Guatemalans will go to the election polls this weekend to vote for mayors, members of Congress, governors and the first round of the presidential election. The clear frontrunner for president is Sandra Torres, from the UNE party. Torres is the ex-wife of Alvaro Colom, president of Guatemala from 2008- 2014. Torres has been accused of illicit campaign financing from the 2015 election, and is running on a campaign of “social programs” similar to those under Colom’s government. However these programs fail to address any structural issues of poverty and are more like government charity programs.
Polls show Alejandro Giammattei from the VAMOS party in second place, with Roberto Arzú with PAN-PODEMOS, Edmond Mulet with HUMANISTA and Thelma Cabrera from Movimento de Liberacion para los Pueblos (MLP) all tied for third. Giammattei is supported by traditional power structures in Guatemala and has strong ties to organized crime. The MLP is a political party born out of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA) and Cabrera has been receiving large-scale support from both urban and rural voters, a major shift for Guatemalan electoral politics.
Many members of the Highland Small Farmers Committee (CCDA) are running for Congress positions through the Winaq party, including the current National Coordinator Marcelo Sabuc. Former National Coordinator Leocadio Juracan is looking to be elected for a second term. Juan Martin Perez, bus driver for many BTS delegations, was notified this week that his registration was denied as he is considered to be an employee of the state through his work as a driver. On social media Perez stated that the decision was unjust as other candidates in similar situations were able to register.
In terms of mayoral candidates, we are particularly watching the municipalities surrounding the Escobal mine, where mayors running on anti-mining platforms swept the 2015 elections. This year, there are a number of candidates coming from the resistance movements, as well as strong pro-mining candidates. The mine is currently suspended through direct action and a decision by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court, which found that the State had not consulted with the Indigenous Xinka people. If a pro-mining candidate wins the elections, it could have a major impact on the community resistance.
Please follow us on twitter @BTS_MG for updates on the day of the elections, Sunday, June 16.