Central America and Caribbean

Back to the Future in the Guatemalan Elections

By Cyril Mychalejko

The September 9 election to replace Guatemalan President Oscar Berger featured more body bags than tangible ideas to improve the country. Now facing a runoff election, voters are left with the tired choice between a military strongman and an oligarch.

The last time Guatemala was a functioning democracy was during Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán's administration, which ended prematurely as a result of a CIA orchestrated coup in June of 1954. In the decades that followed the country suffered under military dictatorships, death squads, genocide and a 36-year civil war that left hundreds of thousands murdered, tortured and disappeared.

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