Guatemalan president and first lady apply for divorce

Sunday, March 27, 2011

President Colom in 2010

According to judicial spokesman Edwin Escobar, Alvaro Colom, president of Guatemala, and Sandra Torres, the first lady, have applied for a divorce. It is said that the couple, who have been married for eight years, have done so so that Torres can apply for presidency.

The couple applied for divorce on March 11, Escobar said. He says the couple have given mutual consent and did not reveal the names of their lawyers.

Presidential spokesman Giusseppe Calvinisti has denied having any information about the planned divorce.

Before Escobar made the announcement, opposition leader Roxanna Baldetti had warned that the couple were planning to split to let Torres run for the presidency. Many political observers believe the couple filed their request so that Torres can stand to succeed her husband when his term ends in September, as the Guatemalan constitution does not allow close relatives of the president to do so.

Comments on the divorce have ranged from 'unthinkable' to 'a fraud', the latter description by Patriotic Party candidate Otto Perez. According to Perez, the divorce will not let the Torres run for presidency. "The law does not state a time frame of when a person ceases to be a relative of the President."

The Constitutional Court in Guatemala, the highest legal authority that determines the legitimacy of a presidential candidate, is to be taken over by new members in April. Legal experts doubt the impartiality of the new judges. They noticed 'ominous signs of political pressures' that would cause them to defend partisan interests rather than uphold justice.