Top Story — In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Guatemala’s President-elect Jimmy Morales said he will work to strengthen the mandate of domestic and international anti-corruption bodies within the Guatemalan government when he takes office on January 14, after winning a landslide election amid nationwide protests over a massive graft scheme.
Morales said he has already petitioned Guatemalan prosecutors as well as the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to help vet his cabinet. He also promised to extend CICIG’s mandate to 2021.
Investigations led by CICIG with the help of Guatemalan prosecutors led to the resignation and arrest of ex-President Otto Pérez Molina, a former military general, amid a wave of anti-corruption popular protests. Morales, a television comedian, rode that sentiment and claims of being a political outsider to claim 67 percent of the vote in the October 25th run-off presidential election against former first lady Sandra Torres.
Despite this overwhelming political mandate, doubts have been raised over what critics see as Morales’ lack of concrete policy positions and his ability to pass legislation as the head of his party, the National Convergence Front, which holds just 11 of 158 seats in the Congress. Founded in 2004 by military officers who, similar to Pérez Molina, participated in anti-insurgency campaigns against Marxist guerrillas during the 1980’s Civil War, the FCN has attempted to “restore dignity” to the military within the country and minimize the prosecution of military officials.
Morales has claimed that he will not appoint any former military commanders to his cabinet with the exception of the defense ministry. Nevertheless, after the election, one political analyst predicted Morales would be forced to strike up alliances with the same elites who supported Pérez Molina.
In a recent interview with Morales, Univisión anchor Jorge Ramos asked the president-elect to detail his personal wealth and to promise that by the end of his term he would not be further enriched.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The mayor of Cocula in Mexico’s Guerrero state has been placed under house arrest after authorities caught him meeting with the alleged leader of a drug gang. The Cocula municipality was the alleged site of the incineration of 43 students from a Guerrero teacher-training school, according to a controversial government account of the students’ disappearances.
- The Havana International Fair, a week-long trade show marked by contrast the Cuban government’s official suspicion of open markets, has attracted attention this year due to the participation of 20 major U.S. corporations.
- A leading Puerto Rican physician said Tuesday that the United States’ reduction of health care funds for the territory has contributed to an exodus of Puerto Rican doctors, and that many healthcare practitioners on the island plan to protest the cutbacks.
- The results of Haiti’s presidential elections, which took place on Oct. 25, will not be released until Thursday, stoking claims of fraud and mismanagement.
- Thousands of starving crocodiles kept on the farm of the wealthy Honduran Rosenthal family were fed for the first time on Tuesday after the U.S. government froze the family’s assets due to money laundering allegations.
- Colombian troops killed 12 members of the powerful Usuga Clan gang in the state of Antioquia.
- Peace talks in Colombia could extend past an agreed-upon March deadline, as negotiators still need to debate how justice will be delivered for crimes committed during the conflict, the FARC commander codenamed Carlos Antonio Lozada said Tuesday.
- McDonald’s french fries reappeared in Venezuela on Monday after a nearly year-long absence following an 85 percent drop in potato imports in 2014, a challenge the company overcame by purchasing them locally.
- Reuters examines the situation facing Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, who last week spoke out in an effort to quell long-standing rumors he will soon resign in the face of a difficult task: helping push through an austerity package despite widespread opposition.
- The former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation José Maria Marin plead not guilty to corruption charges in New York after his extradition from Switzerland, where he was arrested with six other FIFA officials in May.