Guatemalan-born citizens who have since left the country—but continue to send monetary remittances to family members back home—demanded yesterday for the right to vote in the September 2011 presidential elections. Marcos Yax, president of the Coalition of Guatemalan Immigrants in the United States (CONGUATE), cited two pertinent reasons: the lack of voting rights of the Guatemalan emigrants in their countries of residence and the economic benefits that they provide to their home country.
As for remittances, emigrants sent more than $4.1 billion dollars back to Guatemala in 2010, a 4.35 percent increase over 2009. Yax argues that these financial ties merit the involvement of Guatemalan expatriates—estimated at more than 2 million people with most living in the United States—in elections both as candidates and as voters.
CONGUATE is receiving support from groups like El Colegio de Abogados (Bar Association), La Comisión Presidencial contra la Discriminación y el Racismo (Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism) and the Central American Parliament.
Just last week, the wife of incumbent president Álvaro Colom, Sandra Torres de Colom, announced her candidacy for the presidential elections. In addition, September 2011 will see the elections of a vice president, 333 mayoralties, 158 members of Congress and 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament.