- Title: GUATEMALA: Presidential candidates promise security amid spiralling drug violence
- Date: 10th September 2011
- Summary: GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA (SEPTEMBER 08, 2011) (REUTERS) (*** FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY ***) VARIOUS OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FOR THE PATRIOTIC PARTY OTTO PEREZ WITH SUPPORTERS AT RALLY PEREZ SPEAKING TO SUPPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FOR THE PATRIOTIC PARTY, OTTO PEREZ SAYING: "This is a rite that I accept, that I am going to fight with character and with a firm hand in front of the institutions to bring peace and security and defend the lives of all Guatemalans so we can live with security as we deserve." PEREZ ON RALLY STAGE WITH CANDIDATE FOR GUATEMALA CITY MAYOR, ALEJANDRO SINIBALDO PEREZ AT RALLY PEREZ LEAVING RALLY
- Embargoed: 25th September 2011 13:00
- Location: Guatemala, Guatemala
- Country: Guatemala
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAI09GYF4D0VVB6V8TGTIHJ7MT
- Story Text: As Guatemalans prepare to vote on Sunday (September 11) in an election that could put a right-wing former army general Otto Perez in power, candidates closed their campaigns on Thursday (September 8) looking to secure crucial last-minute votes from an estimated 7 million-strong electorate.
Presidential frontrunner and ex-soldier Otto Perez is promising an "iron fist" to fight spiraling crime in one of Latin America's most dangerous countries as the influence of Mexican drug cartels grows.
"This is a rite that I accept, that I am going to fight with character and with a firm hand in front of the institutions to bring peace and security and defend the lives of all Guatemalans so we can live with security as we deserve," said presidential candidate for the Patriotic Party, Otto Perez.
In a country still recovering from a 36-year civil war that saw almost a quarter of a million killed, Perez's main rival Manuel Baldizon from the Renewed Democratic Party (LIDER) told his supporters that a vote for the ring-wing army general would return the country's much-feared military to the country's top job.
"Guatemala needs opportunity, not to return to the past. On September 11 this nation must make an important decision, return to the military of the past or together to the future," said Baldizon.
Baldizon trails right-wing candidate Otto Perez by more than 20 percentage points, with 18.5 percent support to Perez's 39.6 percent according to one recent poll, but his supporters are pushing for a run-off election on November 6. National elections will also hail in a new vice president as well over 150 senators and 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament.
Whoever is the winner, the country's next president will face enormous security challenges -- Guatemala's murder rate is seven times that of the United States -- and staggering inequality with more than half of the country's 15 million people living below the poverty line.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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