Guatemala | Pérez Molina Elected President On His Second Try
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Pérez Molina Elected President On His Second Try
After coming in second in 2007, Otto Pérez Molina was elected president in November 2011, receiving 53.7% of the vote. Pérez Molina beat Manuel Baldizón, a young businessman who was running as a fresh, populist alternative. The leader of the right-wing Patriot Party, Pérez Molina's election was a sign that voters desired change, going against their current centre-left government.
Even though Pérez Molina won the 2011 election, he was seen as a divisive figure during his campaign. A former general, Pérez Molina played a prominent role during the country's civil war. In July 2011, Waqib Kej, a Guatemalan indigenous organization, sent a letter to the United Nations accusing Pérez Molina of genocide and torture in 1982, during the civil war. Some voters feared him for his role in the war and because of the allegations against him. Others did not want the reminder of the country's 1960–96 civil war, in which there were mass murders and approximately 200,000 people died. The first ex-soldier elected since democracy was restored in 1986, Pérez Molina vowed to fight hard against organized crime. This was a huge selling point with some voters because Guatemala has one of the highest murder rates in the world.