Winds of Change...
By: OMAR SILVA, EDITOR, NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE BELIZE
Belize City: Monday, 21st August 2023
BELIZE CITY – (NP) A wave of transformational change swept across Guatemala on Sunday, as the nation's citizens rallied behind a resolute outsider, Bernardo Arévalo, to declare an emphatic victory in the closely-watched presidential election. Arévalo's ascent to power, driven by a profound disdain for the widespread corruption that has plagued the nation, marks a watershed moment in Guatemala's political history.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal reported the striking figures, with Arévalo, representing the Seed Movement, commanding a sweeping 58% of the votes, while his opponent, former first lady Sandra Torres, trailed behind at 37%. With 99% of the votes counted, Arévalo's triumph sends a powerful message – that the Guatemalan people demand an end to the impunity enjoyed by corrupt politicians and their criminal associates.
Magistrate Blanca Alfaro, a key figure in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, termed Arévalo the "virtual winner," urging a nation torn by political divisions to embark on a process of reconciliation. Arévalo's rallying cry for unity in diversity resonated deeply, promising a government that serves all Guatemalans, irrespective of their differences. This inclusive approach has garnered widespread support, prompting congratulatory messages from regional leaders including outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei, El Salvador's Nayib Bukele, and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The capital's streets became a sea of jubilation as Arévalo's supporters congregated to celebrate the dawning of a new era. Tears of joy flowed as the people realized that their dreams of a prosperous Guatemala, free from the need for migration, were now within reach. Jhamy Lucas, a 27-year-old citizen, emotionally expressed, "I am so happy because I am going to be able to live in my country. I'm not going to have to migrate to survive." Arévalo himself took to social media to proclaim, "Long live Guatemala!"
However, the path to reform is strewn with obstacles. The arduous legal battles and court interventions that marred the previous round of voting in June have left some doubting the prompt certification of these results. Additionally, an ongoing investigation into the Seed Movement's past actions looms, threatening to undermine Arévalo's position.
Arévalo's meteoric rise from a mere 11% of the initial votes in June's first round to amassing over 2.4 million votes in this election underscores the sweeping change in public sentiment. In stark contrast, his rival, Sandra Torres, aligned herself with the deeply unpopular Giammattei administration. Arévalo's affiliation with the progressive Seed Movement struck a chord with a disillusioned electorate, propelling him to an unexpected position in the runoff.
As Guatemala braces for the transition of power on January 14, the nation grapples with enduring challenges. This populous Central American nation, an economic powerhouse of the region, is marred by poverty and violence, forcing countless Guatemalans to seek refuge in the United States. Delmi Espino, a teacher, encapsulated the nation's yearning, asserting, "We want a president who cares about the country. It doesn't matter that we need security, education, or health if you don't fight corruption."
Arévalo's triumph reverberated beyond national boundaries, drawing congratulations from Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. The fervor following this election underscores the potential for citizens united against corruption and inequality to reshape their nation's destiny.
As Guatemala ushers in this transformative chapter, the global gaze remains fixed on Arévalo's commitment to governing for the majority, championing freedom, and upholding the rule of law. While challenges lie ahead, the clarion call for change resounds powerfully, carrying the promise of a brighter future for all Guatemalans.