Saturday, January 14, 2012

Otto Pérez Molina

Otto Pérez Molina (born 1 December 1950) is a Guatemalan politician and general who won the 2011 presidential election as the Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota) candidate. As an army officer before entering politics, he served as Director of Military Intelligence.

Military Career
Pérez is a graduate of Guatemala's National Military Academy (Escuela Politécnica), the School of the Americas and of the Inter-American Defense College. During his time in the army he served as director of military intelligence and inspector-general of the army. In 1983 he was a member of the group of army officers who backed Defence Minister Óscar Mejía's coup d'état against de facto president Efraín Ríos Montt. While serving as chief of military intelligence in 1993, he was instrumental in forcing the departure of President Jorge Serrano after Serrano attempted a "self-coup" by dissolving Congress and appointing new members to the Guatemalan Supreme Court. In the wake of that incident, Guatemala's human rights ombudsman, Ramiro de León, became president and appointed Pérez as his presidential chief of staff, a position he held until 1995. Pérez also represented the military in the negotiations that led to the 1996 Peace Accords, putting an end to Guatemala's 30-year-long Civil War. Between 1998 and 2000 he represented Guatemala on the Inter-American Defense Board.

General Pérez retired from active military duty in January 2000.

Political Career
On 24 February 2001, he founded the Patriotic Party. In the general election of 9 November 2003, the PP aligned itself with two other parties in the Grand National Alliance and Pérez was elected to Congress as a national-list congressman.

He was the candidate of the Patriotic Party in the 2007 presidential election, campaigning under the slogan "Mano dura, cabeza y corazón" ("Firm hand, head and heart"), advocating a hard-line approach to rising criminality in the country. After receiving the second-largest number of votes in the initial contest on 9 September, he ultimately lost the election to Álvaro Colom of the National Unity of Hope in the second round on 4 November 2007.

In November 2011, he was elected president with 54% of the vote.

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