Yesterday Guatemala elected their next president: Otto Perez Molina of Partido Patriota. This NY Times article does a good job of summing up the election and presenting the challenges facing Molina. How do I feel about it? Well, officially, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I feel nothing. But I think this could mean good things for my community since the mayor they elected is of the same political party as the new president and this could mean better access to resources and support from the national government. I’m also relieved that the political season is over (no more catchy political songs! no more awkward political conversations! no more wasted money on campaign materials!).
I’m also sad. The article mentions the poor voter turnout this time around and a pervading lack of confidence in either of the candidates and I can say that I was able to see this firsthand. Where the first round attracted large crowds and two hour long waits in my community, yesterday the polls were largely empty. While it’s clear that law and order is needed to combat the rising levels of violence and narcotrafficking in the country, people are still hesitant to put their faith in someone that could lead them back towards a military state and the violence of the civil war. On the other hand, the other candidate’s promises (mainly of extra bonuses to workers to help ease family financial troubles) were often referred to as pure “pajas” by many here in site. Most people here just seem completely disheartened by the whole process.
I truly hope that the new president can deliver on his promises and restore the faith of the public in their own country because this is a beautiful, wonderful, interesting country. And it has so much potential.