Right-Wing Candidate Alejandro Giammattei Wins Guatemala Presidency

Presidential candidate Sandra Torres

Presidential candidate Sandra Torres

Guatemala's president-elect Alejandro Giammattei said in an interview with AFP he would not seek confrontation with President Donald Trump over Central America's migration crisis but would demand respect from his USA counterpart.

Giammattei, a conservative, defeated former first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off Sunday, garnering more than 58 per cent of the vote. The biggest bloc of seats will be controlled by his rival Torres.

The disheartening results follows President Morales' signing the "safe third country" agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

More of the same means more of the economic collapse that preceded Giammattei and sent a record number of Guatemalans heading north, seeking a better life in the United States.

USA congresswoman Torres, who said last week Guatemala was in "no way capable" of being a safe third country, congratulated Giammattei on his victory, and she expressed hope he could curb migration by reducing poverty and improving security.

Mr Giammattei said it would be "an enormous honour to be president of this country that I love so much", and vowed to "rebuild Guatemala". "If we don't have the capacity to look after our own people, imagine what it will be like for foreigners".

About 250,000 people from Guatemala were apprehended at the border since October, according to to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"We'll have to see what happens in the United States with the federal judge's decision". The agreement designated Guatemala as a "safe third country", despite thousands of Guatemalans migrating to the US border this year.

A poll commissioned by the Prensa Libre newspaper found that 82 per cent of those surveyed opposed it.

It is unclear how much Giammattei will be able to do to change the deal, which would require Hondurans and Salvadorans to apply for asylum in Guatemala rather than in the United States. It also foresees granting US visas to some Guatemalan workers. "I think what can stop migration are walls of opportunities". "Organized crime does not respect borders", said Giammattei, who has pledged to reintroduce the death penalty, suspended since 2000 in Guatemala.

Three million Guatemalans live and work in the United States, which is also the country's main trading partner.

"The incoming administration will have limited support in an atomized Congress, raising the risks for continued political gridlock", Fitch Director Carlos Morales said in a statement.

"We could create a huge pole of development that could benefit both countries", he said, adding that he would plead his case in Mexico City as well as in Washington during the transition period.

Giammattei will take over in January from corruption-tainted President Jimmy Morales, who congratulated his successor after the vote and promised a "transparent and orderly" transition.

"If he fights corruption numerous country's problems will be solved, because there will be money for investment, health, security and education", university student Christopher Alvarado said.

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