“Guatemalan Spring”
volume 36
issue 5
October 2015

Corruption in high places has been business-as-usual in Guatemala for 60 years. It’s the reason rich men run for president. However, since April, huge, daily anti-corruption protests have erupted nationwide against President Otto Pérez Molina and his administration. Numerous political appointees have resigned and both the president and vice president are now jailed, charged with taking part in a massive bribery scheme. Fearing revolution, corporate Guatemala has joined the people in the streets in a move to get out ahead of the movement.

Guatemala has an unusually blood-soaked past courtesy of the U.S. In 1954, land reform advocate President Jacobo Árbenz was overthrown in a coup engineered by the CIA. Forty years of rule by the U.S.-trained military and a civil war followed, during which 200,000 people were slaughtered, most of them Maya Indians. Since peace accords in 1996, right-wing parties have continued to win elections through vote-buying and corruption.

Run-off presidential elections will be held Oct. 25. The contestants reflect the limits of electoral reform: a right-wing comedian and a former first lady. Change that benefits the poor majority lies with the development of a radical, grass-roots, working class leadership to confront the whole corrupt economic and political system.

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