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News > Guatemala

Guatemalan Dictator's Daughter Banned From Presidential Race

  • Zury Rios and her father, dictator Efrain Rios Montt, before one of his hearings on genocide charges. Guatemala City, Nov. 19, 2013.

    Zury Rios and her father, dictator Efrain Rios Montt, before one of his hearings on genocide charges. Guatemala City, Nov. 19, 2013. | Photo: EFE

Published 30 January 2019

This is the second time the TSE denies Zury Rios's candidacy because of her father's coup history, but she will try to appeal the decision again.

Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) rejected the candidacy of conservative politician Zury Rios Sosa, daughter of the late general and dictator Efrain Rios Montt, because the constitution bans direct relatives of participants in coups to run for president.


Guatemala Calls for General Elections on June 16

The Guatemalan Constitution’s article 186 states that relatives of coup leaders can’t be elected president or vice-president, and that includes Rios Sosa.

Her father, backed by the U.S., led a coup in Guatemala on March 23, 1982, resulting in one of the most repressive regimes in the Central American country, which carried a witch hunt against leftists organizations and a genocide against several Mayan groups.

After the decision was made public, Rios Sosa published a voicenote in social media saying she already expected the TSE ruling, but that she’s hopeful she will find a way into the ballot.

Rios Sosa had already been denied to participate in the 2015 presidential elections by the TSE on the same grounds, but political allies in the Constitutionality Court (CC) revoked the tribunal’s decision.

In 2015, her lawyers took the case of the Supreme Justice Court (CSJ), which nullified the TSE decision. The electoral authorities filed an appeal, but the CC denied it.

Now, Rios Sosa and others members of her brand new ‘Valor’ party are using the same strategy to put her in the ballot.

One of her closest allies and vice-president candidate, Roberto Molina Barreto, was a member of the CC in 2015 and was a key ally when Rios Sosa wanted to run for president. He also was one of the judges that decided to revoke the genocide and crime against humanity sentence against the retired general Rios Montt in 2013.

Molina Barreto filed a complaint at the Human Rights Prosecutor (PDH) on Wednesday, arguing that the decision to ban Zury Rios from the elections has no legal grounds and that article 186 doesn’t apply to her.

One of their lawyers, Luis Alfonso Rosales Marroquin, was also Rios Montt’s defense during his historical trial for genocide.

“There was no preparation, no analysis by the Citizens’ Registry, which rejected her candidacy,” said Rosales.

Guatemala will hold its general elections on June 16.

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