In An Eerie Imitation of America’s Elections, A Stand-Up Comedian May Win In Guatemala

Those looking for relief from the reality show that has become America’s presidential election may find more entertainment in Guatemala. On 3 September Otto Perez Molina, the president of Central America’s largest economy, resigned from office amidst criminal charges involving a customs racket. With the former incumbent now in prison, Guatemalan voters went to the polls just three days later to elect a new head of state. It appears Jimmy Morales, a 46-year-old comedian who took a seemingly impulsive plunge into politics, may actually be set to come out on top. In a possible attempt to replicate the proven campaign formula of a certain billionaire norteamericano candidate, Morales has thus far avoided providing voters with anything resembling a political agenda . The comic has instead campaigned solely on a handful of patriotic platitudes and a simple slogan “Not corrupt, not a thief.” Which, to be fair, was good enough for Jimmy Carter.

Morales’ competition includes an opposition party congressman and the ex-wife of a former President. If none of these candidates wins more than 50 percent of the ballots, a run-off will be held on 25 October. Protesters have filled Guatemala City’s Constitution Square since April demanding Perez’s resignation. The scandal which initially incited this public outcry is known as “La Linea,” (“the line”), named after the phone number that government kleptocrats would call to divert millions in customs revenue into their own private bank accounts.

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