More Important than Marriage

Aug 8, 2012 by

In the last installment of our coverage of Guatemalan president Alvaro Colum’s plans to use divorce as a legal tool for the purpose of getting around the Guatemalan constitution so that first lady Sandra Torres de Colom could run for the office of the presidency in that country, the first couple’s plans were met with some resistance. Article 186 of the Guatemalan constitution states that Colum could not run for re-election and none of his relatives or extended family could run either. Colum and first lady Sandra Torres de Colom had come up with a plan to perform an end run around the constitution so she could run for office after she was no longer legally related to the current president.

Critics accused the couple of trying to defraud the system, but Sandra Torres said she was divorcing her husband for the love of her country. Pressure from students and political opposition groups petitioned the court to prevent the divorce, and one court issued an injunction to halt to the divorce. Political opposition candidate, Otto Perez Molina, called it electoral fraud and the judge hearing the divorce case said received anonymous threats saying if she granted the president a divorce, a member of her own family would be executed in retribution. The judge security detail was strengthened and the divorce was put on hold until Guatemala’s Constitutional Court ruled on the issue.

Now, it appears Guatemala’s First Lady will be permitted to run for the job of president after a family court rejected legal challenges to the divorce put forward by opposition activists and politicians. The ruling clears the way for Sandra de Colom to succeed her husband as president. President Alvaro Colum said it had been a hard decision to go through with the divorce but that it was to the benefit of “human rights in Guatemala. Colom claimed the couple was acting legally to avoid a run-in with the judicial system and the opposition by applying for the divorce. Colum said he was convinced that his wife’s candidacy did not run counter to the country’s constitution and added that “It’s very important that the population now hears that, because the divorce was something we did for our country, something more important than our marriage,” he said.


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