Guatemala Elects a Right-Wing TV-Comedian President

By
Jimmy Morales
Photo: Luis Soto/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Actor and TV comedian Jimmy Morales is the new face of Guatemala, and he plans to get the greed out of government.

Morales won Guatemala’s presidential election with about 69 percent of the vote on Sunday. The conservative comedian known for his silly characters and lewd jokes ran on an anti-corruption platform, using his outsider status and anger against the current government to win the election.

Morales’s party, founded by right-wing former military officers, defeated National Unity of Hope party leader Sandra Torres, whose campaign focused on social issues. Morales says he offers no magic solutions, but he has “nothing but a big heart swollen with love for this country,” the Times reports.

The vote came after former president Otto Pérez Molina and his vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, were jailed for political corruption, the AP reports. The discovery of these scandals, among others, fueled a six-month anti-corruption movement in Guatemala, overseen by the United Nations. It also inspired Morales to campaign for the presidency, running under the slogan “Not corrupt, nor a thief.”

In debates leading up to the election, Morales vowed to improve transparency in government and said he would use all of the auditing powers at his disposal to strengthen government controls.

With this vote you made me president,” Morales said in an announcement Sunday night. “I have received a mandate, and the mandate of the people of Guatemala is to fight against the corruption that has consumed us.”

Morales, whose career experience includes performing bit comedy and wearing blackface, will officially take office in January. Some are skeptical.

Helen Mack, a human-rights activist in Guatemala, said right-wing military members of Morales’s party have been accused of corruption themselves. She told the Washington Post that Morales is simply benefiting from the growing movement against career politicians. “He’s like the Donald Trump of Guatemala.”

Donald Trump seems to think of himself as a comic, too. But mostly he’s a gift to comedians.