Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guatemala's new president

Quick march

A former general must move fast to meet expectations

“THE change has begun. The change has arrived,” declared Otto Pérez Molina as he donned Guatemala’s presidential sash on January 14th. Quoting Mayan astronomers who set the start of a new 5,125-year epoch in 2012, Mr Pérez, a former general, vowed to save the country from its “crisis” of crime and poverty.

Guatemala has grave problems and feeble means to combat them. Its murder rate of 39 per 100,000 people, partly spurred by drug gangs, is among the world’s highest. Slow violence is done on a bigger scale by malnutrition, which stalks half the country’s children, the worst rate in the Americas. Government revenues are just over a tenth of GDP, the region’s lowest share.

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