BY CHRONICLE STAFF
Guatemala, Central America's largest economy, will likely face few dramatic changes whoever wins the second round of presidential elections, experts say. Meanwhile, Guatemala's next president faces several challenges, ranging from growing insecurity and a splintered congress to reduced remittance growth and a lawsuit from U.S.-based Railroad Development Corporation.
Alvaro Colom, from the social democratic UNE party, received 28.3 percent of the votes in Sunday's first round of presidential elections. Retired general Otto Molina Perez, from the right-of-center Patriot Party, received 23.8 percent, according to preliminary results from Guatemala's electoral tribunal. That means they will face off in the second round, scheduled for November 4th. The winner will assume Guatemala's presidency in January, succeeding Oscar Berger, who could not run for re-election and has been the country's president since January 2004.
While Colom attacks capitalism, Molina Perez pledges to boost Guatemala's competitiveness through more free trade agreements and stronger judicial security. "The General hopes to boost foreign investment in Guatemala with market-friendly policies," says Giancarlo Ibargüen, president of the widely-respected Francisco Marroquin University. "Perez Molina's economic policies are more free-market than Colom's."
Colom, a 56-year old engineer, says that "capitalism is good at creating wealth, but is bad at distributing it." He also says that "the capitalists or the bourgeois are slaves to their wealth, and the poor are slaves to their poverty," according to a statement on UNE's web site. Therefore Colom advocates...
Keywords: Bear Stearns, Exclusive Analysis, Grupo Quilsa, International Monetary Fund, RDC, remittances, security, Planty & Associates