Divorce for Love of Country
When we last visited Guatemalan president Alvaro Colum, he had plans to use divorce as a legal tool for the purpose of getting around article 186 of the Guatemalan constitution which stated that he could not run for re-election and none of his relatives or extended family could run for the presidency either. Colum and first lady Sandra Torres de Colom devised a crafty plan to get divorced so that she could run for the office once she was no longer legally related to her husband, the current president.
Critics of the couple’s efforts to side-step the Guatemalan constitution accused the couple of trying to defraud the system, but Sandra Torres pressed on with the plan saying that she would divorce her husband for the love of her country. However, now pressure from student groups in Guatemala have thrown sand in the gears with a petition to the court to halt the divorce, which they said would bypass the constitution. The student’s pleas did no fall on deaf ears and a court recently ordered a halt to the divorce proceedings of the country’s first couple.
The first couple’s plan to get a divorce was controversial from the start and opposition from politicians and the Catholic Church highly critical was immediate. The main opposition candidate, Otto Perez Molina, called it electoral fraud and the petition brought by the student groups has caused the couple’s divorce proceedings to be put on hold until a final decision can be reached in the case. The pressure reached the level of death threats when the judge hearing the first couple’s divorce case said she had received anonymous threats warning her not to grant the divorce. Judge Mildred Roca reported that she had received a telephone threat from someone who was identified as belonging to a group defending the constitution who warned her that if she granted the president a divorce, a member of her family would be executed in retribution.
Obviously, Judge Roca’s is taking the threat seriously and her security detail has been beefed up since the threats emerged and an investigation has been started to determine their source. The Guatemala’s Constitutional Court will ultimately decide the issue, but for now the divorce is on hold and Guatemala’s First Lady will have to wait and see if she will be permitted to run for the job of president herself.