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guatemala corruption

Jimmy Morales has been elected as Guatemala’s president after winning the runoff vote in the country’s presidential election.

The former comedian has no experience in government.

Jimmy Morales polled 72% against former Guatemala first lady Sandra Torres, who is seen by many as part of the country’s unpopular political elite.

Sandra Torres admitted defeat before all the votes were counted, as the margin of Jimmy Morales’ lead became clear.

The vote took place a month after the resignation and arrest of President Otto Perez Molina.

Otto Perez Molina is accused of leading a corrupt network of politicians and customs officials.

Photo TeleSUR

Photo TeleSUR

The former president denies involvement in a scheme which saw businessmen pay bribes to evade customs charges.

Many voters see Jimmy Morales as a fresh start following nationwide protests that ousted Otto Perez Molina.

“As president I received a mandate, and the mandate of the people of Guatemala is to fight against the corruption that is consuming us. God bless and thank you,” said Jimmy Morales after the count.

However, turnout was low, despite calls for voters to help Guatemala overcome a serious political crisis.

Sandra Torres ran government social programs when her ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president between 2008 and 2012.

Jimmy Morales has regaled voters with stories about his humble origins and jokes from a 14-year period on a TV comedy show.

He has been criticized for some of his more far-fetched policies which include the tagging of teachers with a GPS device to ensure they attend classes and giving each Guatemalan child an iPhone.

Jimmy Morales’ manifesto is only six pages – giving few indications as to how he might run the country – but he is known to favor low taxes and limited government.

One of his most famous comedy roles was that of a useless cowboy who becomes president by accident.

Jimmy Morales faces a difficult task as his National Convergence Front (FCN) will have just 11 out of 158 seats in the next Congress.

Critics accuse Jimmy Morales of having no program and no team, just the ability to exploit voter grievances.

His rise in the polls has been attributed to his targeting of public sector corruption which has engulfed the government.

One investigation found that former President Otto Perez Molina and his vice president were at the center of the customs scam. Both deny any involvement.

Otto Perez Molina was impeached, deprived of his presidential immunity and arrested in September. He is now in jail awaiting trial.

Voters in Guatemala are heading to the polls in presidential elections amid a deep political crisis.

Former President Otto Perez Molina resigned this week and was swiftly arrested over a customs fraud scheme.

Many people in the Latin American country have called for the polls to be postponed in the wake of the allegations.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Leading contenders include centre-right businessman Manuel Baldizon and comic actor Jimmy Morales.

If no candidate wins 50% of the vote there will be a second round of voting on October 25.

There have been calls for Guatemalans to wear black clothes of mourning as they cast their vote, amid skepticism that the poll can achieve political change.

Prosecutors accuse Otto Perez Molina of masterminding a scheme in which businessmen paid bribes to evade customs charges. The former president denies involvement.


Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has appeared in court after spending his first night in prison.

Otto Perez Molina, 64, rejected allegations that he was the mastermind of a customs corruption scheme dubbed La Linea, or The Line.

At least 100 people are being investigated over the scheme.

A judge in Guatemala City ordered his detention on September 3 while hearings over the corruption allegations took place.

After a second day of hearings, Otto Perez Molina was again taken from court to a military prison in the capital.

Otto Perez Molina addressed the court on September 4.

“The first thing I want to deny: I don’t belong to La Linea,” he said.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

The former president denied taking any bribes and promised to co-operate with the investigation.

“Your honor, I am not going to risk my dignity, my work, nor all the effort I have made for Guatemala in return for $800,000,” he said, in reference to the amount prosecutors say he received illegally.

Investigators say the scheme involved businesses paying bribes to government officials and customs officers in return for being allowed to evade import duties.

Otto Perez Molina reminded the court that he had rejected much higher bribe offers from the fugitive Mexican drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman in 1993.

The former president led the operation that led to his arrest in Guatemala.

“After his capture, I was offered 10, 15 times more than that amount in bribes [to let him go]. I didn’t do it because that goes against my principles,” Otto Perez Molina said.

Shorty Guzman, who is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, was extradited to Mexico, but escaped from a high security jail for a second time earlier this year.

Guatemala’s Congress stripped Otto Perez Molina of his immunity from prosecution on September 1.

That opened the way for criminal charges to be brought against him.

Vice-President Alejandro Maldonado was sworn in as interim head of state ahead of elections on September 6 after Otto Perez Molina resigned on September 3.

Alejandro Maldonado is expected to govern until the new president is sworn in on January 14.

Guatemalans go to the polls on September 6 to take part in scheduled general elections.

Otto Perez Molina is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

Alejandro Maldonado had only been in the post of vice-president since mid-May, when his predecessor Roxana Baldetti resigned.

Roxana Baldetti is accused of involvement in the same corruption scheme that Otto Perez Molina is said to have masterminded. She is also being held in prison.

Otto Perez Molina’s resignation on September 3 and arrest are a huge victory for an unprecedented anti-corruption protest movement that had swelled in recent months, with regular marches in Guatemala’s major cities.


Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina has resigned hours after a judge issued an arrest warrant against the leader in connection to a growing corruption scandal that has plunged the country into its worst political crisis since the end of a brutal civil war.

Presidential spokesman Jorge Ortega has confirmed in a statement on September 3 that the president has stepped down.

On September 1, Guatemala’s congress voted to remove Otto Perez Molina’s immunity from prosecution amid corruption allegations.

Prosecutors accuse the president of masterminding a scheme to defraud the customs service of millions of dollars, allegations he denies.

The judge has barred Otto Perez Molina from leaving the country.Otto Perez Molina resigns as Guatemala president

The president, whose term runs out in January, will now be summoned to appear before a court.

The detention order was signed by Judge Miguel Angel Galvez, the prosecutor’s office said.

On September 1, all members of congress present at the vote endorsed a move to strip Otto Perez Molina of his immunity.

They included members of the president’s own party.

A previous vote to remove Otto Perez Molina’s immunity failed last month.

Since then, more details of the corruption scandal have emerged and calls for the president to resign have increased.

Investigators allege that government officials received a cut from bribes paid by businesses seeking to evade import duties.

Guatemala’s VP Roxana Baldetti and a string of top officials have been forced to resign over the scandal.

Roxana Baldetti is in jail awaiting trial on charges of taking millions of dollars in bribes.

Otto Perez Molina was stripped of his immunity just days before presidential elections on September 6.

Some protesters have demanded that the polls be postponed, but officials argue that it would be against the law.

Otto Perez Molina is barred by the constitution from standing again.


Thousands of Guatemalans have demonstrated in Ciudad de Guatemala, demanding the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina over a corruption scandal.

Businesses, including fast-food chains, were shut in support of the protest.

President Otto Perez Molina is facing impeachment proceedings over the affair, which has seen his former deputy Roxana Baldetti jailed and six cabinet ministers quitting in protest.

He has apologized over the scandal but denies involvement. He is due to step down at the end of his term in January.

Guatemalans are due to vote in just over a week’s time to choose his successor.Guatemala protests August 2015

Investigators have alleged that top government officials received a cut from bribes paid by businesses seeking to evade import duties.

The scandal has been dubbed “La Linea”, or “The Line”, after the hotline businesses allegedly rang to clear their imports through customs at cut-price rates.

UN-backed investigators have accused Otto Perez Molina of direct involvement in the customs scandal.

In a televised address to the nation last week, the president dismissed the allegations and insisted that his conscience was clear.

Former VP Roxana Baldetti has been arrested over her alleged involvement in the affair.

Prosecutors say she took a 50% cut from the bribes. She appeared in court on August 26, denying the charges.

On August 27, marchers took to the streets of Guatemala City, waving placards attacking corruption in the political establishment.

A committee has meanwhile been formed to consider lifting the president’s immunity from prosecution.

The committee was created after Guatemala’s Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for prosecutors to request impeachment proceedings.

Major business and religious leaders are supporting calls for President Otto Perez Molina to resign.


Guatemala’s ex-VP Roxana Baldetti has appeared in court accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes in a scandal that has rocked the government.

According to prosecutors, Roxana Baldetti took a 50% cut of illegal payments channeled to officials helping businesses evade customs duties.

Roxana Baldetti was arrested last week over the scheme and denies wrongdoing.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

Addressing the nation on August 23, Otto Perez Molina rejected any link to the scandal and said his conscience was clear.

Eight members of his government have resigned over the allegations and nearly 30 people detained.

In court, Roxana Baldetti – who resigned in May – spoke to confirm her identity, taking notes as prosecutors played some of the wiretapped conversations that led to her detention.

The bribery scam has become known as “La Linea”, or “The Line”, after the hotline businesses allegedly rang to clear their imports through customs at cut-price rates.

Presidential elections are being held in early September, but electoral law bars Otto Perez Molina from standing for another term.

President Otto Perez Molina has faced calls to stand down from across Guatemalan society and investigators are seeking to end his immunity from prosecution.