Magazine article New Internationalist

Fed Up with Corruption

Magazine article New Internationalist

Fed Up with Corruption

Article excerpt

General elections in Guatemala usually follow a predictable pattern of propaganda, violence and despair. This year, two lacklustre centrist candidates - rightwing populist Manuel Baldizón who promises to reintroduce the death penalty, and former first lady Sandra Torres - are vying for the presidency. But the build-up to September's vote has been anything but routine.

Guatemala is facing a political crisis that has seen tens of thousands march against repeated corruption scandals. The movement has toppled a plethora of high-ranking government officials. 'The youth are not willing to tolerate the corruption that earlier generations have grown accustomed to,' says Mario Polanco, a Guatemalan human rights activist.

The exposure - by a UN-backed anti-impunity commission - of a multi-million-dollar customs fraud scheme has led to the arrest of 20 state officials and the resignation of the vicepresident and six ministers.

Subsequent investigations prompted the jailing of the heads of the central bank and social security institute, cast doubts over individuals within the main opposition party and concluded that the country's elections are flush with illegal money.

Guatemala is no stranger to protest, but the latest scandals have prompted an unprecedented display of unity. …

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