Graft-weary Guatemalans to choose new president

By Jill Replogle

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemalans disgusted with rampant corruption that felled their president are set to vote Sunday in elections many see as meaningless without a vast political system cleanup.

Ironically, out of the blue, the frontrunner in the presidential race is a comedian, Jimmy Morales, a political novice who rose to fame clowning around as a simpleton who accidentally ends up becoming president.

The election — Guatemalans are so fed up with politics-as-usual that turnout could be very low — caps a tumultuous week in the impoverished Central American nation saddled with a bevy of woes.

Otto Pérez Molina, accused of overseeing a massive corruption scheme as president that allegedly milked the customs agency, saw his immunity from prosecution lifted by Congress on Tuesday.

He resigned Wednesday and was promptly arrested on a court order. The elections will take place with him watching from jail as he awaits more legal proceedings. As a criminal suspect, he cannot vote.

Besides grinding poverty and corruption, Guatemalans endure horrific crime rates and powerful, vicious street gangs blamed for giving their country one of the world’s highest murder rates.

Several hundred demonstrators, some dressed in black and carrying cardboard coffins and a tombstone, took to the streets … continue reading

Via:: Tico Times