GUATEMALA CITY – On January 14, 2016, Jimmy Morales began his four year long term as President of the Republic of Guatemala. Morales, 46, describes himself as a “common man” and ran a campaign with the slogan “Not corrupt, nor a thief”. This slogan may not seem like it is boasting much, but when put into the perspective of unpredictable Guatemalan politics, where Morales’ predecessor, Otto Pérez Molina, the 48th president, had been arrested in September amid a corruption case, it starts to seem like a solid basis for a campaign.
However, Morales’ honesty campaign is not the only thing that set him apart from the other candidates. Mainly, it is the fact that he has almost no background in politics, rather he has spent his entire career amassing fame as a comedian. Morales spent over 14 years starring in the show Moralejas (Morals) alongside his brother Sammy Morales. In the show, Jimmy Morales played many different characters, including ‘Black Pitaya’ for which he wore blackface and spoke as a baby.
The little political experience Morales had before his rise to presidency came from an attempt to run for mayor of Mixco, a western area of Guatemala City, which he lost in 2011. Later, in 2012 he was also invited into the National Convergence Front (Frente de Convergencia Nacional), a centre-right Guatemalan political party, and in 2013 he was voted their Secretary-General.
Morales’ opponent, ex-first lady, Sandra Torres made it into a second round of voting, when after the first round neither opponent managed to secure 50% or more of the votes. However, Torres congratulated Morales on his landslide victory in the second round when he had received around 68% of the votes.
Comedy and politics, may seem very different but slowly some comedians seem to be bleeding over into the political arena. Jon Gnarr, an Icelandic comedian became Mayor of Reykjavik in 2010, and even famous english comedian and actor Eddie Izzard is hoping to become an MP and run as a Labour candidate in 2020.
– Paul Carlsen, Correspondent (South America)