimes in dismal situation.

He backs the development of 1 new jail for these accused of significant crimes, as effectively. With many extortion threats in Guatemala originating from inside the nation’s jail system, Arevalo has promised to crack down on criminality behind bars.

A woman in a white baseball cap and black vest greets supporters on August 5 in Guatemala City.
Sandra Torres has promised a extra aggressive strategy to tackling Guatemala’s crime [File: Cristina Chiquin/Reuters]

Combating corruption

Each candidates have promised to handle corruption upon getting into workplace.

Growing transparency is a key a part of Torres’s agenda to battle corruption. However Torres herself has been accused of corruption. She was briefly arrested in 2019 on allegations of violating marketing campaign finance legislation. A 3-year probe into the matter closed in November, simply two months earlier than the 2023 election season formally started.

Arevalo, against this, has made combating corruption a centrepiece of his marketing campaign. He has proposed a 10-measure plan that features the creation of an anti-corruption cupboard and insurance policies to disqualify folks convicted of corruption from holding public workplace.

His occasion, the Seed Motion, was based in 2017 on the promise of curbing corruption. It had began to organise as early as 2015 although, within the wake of protests in opposition to President Otto Perez Molina, who was sentenced to 16 years in jail for customs fraud.

Arevalo, the son of Guatemala’s first democratically elected president, advised Al Jazeera in July that longstanding corruption had eroded public religion within the nation’s politics.

“An important factor that we have to do is to permit folks to regain confidence and belief in political establishments in Guatemala,” Arevalo stated.

“We have to present the those who, as soon as you’re taking out corruption from the formulation, you will get establishments to function once more and to start to ship every thing that we’d like on this society that has been deserted by a system that has not been in regards to the wants of the folks.”

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