Low Turnout Farce: Alvaro Colom Takes the Presidency
(Esteban Felix / Associated Press)
Center-left candidate Alvaro Colom beat out right-wing candidate Otto Perez in what should largely be interpreted as a victory for the rural poor of Guatemala. This picture (left) from the Prensa Libre election special (pdf) says it all:
(Click to see the picture in greater detail)
The picture above shows that Colom won the vote in every single rural, poor, and indigenous department in Guatemala. While there were problems with the election I can safely say that I am proud to be a Guatemalan citizen. In my life I have only known a democratic Guatemala, and soon the country will be led by people that have known freedom instead of war.
Renata Avila of Global Voices has a compilation of the challenges Guatemalan bloggers have for the next President. Colom does not have a cakewalk in front of him, that's for sure.
It's been difficult to follow Guatemalan politics from abroad, but it doesn't take much digging to highlight problems with the international press coverage of the country. U.S. press has misinterpreted a narrative of low-voter turnout that has effectively undercut the legitimacy of Colom in the eyes of the international community.
I just voted in Cambridge today in municipal elections that will be lucky to have 25% voter turnout and MSNBC has an entire story dedicated to low voter turnout at 41%? Give me a break.