Rigoberta Menchú discussing program for Guatemala…

Over the last few days, Guatemalan presidential candidate Rigoberta Menchú and her political alliance have begun to discuss their plans for Guatemala, should they win. However, they are saying that they won’t officially announcement their programs and plans until next week.

What they have hinted at, though, is pretty interesting in my opinion. Crucially, they are calling for constitutional reform, including the possible convocation of a constitutional assembly, to “build a new republic.” While possibly not as ambitious as Evo, Correa, or Chávez, it is an interesting parallel.

Further, they discuss guaranteeing indigenous political participation and gender equality in political parties, regulating property, reforming the intelligence services (notorious in their brutality) to come under democratic control, redefining the role of the military, fighting corruption and crime, reforming the economy and tax system, and more and more and more.

As of like two weeks ago, Menchú was in 4th place with only like 5%, but the most popular, Alvaro Colom, only has like 25%, and the campaigns only officially started last week. The majority of Guatemalans are indigenous, and so if Menchú can energize indigenous communities, I think she could possibly have a shot at second place, thus being a part of the second round, against Colom. This would be really interesting, with Guatemala facing a turn even slightly leftward for the first time in half a century.

Guatemala doesn’t have the kind of social movement strength that Ecuador or Bolivia had in electing their presidents. It is very much still a traumatized society, from everything I’ve observed and read. So maybe there just won’t be a strong lefty government there for a long time. But even a non-corrupt social democratic government, which can build even basic civil institutions (like a tax system, a real justice system, school systems, health care, etc.) would be a massive improvement. I do think that Colom’s center-left UNE is corrupt, but they also have a very strong infrastructure and they can also possibly win a lot of congressional strength, so I don’t think even their win would be so, so bad. At least they could get some institutional functionality out of it.

I’ll write in more detail about the campaign and compare the candidates as things build. But for now I’m just glad that ambitious language like “new republic” and “constitutional assembly” are being discussed. People in Guatemala don’t trust the system. That’s why talking about going beyond or outside the system is refreshing to me…and hopefully will be refreshing to the indigenous base. But the deeper question is, do indigenous Guatemalans trust Menchú or think she’s a sell out, and do they believe in her electability enough to vote for her instead of Colom (who also has his base amongst indigenous people)?

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi