Guatemala's Military Man, Nicaragua's Revolutionary

Americas Society, a long-time Tinker Foundation grantee publishes Americas Quarterly, the only magazine dedicated to policy analysis and debate of economics, finance, social development, and politics in the Western Hemisphere.

by Mike McDonald, Americas Quarterly
(Winter 2012 Vol.6/No.1)

The newly elected leaders of Guatemala and Nicaragua are familiar. So are the problems they face.

Guatemala and Nicaragua, two Central American nations grappling with uncertain futures, chose starkly different paths in the November 2011 elections. Their presidents, both inaugurated in mid-January, will face challenges—some of their own doing—in an unstable region with scant resources, fragile public institutions, and the constant threat of organized crime.

Guatemala swore in a hardline former army general as president, the first time that a former military officer has taken power since the end of military rule in 1986. Otto Pérez Molina, 61, of the conservative Partido Patriota (PP), battled leftist guerillas during a 36-year civil war and skated to victory (winning by over 7 percentage points) in a runoff election against Manuel Baldizón of the Libertad Democrática Renovada (LIDER) party. Pérez Molina’s victory represents a swing to the Right after his soft-spoken predecessor—Álvaro Colom, who defeated Pérez Molina in the 2007 election runoff—served as Guatemala’s first left-leaning president since 1954...

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