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Nobody’s Turn: Guatemalans Grow Weary of Politics as Usual

By: Contributor - Jun 2, 2015, 12:19 pm
A growing number of Guatemalans recognize Manuel Baldizón's true colors as a typical Latin-American populist.
A growing number of Guatemalans recognize Manuel Baldizón’s true colors as a typical Latin-American populist. (Nacion.com)

E​spañolWith each passing day, Guatemalans appear to grow more fed up with their politicians, given the seemingly never-ending stream of corruption scandals in the country. Their anger is not only directed at those currently in power but also at the candidates seeking office in the September elections.

General public discontent has become more visible than ever, but some candidates are feeling the heat more than others.

In recent weeks, activists have directed social-media and street protests at Manuel Baldizón, a leading presidential candidate for the conservative-leaning Renewed Democratic Liberty party (LIDER).

As a response to Baldizón’s campaign slogan “Le toca” (His Turn), social-media users flipped his message around with the hashtag #NoLeToca (It’s Not Your Turn). More recently, that message has been expanded, and #NoLeToca has turned into #NoLeTocaANadie (It’s Nobody’s Turn) in Guatemala.

While Baldizón at one time appeared to be “next in line,” having placed second in the 2011 presidential race, his candidacy is quickly losing its appeal in the Guatemalan capital.

In April, Infolatam published a profile on Baldizón based on a US intelligence report on his psychological and political traits. They report dubbed him the “prototype of the Latin-American populist.” The profile states Baldizón is “a clever politician and an expert manipulator, capable of faking emotions,” all personality traits that have been on full display for the Guatemalan public on several occasions.

The report paints a frightening scenario were Baldizón to become head of state: “Political violence, electoral fraud, targeting of the media and the opposition; attacks against the presonal integrity of dissidents; false accusations against those who attack him and the party leadership. [Baldizón] is a political figure with strong perceived and explicit aspirations of becoming a dictator and/or extending his mandate by any means necessary.”

Baldizón has previously demonstrated the lengths he will go to attack political enemies, as evidenced by the smear campaign the media conglomerate tied to Baldizón and the LIDER party launched against several Guatemalan journalists like Juan Luis Font and Pedro Trujillo.

Trujillo wrote in his column for local newspaper Prensa Libre that Baldizón once said he would “kill us [journalists] or kick us out of the country” if he became president.

Furthermore, LIDER party members have reportedly threatened their opposition and torn down the signs of other presidential candidates throughout the country.

Nevertheless, the protests in Guatemala continue, demanding the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina. Beyond that, structural electoral reform is needed to weed out those politicians that could further damage our country.

Translated by Daniel Duarte.