A 2nd legal challenge for Guatemalan first lady’s divorce proceedings

April 4, 2011

GUATEMALA CITY – A new motion filed Monday to block the divorce of Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and wife Sandra Torres further complicated the couple’s bid to enable the first lady to run in the September presidential election.

“There are two motions for the suspension of the divorce” and the process cannot move forward “until they are resolved,” family court Judge Mildred Roca told reporters.

The magistrate had announced last Friday that she expected to rule on the divorce petition early this week.

Later that day, however, a group of university students filed the first legal challenge to the divorce, which the plaintiffs denounced as “a simulation” to evade the constitutional provision that bars close relatives of the president from seeking the highest office.

The second motion was submitted Monday by an association of independent lawyers.

The couple’s decision to file for divorce has sparked a storm of criticism from conservative sectors of Guatemalan society, opposition leaders and jurists, who have unsuccessfully filed petitions against the move.

Despite the constitutional impediment, Torres announced on March 8 that she planned to run for president as the candidate of a coalition of Colom’s UNE party and the Great National Alliance.

Retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina, presumptive candidate of the right-wing Patriot Party, currently leads in the opinion polls with support from 47.2 percent of likely voters, well ahead of Torres with 13.7 percent.

Colom defeated Perez in the last election.

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