Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 405 | Abril 2015



The traditional elites in a struggle with the emerging elites

Guatemala isn’t drowning, it’s effervescing. Despite all the crises, there’s hope that this one, a struggle between traditional and emerging elites, will ultimately result in the country’s growth and regeneration. But that will only happen after the system that emerged in 1985 takes its last gasp and dies, making way for another system that is not a child of the military men who won the war and interred the peace accords, among them Otto Pérez Molina, the country’s current President.

Juan Hernández Pico, SJ

What has been happening in Guatemala these past few months could be called an assault on all branches of government. The traditional and emerging powers are locked in a struggle for the State’s institutional spaces.

Diversification in the creation and appropriation of wealth in Guatemala, caused by the emergence of new economic and political power groups, is generating a crisis with diverse consequences throughout the State and causing conflict in society.

A three-way struggle

With the exception of Álvaro Colom’s, the successive governments since 1985 have consistently represented the traditional oligarchy’s economically powerful groups and some of the emerging economic groups. Today’s government of retired General Otto Pérez Molina has two additional sources of the appropriation of wealth: organized crime and drug trafficking on the one hand, and the emerging bourgeoisie with its businesses in transport, construction, real estate and contraband on the other.

That then gives us three groups: the traditional oligarchy that still controls financial power and the Court of Constitutionality (let’s not forget the annulment of the sentence against Ríos Montt); organized and narco-crime,
and the emerging bourgeoisie. In fact, however, we can assume that drug trafficking has also infiltrated both the other power groups. In addition, more than a few people consider that the election of Pérez Molina to the presidency doesn’t only indicate the triumph of a career army officer who took part in the country’s armed struggle, holding an intermediate command in some of the massacres for which Ríos Montt was tried and sentenced, then got involved in the peace talks and signed the accords. They believe it also means the return to government of those who, as active officers, worked in military intelligence: among others Pérez Molina himself, his interior minister Maurio López Bonilla and retired General Ricardo Bustamante.

The assault on all
branches of government

For the first time, the traditional elites lost the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), while the new TSE is on the way to losing its autonomy, betrayed by the power of the emerging elites who elected it. The crises in the commissions that review all applications for the Supreme Court of Justice, among other important posts, demonstrate the struggles between these new de facto powers and even their capacity to form alliances when they believe they’ve found common ground.

Thus, for example, the governing Patriot Party reached an agreement over the Supreme Court appointees with the Renewed Democratic Liberty Party (LIDER), which dominates the opposition. This assault on judicial power comes from the battle to get rid of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who dared to file the case against Ríos Montt. Undoubtedly, she was the most independent and capable of them all and her succession was hard to follow. By failing to include her in the sextet of candidates, the Application Commissions saved President Otto Pérez the embarrassment of not selecting her.

The executive branch has lost credibility due to corruption and its abuse of power, especially by Vice President Roxana Baldetti but also by the entire government team in general, with ministers fired or scandalously named for cronyism and other acts of corruption. Meanwhile, the Congress has wasted time in unproductive sessions that exclusively pursue personal and party interests, with unscrupulous alliances between the parties to achieve their particular gains, such as protected selection of justices, bonuses and loans, vote buying and the election of the new congressional board including none other than former Ríos Montt supporter and wily old politician Aristides Crespo.

Unrest in the country

Social conflict is increasing as we watch this assault on the government. Grassroots movements are finding new strength, especially in the interior of the country, to fight for the most felt needs and demands: the rural development act, the mining act, the plant protection act and the struggles against hydroelectric and extractive projects.

Their protests, however, continue to be criminalized. It’s impossible to forget the anti-riot police’s violent break-up of resistance against La Puya gold mine in May 2014, or the deadly firing into people resisting the extension to Cementos Progreso in San Juan Sacatepéquez the same year.

And deaths from criminal violence—drug trafficking, gangs, extortion, etc.—continue to increase despite all the propaganda by the Ministry of the Interior announcing new measures to combat it.

Guatemala is a prosperous country, even with a certain middle class, and grassroots movements are gaining strength because many people are now less dependent on the oligarchy and big farmers. These days corruption isn’t only the preserve of the government, which does what it likes without subterfuge, but also of institutions that once had a social conscience and considerable scientific development, such as the University of San Carlos (USAC).

Guatemala isn’t drowning,
it’s effervescing

Despite all the crises, the many abuses and unconstitutionality, hope exists that the current crisis will turn out to be one of growth and regeneration. In some analyses, this regeneration will come only after the current system that emerged in 1985 takes its last gasp and dies, making way for another system that is not a child
of the military men who won the war and interred the peace accords they had been given no choice but to sign.

Among those signers was the current President, who appointed Antonio Arenales Forno to lead the Peace Secretariat and Presidential Human Rights Commission. This undeniably astute attorney intends
to destroy the effectiveness of the Peace Accords, disregarding the fact that they have been law since the government of Óscar Berger.

Arenales Forno has closed access to the Peace Archives and argued before the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva that war crimes in Guatemala have exceeded the statute of limitations, knowing full well that there is no limitation for crimes against humanity. Enrique Naveda, director of the e-periodical Plaza Pública, of Guatemala’s Rafael Landívar University, wrote a free e-book about Arenales Forno’s project.

Challenge among the elites
fighting over the government

We’ll try to describe the assault on the government in this bubbling Guatemala by reflecting on the opinion of analyst Fernando Girón, who has been observing the newly emerging elites’ challenge to the traditional Guatemalan elites, those we usually analyze as members of the “oligarchy.” We’ll start with the rupture of the traditional elites’ political-economic hegemony and the challenge tossed down by the appearance of the regular and irregular (read legal and illegal) emerging elites.

One could debate the analytical accuracy of the term “elites” when set against that of “bourgeoisie,” but neither their existence nor their reality can be questioned.

Who are the traditional elites?

Among the most important traditional elites are those based on agro-industry and agro-exports, especially coffee, sugar, rubber, cocoa, cattle and formerly cotton, as well as those who have moved into industries such as brewing or cement and more recently hydroelectric projects, food, extractive industries—oil, gold, silver and nickel—and housing estate and business park construction.

They have all experienced significant commercial development, not only as exporters but also as importers, for example in the area of automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles, and the supermarket sector. And all have set up and developed high-level financial services.

It’s important to note that Guatemala’s relatively large financial institutions—Banco Industrial, Continental-Granai and Tomson, Banco Rural—still have largely Guatemalan shareholders and boards of directors on which sit family members of the country’s oligarchy. Only the Banco Agromercantil (BAM) has been bought by Colombian financial institutions.

The brewing industry is still in the hands of its founding family, the Castillos, although one of its branches reached an agreement with a Brazilian brewery and both have signed distribution agreements with the big multi-national soft-drink corporations (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.) and expanded into snacks. The cement industry is still
in the hands of the Novella family and is struggling to defeat the San Juan Sacatepéquez population’s opposition to the opening of another factory west of the capital, complementing the one in El Progreso in the east. The sugar industry is still mostly in the hands of the Herrera family, which has even expanded through Central America. The liquor (Botrán and Ron Zacapa Centenario) and food (Pollo Campero) industries, which are continuing to grow, are the least traditional of the traditional industries because they didn’t come into existence until the early or mid-20th century. Pollo Campero is now owned by Multi Inversiones S.A. (Gutiérrez and Bosch), whose real estate developments and shopping malls are spectacular.

Some time ago they all set up the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (CACIF), which continues to represent them. The retailers’ association withdrew a few years ago but recently returned to the fold. There is much talk about a certain social conscience among the younger generations of some of these families, but their overall reaction to the sentence against Ríos Montt, expressed through CACIF, shows that the weight of age still predominates.

Guatemala’s Presidents for most of the years of what is known as the second democratic age (1985 to the present) represented these interests politically, especially Vinicio Cerezo (1986-1991), Ramiro De León Carpio (1993-1996), Álvaro Arzú (1996-2000) and Óscar Berger (2004-2008).

And who are the
emerging elites?

Challenging the might of these traditional elites are the so-called emerging elites, the first of whom came from the Army. I’ll return to Fernando Girón’s analysis, breaking it down at my peril.

The armed forces became one of the State’s main active protagonists in 1963 with the coup led by Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia to prevent the elections in which Juan José Arévalo, the first President (1945-1950) of the decade-long first democratic age, planned to run for reelection. Peralta Azurdia then organized the 1966 presidential elections, won by Julio César Méndez Montenegro, former dean of law at the University of San Carlos (USAC) and candidate for the Partido Revolucionario following the assassination of his brother Mario. According to his Vice President, Clemente Marroquín, in an interview by La Hora, Méndez Montenegro was only allowed to take office after promising not to interfere with the Army’s fight against the November M-13 guerrillas and the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR).

The cruel and implacable campaign waged by Colonel Carlos Arana Osorio in Zacapa and Izabal destroyed that first guerrilla movement, though failing to eradicate it. His notoriety as a “butcher” and the efforts of then-Archbishop Mario Casariego ensured that President Méndez Montenegro dared to get Arana out of the country, disguised as an ambassador to Nicaragua under the Somoza dynasty.

The IPM, Army Bank and FTN

Arana Osorio returned from Nicaragua as a presidential candidate and won in 1970. It was during his government, in 1972, that the Military Social Security Institute (IPM) and the Banco del Ejército, an army bank, were created It was also when the Northern Transversal Strip (FTN) began to open up from the Petén on Guatemala’s border with Belize, passing through Alta Verapaz to northern Quiché and then on to Huehuetenango.

Pensions for retired soldiers, investments in the Banco del Ejército and the opening up of the FTN allowed newly wealthy military men and landowners to emerge on both sides of the FTN, in Alta Verapaz and the Petén. Concessions to oil companies in both those areas began to be awarded during that first military government (1970-1974), with handsome profits for officers through bribes or other means.

It’s worth remembering that President Arana’s minister of the interior, one of the cruelest and most repressive in Guatemala’s history, was Roberto Herrera Ibargüen, co-owner of one of the biggest fortunes in the country, dating back to the time of Justo Rufino Barrios (1871-1986), when his grandfather, Manuel María Herrera, was minister of development.

This shows the complexity of the situation: the oligarchical elites were represented in a military government that protected their interests, although it simultaneously worked for its own, even extorting captains of industry such as the Novella family by abducting one of their members.

The agreement on agrarian policy in the 1996 Peace Accords required the military men to return to the State the estates they had wrongly expropriated, so it could start to build a new rural development economy. None of this has been fulfilled.

Subsets of the emerging “elites”

Contrabandists: It’s known that Juan Francisco Reyes López’s father built his fortune with a fleet of trucks moving contraband between Guatemala and Mexico. It’s also evident that Reyes López’s inheritance from his father helped him exercise his political intelligence until reaching the vice presidency of Guatemala during President Alfonso Portillo’s term (2000-2004).

Alfredo Moreno Molina, who spent many years as a Finance Ministry bureaucrat building a massive contraband network, fell prisoner during Álvaro Arzú’s presidency. Several military officers, among them General Luis Francisco Ortega Menaldo, were found to be so involved in that network that Arzú’s defense minister, General Julio Balconi, discharged him and others from the Army.

Moreno Molina’s network worked out of Panama and began to defraud the tax authorities in customs to introduce not only liquors, perfumes and other luxury merchandise, but also drugs. Once drugs start coming in as illegal commerce we’re already talking about another planet with respect to benefits. Moreno Molina died
of cardiac arrest before he could serve the sentence he received.

Service providers: Services have been the source of growth for another branch of the emerging elites, with huge amounts of money from contraband and other prohibited trafficking invested in hotels, tourism, inter-Central American bus lines, restaurants, highways to tourist resorts, etc. It’s also likely that money laundering has been involved in these investments.

It was terrible to discover through Roberto Saviano’s book Cero Cero Cero how cocaine governs the world, how major US banks such as Wachovia or Citi, the New York Bank and the British giant HSBC have confessed to having accepted money from the big Mexican drug lords, especially the Sinaloa cartel, enabling their money-laundering. The declarations by HSBC have gone around the world in the press. According to the BBC program “Panorama,” former top HSBC executive Stephen Green, an ordained Anglican priest who authored the book Serving God? Serving Mammon?—he would get to his London parish every week to deliver his sermon no matter where he was—and today sits in the House of Lords, was HSBC chairman in Switzerland at the time that branch helped more than 100,000 clients from some 200 countries evade hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Such confessions lend credibility to the rumors circulating in Guatemala about money laundering in relatively large national banks.

Drug traffickers: Another branch of these emerging elites is that of the instrumental “families” of the huge drug cartels. The term “instrumental” is used here because none of them—not the Lorenzanas, nor Otto Herrera, nor Linares Cordón nor Walther Overdick can really be called a drug lord in the style of Pablo Escobar, Chapo Guzmán and others from Colombia or Mexico.

Without their complicity and their increasing wealth and power, however, it wouldn’t be possible to maintain the efficient mobility of the corridor that leads from Colombia, the greatest cocaine producer, to the United States, its greatest consumer, crossing Central America and Mexico. It is in that corridor that a war without quarter is being fought in pursuit of the major drug lords, a war the United States has no interest in transferring to its own territory.

For some time now major figures from the Guatemalan Army, such as retired General Luis Francisco Ortega Menaldo, married to a daughter of deceased former President General Carlos Arana Osorio, and other members of the select club of Army Intelligence (D2) have been described as having important interests in drug-trafficking operations.

Over a decade ago numerous coffee farms in San Marcos were abandoned due to the low international prices at the time, leaving the worker-settlers and their families jobless. Air strips were built on a number of these farms for small planes transporting drugs; their nighttime landing was lit by rows of the peons from the farms holding torches, who earned in a night what would have taken a whole season to earn as migrant coffee pickers in Chiapas, Mexico. And in the foothills of the towering Tacaná and Tajumulco volcanoes of the same department of San Marcos, poppies began to be planted to use for making opium and heroin.

Now that he’s President of Guatemala, Patriot Party founder Otto Pérez Molina has become an advocate of legalizing drugs. Cars in which even his own family members were travelling were attacked twice: once in February 2001 when his wife was unhurt but his daughter was injured, and four months earlier, when the same thing happened to his son and daughter-in-law.

Lawyers: It did not go unnoticed that the Supreme Court, now more removed from the interests of the traditional elites, elected as its president the first indigenous lawyer to reach such heights: former member of the representatives of the San Miguel Totonicapán cantons. In fact legal figures who defend the interests of the emerging elites and are now competing for the enormous fees charged by the traditional elites’ lawyers is yet another branch of the new elites being created. They form part of a circle of professionals who include executors of the “new” fortunes that have proliferated. Some of them are of dubious reputation, such as those who have turned the back rooms of their law offices into centers for processing illegal adoptions.

Holders of public posts. The lush tree of the emerging elites probably has other branches as well, but one of notable importance is that of the holders of top government posts. The chance to work in any of these government institutions is another source of illicit enrichment, which creates nouveaux riches in competition with the traditional elites. Serious accusations have been leveled against National Congress representatives, judges and customs directors, among others.

At least one Guatemalan President, Alonso Portillo, and one Salvadoran President, ARENA’s Francisco Flores, have been accused of illicit enrichment, keeping for themselves or their political friends money offered by Taiwan to their countries. Portillo was also accused of laundering that money in the United States, found guilty
in the Guatemalan courts then extradited and sentenced to prison. Now having served that sentence he has returned to Guatemala, where he has been absolved of the improper appropriation of multimillion funds from the Banco Nacional de Crédito Hipotecario. It’s not clear how his activity will influence the next elections. Flores, currently in prison, still has a trial pending in El Salvador after having defended himself by alleging that he had given out the Taiwanese money “in little sacks” to his municipal followers, thus freeing himself from the obligation to deposit it in the national treasury.

The case of the “Tennis King”

Perhaps the most notable case in the competition to establish a nouveau riche elite in Guatemala is that of Sergio Roberto López Villatoro, known as the “Tennis King.” Borrn in the town of Cuilco, Huehuetenango, a department bordering with México, he surely learned the contraband tradition that in many border municipalities is “a way of life.” López Villatoro’s father started D’Lovi, the area’s largest store, and today, its main warehouse outlet, situated on the Paseo de la Reforma, opposite the US Embassy, sells brand name tennis shoes and boots, although it’s not known if they’re authentic or “replicas,” as those in the business call it. What is known is that it made him a multimillionaire. Hence his nickname.

López Villatoro, once married to General Ríos Montt’s daughter Zury Ríos, a four-term legislator starting in 1996, is now a star lobbyist of what are known in Guatemala as “Postulating Commissions,” whose role is to review and propose candidates to Congress for the Supreme Court, Appellate Courts, Attorney General’s Office, Comptroller General’s Office, Court of Constitutionality and Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Originally these commissions were small institutional groups, but during Ramiro de León Carpio’s term in office he created them in their current form by extending participation in them to the College of Lawyers of Guatemala and the universities—specifically rectors and Law School deans.

It was then that groups were legalized to lobby them, and given his privileged position López Villatoro has now become the creator of “presenters” for these commissions that postulate new “kings.” Carlos Castresana, the first director of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, set up by the United Nations in 2006, denounced López Villatoro’s lobbying as corrupt for buying commission member’s votes.

The Tennis King’s lobbying, naturally together with other influences, achieved its greatest victories last year. Analysts agree that for the first time in the second phase of Guatemala’s democratic-electoral history, the candidates presented to Congress for the Attorney General’s Office, Supreme Court and Appeals Courts, Supreme Electoral Tribunal and Comptroller Generals’ Office were no longer mostly allied to the traditional elites. All were largely allies of the emerging elites. Especially important was the exclusion of Claudia Paz y Paz from the candidacy list for attorney general and the election of her successor Telma Aldana. Equally important was the negotiation between the leaders of the governing Patriot Party and of LIDER, the main opposition party, to elect a Supreme Court distanced from the interests of the traditional elites.

Who will succeed Pérez Molina?

This year Guatemala will elect a new President and Vice President, a whole new Congress and all municipal mayors. It is often said in Guatemala that the loser in the previous election is the winner in the next one. This has been true since 1996, almost 20 years. Will Otto Pérez Molina be succeeded by his defeated competitor in 2012, Manuel Baldizón Méndez?

Before offering a tentative answer to this question, let’s analyze the list of Presidents in the democratic-electoral period that began when the military regimes started to hand over their power with the Constituent Elections of 1985 and the resulting Constitution that has now been in effect for 30 years. Of those military governments, one of them (Arana, 1970-1974) was elected, the two that followed it (Laugerud and Lucas, 1974-1982) won through fraud and the last two (Ríos Montt and Mejía Víctores, 1982-1986) came to power through coups.

It can be said that President Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo (1996-2001) was fundamentally supported by the traditional elites, despite being a member of Guatemalan Christian Democracy (DCG). Jorge Carpio Nicolle, who looked like he would take the presidency in the 1991 elections, had the same alignment, although he had been
a losing candidate of the Union of the National Center (UCN), further right than the DCG in theory. But the winner was Jorge Serrano Elías, a convert from Catholicism to the fundamentalist Neo-Pentecostalism of El Shadday Church. That election can be considered an attempt by the evangelicals to throw down deeper roots in Guatemala, where, prior to Ríos Montt, being Catholic had always been politically correct. As a matter of fact, Serrano Elías’ foreign minister was Álvaro Arzú, a Catholic and representative of the traditional elites.

In 1993 Serrano Elias’s authoritarian fundamentalism—he had been Council of State president under Ríos Montt—led him to attempt his own “Fujimorazo,” a reproduction of the self-coup by Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori, who shut down Congress, suspended the Constitution and purged the judiciary. Unlike Fujimori, however, Serrano Elías didn’t get away with it; he was forced to resign and Congress elected Ramiro De León Carpio, Jorge Carpio Nicolle cousin, at the time the country’s human rights ombudsperson, to finish out Serrano’s term. De León Carpio’s alignment could also be analyzed as linked to the traditional elites, as is even truer of his successor, Álvaro Arzú (1996-2000).

Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004) is the first President who can be defined as aligned with the emerging elites, especially through his links to military officers such as Ortega Menaldo, Jacobo Salam and Napoleón Rojas. Let’s remember that Portillo had been elected to Congress by the DCG. His successor, Óscar Berger Perdomo (2004-2008), clearly recovered the alignment with the traditional elites.

Álvaro Colom: A watershed figure

The presidency of Álvaro Colom (2008-2012) may have been a watershed. On one side he himself had given signs of wanting to be a transition toward a politics more in line with the memory of his uncle, Manuel Colom Argueta, Guatemala City’s mayor during the presidency of General Arana. Colom Argueta had been a very able politician who knew how to maintain the social democratic vision of his movement, the United Revolutionary Front, in the midst of the repressive militarist terror. He was assassinated in 1979 by the military during the presidency of General Fernando Romeo Lucas (1978-1982).

Perhaps the clearest sign of Álvaro Colom’s objective was the name he gave his party: National Unity of Hope (UNE). His wife, Sandra Torres, who came from a middle-class family from the southern part of the Petén, went well beyond the limits of a charity-oriented First Lady, setting herself up as the promoter of a serious attempt
at a socially oriented food and education policy. She wanted to be the next President, but the Constitutional Tribunal prevented her candidacy, interpreting her eleventh-hour divorce as only a maneuver to sidestep the Constitution, which defined her affinity with the incumbent President as ruling out her immediate candidacy.

Pérez Molina and
the military “elite”

Finally we come to the current presidency of Pérez Molina (2012-2016), who clearly represents one of the branches of the emerging elites… and the oldest. His presidency has meant the return of military intelligence experts to government. He himself had been director of the Army’s D2. It is often said that of this particular series of officers who passed through the top levels of Army intelligence, the ones grouped in “La Cofradía” (the Brotherhood), were most in favor of militarily defeating the guerrilla movement outright. Ortega Menaldo is usually named as its leader. Others leaned toward accepting the peace negotiations “suggested” by the US and other countries. They were grouped in “El Sindicato” (the Syndicate) whose leader is said to have been Pérez Molina.

If Baldizón wins...

If LIDER’s Manuel Baldizón is elected President, he will assume the post at age 45 and will clearly be another ruler coming out of the emerging elite.

Baldizón is a hotelier with multi-million tourist investments in the Petén who has a doctorate in law from Guatemala’s San Carlos University—an important part of his dissertation content was recently found to have been plagiarized, suggesting that he’s one of those nouveaux riches capable of the trickery of any second-rate lawyer. He has repeatedly been called to order by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for launching his campaign before the tribunal had even called for the elections or set a date for the opening of the campaign. The LIDER party’s blood-red color has already drenched all rocks and tree trunks along the Pan-American Highway from the Valle Nuevo border with El Salvador at least as far as Guatemala City, the capital. And all around the city a foundation that supports him has erected immense billboards either with the same red or Guatemala’s blue and one of these two slogans: “What Guatemala needs is an expert LIDER in creating JOBS” or “We want WORK not promises.” Any fines imposed by the tribunal won’t make even a tiny dent in his fortune.

If Sandra Torres wins...

If as a result of a notable change in public opinion Sandra Torres running on the UNE ticket should be elected President, we would still have a person who comes from this emerging elite. But there’s no shortage of adventuresome opinions that the traditional elites see her as a lesser evil than Baldizón, given that she can’t be viewed as a “nouveau riche.”

They even see her as an improvement over Alejandro Sinibaldi, whose name links him back to the fleeting successor to Justo Rufino Barrios after the latter’s death in the battle of Chalchuapa in El Salvador (1885) and hence to the oligarchy, although his alliance with Pérez Molina has dulled the luster his surname could have provided him. Of the governing Patriotic Party, Sinibaldi was communications minister until several months ago, a post he also filled with lackluster. He was defeated for the post of mayor of Guatemala City by Álvaro Arzú.

What do the polls say?

In February Vox Latina conducted a poll presenting voters with photos of all the candidates with their name and party and asked that they mark which one they would vote for if the elections were held that same day. Manuel Baldizón came out with 33.6%, Sandra Torres with 12.9%, Alejandro Sinibaldi with 10.9%, Roberto González of Commitment, Renewal and Order (CREO) in alliance with Álvaro Arzú’s Unionist Party (PU) with 4.2%, Roberto Alejos of the TODOS (All) Party with 2.8%, and current government minister Mauricio López Bonilla with 2.6%. A weighty 33% were still undecided.

The gap between Baldizón and those trailing him seems pretty big, although it’s equal in weight to those who have yet to make up their mind. At the end of last year the polls showed him with a possible victory in the first round with second place going to Sinibaldi, but that has now shifted. The campaign officially opens in May and the first round of voting will be in September, with the second round, if needed, in November. It remains to be seen what
the electoral results will germinate in this effervescing country.

Juan Hernández Pico, sj, is the envío correspondent in Guatemala.

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