Bernardo Arevalo Elected Guatemala’s New President  

The president-elect of Guatemala, Bernardo Arévalo. Photo: EFE |(Confidencial)

The president-elect of Guatemala obtained 59% of the votes against his opponent, former first lady Sandra Torres with 37%.

By EFE (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES The academic Bernardo Arevalo de Leon, elected this Sunday, August 20, as the next president of Guatemala, will be the first president with a progressive outlook to lead the Central American country, away from the conservative nature of his predecessors in office.

Without blemishes in his political career and with a largely conciliatory character, Arevalo came to the Presidency after a surprising first round of elections on June 25, when he slipped into second place while the polls placed him in seventh or eighth.

The polls, however, were not wrong this Sunday, since the candidate of the Movimiento Semilla political group surpassed his opponent, former first lady Sandra Torres Casanova, by a wide margin.

The Presidency will be an award for Bernardo Arevalo, a current deputy after serving as one of the founders of the Movimiento Semilla almost a decade ago.

Arevalo said he accepts “with great humility this victory” offered by the Guatemalan population, according to data from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

With 99% of the votes counted, Arevalo had 2.4 million votes, representing 59% of the total, while Torres had 1.5 million votes (37%).

From a different perspective

Since the establishment of democracy in Guatemala in 1986, all of its presidents have been conservative in nature, with a broad leaning to the right on the political spectrum.

With Arevalo, the situation is different, since he will try to emulate the presidency of his father, Juan Jose Arevalo, who between 1945 and 1951 had one of the most efficient governments in the country’s history, with the creation of the Social Security system and respecting freedom of thought.

Considered progressive or from a moderate left, the academic has said that his main fight when he takes office will be against corruption, notwithstanding issues such as the fight against malnutrition and the improvement of health services.

“I am not my father,” said Arevalo last Wednesday at the closing of his campaign. “But I am walking the same road that he built, and we are going to walk it together as a people. I have the same desire as the revolutionaries of 1944,” he said.

A pending obstacle

The arrival of Bernardo Arevalo to the Presidency, however, must still be made official ahead of the inauguration on January 14, 2024, for a period of four years.

This is due to the fact that the Public Ministry, whose top officials are sanctioned by the United States, began several attempts since July 12 to suspend the Movimiento Semilla due to an alleged case of false signatures during its creation of the party in 2018.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, arrests could be made against party members in the coming days. Therefore, political analysts do not rule out strong attempts to prevent Arévalo from being sworn in next January.

Before jumping into political life, the current deputy was known as an academic dedicated to writing books and articles on civil-military relations and security.

The current president-elect also had a stint as a diplomat. In 1995 and 1996 he was Guatemala’s ambassador to Spain and a year earlier he had been vice minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of former President Ramiro de Leon Carpio.

Similarly, in the 1990s he served as Guatemala’s consular secretary in Israel, and also worked as a conflict mediator for different organizations in Asia and Africa.

Arevalo says that his victory is a “cry” against corruption

Arevalo celebrated his triumph in the presidential elections on Sunday and affirmed that his victory is a cry of the people against the corruption that plagues the Central American country.

The president-elect, from the political party Movimiento Semilla, stated that “the ballot boxes have expressed themselves” and “what the people are shouting is enough of so much corruption.”

He was accompanied by his vice president, the scientist Karin Herrera, at the press conference where he spoke after confirming his electoral victory.

“We are going to create a government for all Guatemalans,” reiterated Herrera, who promised to “work tirelessly to achieve a new spring.”

Arevalo also addressed the voters of his opponent, Sandra Torres, to indicate that his government will be “for everyone” without exclusion.

The current president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, called Arevalo to congratulate him on the electoral victory and invite him to schedule a transition meeting once the Supreme Electoral Tribunal makes the results official.

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