Presidential Elections in Guatemala and Nicaragua

As expected, retired General Otto Perez Molina of the conservative Partido Patriotico won the run-off election in Guatemala.  With 98% of the votes counted, Perez Molina finished with 54% of the vote to Manuel Baldizon’s 46%. Perez Molina is the first military officer to serve as president of Guatemala in 25 years; however, unlike his predecessors who took power in a coup, Perez Molina won through open democratic practices.

In Nicaragua, in an outcome that’s equally unsurprising, Daniel Ortega has won a third term as president. However, that election has not gone as smoothly; with only 36% of the votes counted, Ortega was already claiming victory with 65% of the vote total. Additionally independent outside observers were prevented from monitoring the full elections, and accusations of a lack of transparency are already being leveled at the administration, with the opposition threatening to not recognize the official results. Additionally, a second Ortega term means it is unlikely women are unlikely to see any improvements in their rights or status in society, as the first Ortega term oversaw the enforcement of a 2006 law banning all abortions and the Sandinista-led Supreme Court’s downgrading of rape to a crime of passion.

It will be worth watching both countries going forward to see how a democratically-elected general leads a country with a devastating history of military violence against civilians in the case of Guatemala, and to see what the outcome of the election investigations and a second consecutive Ortega term looks like in the case of Nicaragua.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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