A lot has happened in the past week.
My last post ended with a nationwide protest, a president who refused to step down, and the Guatemalan people pleading with congress to amass the votes needed to strip immunity away from the president.
On September 1, Congress did indeed vote to strip immunity from Otto Perez Molina (OPM). All present voted in favor – of course, not all congressmen and women were present. Here, if someone wants to try to stall a vote, they simply don’t show up to work. A number of people did not show, but in the end it did not matter.
On September 2, OPM resigned and submitted himself to the rule of law. His Vice President was sworn in as president and congress is searching for yet another VP. These two will serve out the previous Pres and VP’s terms – until Jan 14.
On September 3, OPM was summoned to court and was mandated to prison to await charges and a trial. (A must read article on this story was written by Francisco Goldman, author of “The Art of Political Murder.”)
Is this the end of the story? NO.
Elections were scheduled and held today for the next president, who will take office in January. The problem? Most of the candidates are equally as corrupt, if not MORE corrupt than the current/previous/jailed government. Guatemala has a history of voting in the loser from the previous election, in this case a man named Manuel Baldizon – not an upstanding fellow in the eyes of Guatemalans. His party has the most registered complaints of bribing people for votes and has been campaigning illegally for years. Fines don’t matter when the funds are unlimited – and people do wonder, where do those funds come from?
Alongside protests for resignations that saw fruition, Guatemalans were protesting “No Te Toca” or, it’s not your turn!
The Guatemalan people want months and months of demonstrations to mean something. They want the resignations and legal proceedings to mean something. They don’t want another corrupt politician to step in.
Right now, we are waiting results from the initial rounds of elections. It’s doubtful that a winner will be announced, as the winner needs at least 50% of the popular vote. Likely, the top two will advance to a run off election in October.
Within hours, we’ll find out if the protests really changed Guatemala from the inside out – did it change perspectives at the polls? For the sake of a people longing for, crying out for change, I sincerely hope it did.