It’s been quite the year for politics in America with Donald Trump — despite his arrogance and bigotry — attaining a front runner status among Republican candidates. Ben Carson, the Detroit neurosurgeon, isn’t much further behind. Together, they are polling the highest of any other Republican candidates and yet neither of them have any actual experience in politics. However, the United States isn’t the only country where political elections have seen alternative, non-political candidates making headway.
On Oct. 25, The New York Times reported that voters in Guatemala have elected a former comedian to lead their struggling country. Jimmy Morales won by a landslide, receiving about 70 percent of the vote against his former first lady rival Sandra Torres. On Sunday, The 46-year-old Morales, who ran on the slogan “Not corrupt, nor a thief,” said, “With this vote you made me president. I have received a mandate, and the mandate of the people of Guatemala is to fight against the corruption that has consumed us.”
In her concession, Torres said, “We recognize Jimmy Morales’ triumph and we wish him success. Guatemala has serious problems, but the people made their choice and we respect it.”
Guatemala has struggled with corrupt politicians for years, Sunday’s victory for Morales, a political outsider that took advantage of the country’s growing distrust for its politicians and political system, put to rest a six month struggle to oust former President Otto Pérez Molina. Molina is currently being held in military barracks as he awaits his trial for corruption, including the taking of bribes in exchange for decreasing the taxes on imports.
Morales promised Guatemalans that he would strengthen controls and build a more transparent government. “All the elements for auditing available to the presidency and vice presidency are going to be put to work,” he said, according to FOX News.
“I have nothing but a big heart swollen with love for this country,” Morales told voters just days ahead of election day. Apparently, for Guatemalans, Morales’ sympathy and enthusiasm to restore his great country was enough to win their hearts — and their votes.
Morales will have to do more than promise change, he will need to prove that he can rebuild trust amongst Guatemalan citizens who have witnessed their country’s demise under previous administrations. Corruption, crime, extreme income inequality and the chronic malnourishment of nearly half of the country’s children have plagued Guatemala for years; Morales will have to make serious headway to alleviate Guatemala from its shaky political history.