Top contenders for president in Guatemala election

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A woman jogs past political campaign posters at Reforma avenue in Guatemala City, early Saturday, June 15, 2019. The road to Sunday’s presidential election in Guatemala has been a chaotic flurry of court rulings and shenanigans, illegal party-switching and allegations of malfeasance that torpedoed the candidacies of two of the top three candidates. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalans head to the polls Sunday to choose their next president, as well as a vice president, congressional representatives and mayors. With 19 candidates in the race for president, a runoff vote is likely in August.

Unemployment, violence, corruption, rising costs of living and the shoddy state of the country’s highways are among top concerns for the country’s electorate. Surging migration has not emerged as a major campaign issue, even as an estimated 1 percent of Guatemala’s population of some 16 million people has left the country this year.

Here are the top-five candidates for president based on recent polls:

SANDRA JULIETA TORRES CASANOVA

Polls favor former first lady Sandra Torres of the National Unity and Hope party to finish first, but it is unlikely she will get enough votes to avoid a runoff. Torres, 64, is a businesswoman who gained national prominence during the 2008-2012 government of her then-husband, Álvaro Colom, when she served as coordinator of the Council on Social Cohesion, an entity dedicated to helping the marginalized and the poor. The couple divorced in 2011. This is the third time Torres has tried to run for president. Prosecutors opened an investigation into alleged illicit campaign financing involving her party. The case has not moved forward because candidates are protected from prosecution.

ALEJANDRO EDUARDO GIAMMATTEI FALLA

This four-time presidential candidate and former prison director is best-known for having put down a prison uprising in which several hostages were killed.

ROBERTO ARZÚ

A businessman and son of a former president, Arzú is polling close to Giammattei for second place. Arzú, who was once president of a soccer club, represents a coalition of conservative parties.

EDMOND AUGUSTE MULET LESIEUR

A lawyer, journalist and diplomat who was accused of running an international child adoption ring in the early 1980s that spirited orphans and other children who may have been abandoned out of Guatemala. Mulet, 68, later became the highest ranking Guatemalan in the United Nations.

THELMA CABRERA

The only indigenous candidate in the race and the top contender from a left-leaning party. Cabrera, 43, is a human and land rights defender from the indigenous Mam community.

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