Paper Thin Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

It is not often that a married couple agrees to get a divorce and then continues to live happily together ever after, but it seems that is exactly the case for Guatemala’s president and his wife. The couple has no marital issues or any conventional reason to get a divorce, but there is a legal reason behind the action. Guatemalan president Alvaro Colum cannot run for re-election and the country’s constitution bars any of his relatives or extended family from running for the presidency as well. However, first lady Sandra Torres de Colom can run for the office of president once she is no longer legally related to her husband, the current president.

Neat and discreet, but maybe not so legal say some critics of the efforts to side-step the Guatemalan constitution.  Critics from the opposition Patriot Party accused the couple of trying to defraud the system. In the end Guatemala’s Constitutional Court will decide the issue, but for now the divorce is on and Guatemala First Lady has decided to try out her political clout and run for the job of president herself. If she wins, she’ll be Guatemala’s first ever female president.

It is an unusual situation that a divorce is being used as a legal tool solely for the purpose of getting around article 186 of the Guatemalan constitution, but Sandra Torres has been a visible first lady throughout her 8-year marriage. She has worked in government by supervising the nation’s poverty relief programs and some critics have suggested that wields a lot power over the president behind the scenes. If Sandra Torres de Colom is allowed to run for the job of president, her strongest opposition will come from the Patriot Party’s Otto Perez Molina, a former army general who is also seeking the position. It’s not often that a divorce is used in this capacity, but as some of the critics have suggested, the Colom’s divorce is not really a divorce in the sense that their marital relationship will be over. The Guatemalan first couple’s divorce will actually only be a matter of legal record and little else.


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