Responses to Information Requests

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17 May 2013


Guatemala: Information on the political party LIDER (Libertad Democrática Renovada) during and after the elections of 2011, including treatment of its members and associated groups and individuals; information on the election results at the municipal and national levels; relationship between the LIDER Party and the Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota) during the 2011 municipal and national elections, including instances of conflict between the two parties (2011-May 2013)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. LIDER (Libertad Democrática Renovada), Overview

The political party LIDER (Libertad Democrática Renovada) [also known as LIDR (IPD 4 Nov. 2011)] was created in 2008 (GHRC n.d.; ASIES Nov. 2012, 70). It was officially registered on 25 December 2010 (ibid.). Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES), a think-tank based in Guatemala city, indicates that LIDER was formed by a group of 10 congressmen who broke away from the UNE [Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (PHW 2011)] (ASIES Nov. 2012, 70). In the 2011 national election, Manuel Baldizón, who left UNE in 2009 (ASIES Nov. 2012, 70), was the presidential candidate of LIDER (ibid., 71; IPD 4 Nov. 2011). Raquel Bandon was the LIDER candidate running for the vice presidency (ibid.; ASIES Nov. 2012, 71).

Sources describe Manuel Baldizón as a wealthy businessman (Al Jazeera 11 Sept. 2011; Reuters 7 Nov. 2011). During his campaign, Baldizón advocated for improved security, the creation of a new national guard and the introduction of the death penalty (BBC 12 Sept. 2011; IPD 4 Nov. 2011). He also reportedly promised to "boost salaries and social programs" (Fox News Latino 12 Sept. 2011).

2. Elections
2.1 National Election

Sources report that municipal (IPD 4 Nov. 2011) and first round national elections took place in September 2011 (ibid.; Creative 6 Apr. 2012, 5). Second round national election occurred in November 2011 (ibid.; US 19 Apr. 2013, 1). Sources indicate that leading candidates failed to secure 50 percent of the vote needed for a first round victory (Fox News Latino 12 Sept. 2011; BBC 12 Sept. 2011). International observers reportedly described the 2011 elections as "generally free and fair" (Freedom House 2012; US 19 Apr. 2013, 1).

According to the International Policy Digest (IPD), a US-based news analysis website that publishes articles addressing global issues (IPD n.d.), Guatemalans voted in September 2011 to elect 158 members of Congress, 20 members to the Central American Parliament and president and vice-president (IPD 4 Nov. 2011). Sources report that during the first round national election Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota, PP) won 36 percent (BBC 12 Sept. 2011; Mirador Electoral 12 Sept. 2011; ASIES Nov. 2012, 76) and Manuel Baldizón (LIDER) 23 percent of the presidential vote (ibid., 100; BBC 12 Sept. 2011; Mirador Electoral 12 Sept. 2011).

In November 2011, Pérez Molina of the PP won the presidential election (US 19 Apr. 2013). Pérez Molina captured approximately 54 percent (Reuters 7 Nov. 2011; ASIES Nov. 2012, 76) and Manuel Baldizón 46 percent of the vote (ibid., 100; Reuters 7 Nov. 2011). ASIES reports that 14 members of Congress were elected from the LIDER party and 57 from the PP (ASIES Nov. 2012, 71, 94). Both parties attracted congressmen from other parties resulting in 26 LIDER and 62 PP members of Congress (ibid.).

2.2 Municipal Elections

IPD indicates that municipal elections took place on 11 September 2011 (4 Nov. 2011). According to the report, Guatemalans voted to elect mayors in all 333 municipalities (ibid.). Mayors of LIDER party were elected in 21 municipalities (ASIES Nov. 2012, 71) and PP mayors in 121 municipalities (ibid., 94). Further information on the results of the municipal elections could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response

2.3 Election-related Violence

Information about instances of conflict between the LIDER and the PP could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. However, the following information about election-related violence may be of interest.

The Creative Associates International (Creative), a Washington-based organization which operates in 85 countries encouraging democratic processes (Creative n.d.), reports that in general, the "voting was peaceful" (Creative 6 Apr. 2012, 13). However, the same source reports that municipal candidates, their families and supporters were targeted during the pre-election phase of 2011 national elections in order to "remove them from the contest by either a forced withdrawal or assassination" (ibid., 12-13). Two other sources also reported incidents of pre-election violence (GHRC n.d.; Christian Science Monitor 8 Sept. 2011). According to Creative, acts of violence targeting "most political parties" included threats, homicides and assaults, as well as raids on political parties' headquarters (6 Apr. 2012, 12). The report further indicates that

[e]lectoral violence in Guatemala is a reflection of a rising level of societal violence in general. As such, in some cases it may be difficult to distinguish between violence perpetrated for electoral objectives and violence perpetrated for personal or economic reasons but occurring within the context of an electoral campaign. (Creative 6 Apr. 2012, 5)

The Christian Science Monitor reported in September 2011 that during the pre-election period, there were more than 20 political murders (8 Sept. 2011). Huffington Post reported in September 2011 that at least 35 people were killed in campaign-related violence (9 Sept. 2011). According to the Christian Science Monitor, many of the murders were linked to "organized criminal interests who [were] determined to win influence through having the candidate of their choice elected" (8 Sept. 2011). The same source described political party funding as a "serious source of concern," noting that parties may have been trying to conceal the source of their funding because the money came from "'illicit sources'" (Christian Science Monitor 8 Sept. 2011). The Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC) reports that, according to InSight Crime, "Baldizón [LIDER] may have connections to narco-trafficking groups and large petroleum extraction companies" (GHRC n.d.). According to Al Jazeera, Pérez Molina (PP) is also linked to drug traffickers (Al Jazeera 11 Sept. 2011). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

IPD linked violence to "results in municipal elections; particularly local populations being unhappy with the re-election of mayor in some towns" (4 Nov. 2011). According to the IPD, "this led the population to voice their discontent by retaining electoral staff, burning ballots, putting up roadblocks and damaging electoral centers, police and municipal infrastructure" (4 Nov. 2011). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Al Jazeera. 11 September 2011. Chris Arsenault. "Narco Elite vs Oligarchy: Guatemala Votes." (Factiva)

Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES). November 2012. Monografía de partidos políticos de Guatemala, 2012." "< files/articulos/publicaciones/monografia_de_partidos_politicos_de_guatemala_2012_ asies_ii.pdf> [Accessed 10 May 2013

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 12 September 2011. "Guatemala Election: Perez Molina set to face Baldizon." <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]

The Christian Science Monitor. 8 September 2011. Hannah Stone. "Questions Persist over Guatemala Election Funding Ahead of Sunday Vote." <> [Accessed 10 May 2013]

Creative Associates International (Creative). 6 April 2012. "Electoral Security Assessment-Guatemala." <> [Accessed 10 May 2013]

_____. N.d. "Corporate Profile." <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]

Fox News Latino. 12 September 2011. "Otto Perez Molina, Manuel Baldizon & Eduardo Suger Head for Runoff in Guatemala." < 2011/09/12/otto-perez-molina-manuel-baldizon-eduardo-suger-head-for-runoff-in-guatemala> [Accessed 9 May 2013]

Freedom House. 2012. "Guatemala." Freedom in the World 2012. <> [Accessed 10 May 2013]

Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC). N.d. "2011 Elections." <> [Accessed 10 May 2013]

Huffington Post. 9 September 2011. "Guatemala Election 2011: Otto Pérez Molina Takes Lead (PHOTOS)." <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]

International Policy Digest (IPD). 4 November 2011. Scott Denton. "Guatemala's Presidential Elections: Slow Road to Recovery." <> [Accessed 10 May 2013]

_____. N.d. "About Us." <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]

Mirador Electoral. 12 September 2011. "Observación Electoral Nacional." <> [Accessed 10 May 2013]

National Democratic Institute (NDI). N.d. "Guatemala." <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]

Political Handbook of the World 2011. 2011. "Guatemala." Edited by Thomas C. Muller, William R. Overstreet, Judith F. Isacoff and Tom Lansford. Washington, DC: CQ Press. <> [Accessed 24 Apr. 2013]

Reuters. 7 November 2011. Elinor Comlay and Mike McDonald. "Retired General Sweeps to Power in Guatemala Election." (Factiva)

United States (US). 19 April 2013. Department of State. "Guatemala." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. < organization/204664.pdf> [Accessed 23 Apr. 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives at the following organizations were unsuccessful: Congreso de la República de Guatemala, Tribunal Supremo Electoral.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; The Economist; Elecciones; El Pais; El Periódico; Factiva; Global Edge, Michigan State University; Guatemala – Congreso, Tribunal Supremo Electoral; Human Rights Watch; Infolatam; InSight Crime; International Crisis Group; International Foundation for Electoral Systems; La Hora; Lawyers Without Borders;;; National Endowment for Democracy; Noticias de Guatemala; Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders; Prensa Libre; Radio la primerísima; RSS Noticias; San Diego Red;; Toda Noticia; United Nations – Refworld; Universidad Rafael Landívar, Guatemala; World Press.