Fresh Scandal: Who Are Guatemala’s Presidential Candidates?

September 7, 2015

 Jimmy Morales | National Convergence Front Party

Jimmy Morales | National Convergence Front Party

Far from offering Guatemala a clean break from political scandal, the three front runners in the presidential race have murky histories including ties with the far-right.

As Guatemalans headed to the ballot box Sunday to elect a new president, many were probably hoping for a change to Otto Perez Molina, the disgraced former leader who stepped down amid a customs fraud ring known as “La Linea.”

But far from offering Guatemala a clean break from political scandal, the three frontrunners in the presidential race have murky histories, including ties with the far-right, criminal organizations and corruption cases.

Jimmy Morales | National Convergence Front Party

Born in Guatemala City March 18, 1969, Morales, who is currently leading the polls, studied Business Administration at the San Carlos University of Guatemala (USAC). The actor and comedian was put forward as a candidate for mayor of the Mixco city council in the 2011 general elections by National Development Action political party.

Key proposals:

Morales pledges to combat the problem of hunger through food security, unemployment, and invest in education.


Morales is closely linked with Edgar Justino Ovalle, a former general during the country’s horrific period of genocide of the 1980s, who headed operations including 77 massacres in the Quiche region.

His party, National Convergence Front, is backed by retired general Jose Luis Quilo Ayuso, the former president of the Association of Veterans and Soldiers of Guatemala, a far-right group of retired soldiers.

Manuel Baldizon | Renewed Freedom Democracy Parties

Manuel Baldizon was born on Isla de Flores, May 6, 1970. He obtained a degree in Legal and Social Sciences in 2000 from the University Mariano Galvez.

Key proposals: An economic growth plan takes priority for Baldizon, to generate employment and push education, and to see to the housing and health crisis.

Accusations: Baldizon has been suspected of corruption and drug trafficking. He headed up the Peten department, a region of drugs’ transit and an area where the Mendozas, one of the main criminal families of Guatemala, hold great influence.

Furthermore, his candidate for vice president, Edgar Baltazar Barquin, was in July Implicated in a fraud money laundering ring.

Sandra Torres | National Unity Party of Hope

Sandra Torres, born Oct. 5, 1955, holds a degree in Communication Sciences and a masters in Public Policy.

Key proposals: Torres would like to create a great national agreement composed of four elements: solidarity, economic development, democratic security, and justice with an effective and transparent government.

Accusations: Her husband, former President Alvaro Colom (2008-2012), is accused by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) of illegally financing political parties. The pair divorced in 2011 to avoid legal restrictions that would prevent Torres from running for president.

Her sister, Gloria Torres, and two of her daughters were accused of embezzlement of funds in three towns.

Torres’ sister also has been linked to drug lord Juan Ortiz, alias “Juan Chamale,” known as the “King of Heroin” in Guatemala.

Source: teleSUR