Álvaro Colom

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Álvaro Colom
Alvaro Colom Caballeros with Obamas (cropped).jpg
47th President of Guatemala
In office
14 January 2008 – 14 January 2012
Vice PresidentRafael Espada
Preceded byÓscar Berger
Succeeded byOtto Pérez Molina
Personal details
Álvaro Colom Caballeros

(1951-06-15) 15 June 1951 (age 71)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Political partyNational Unity of Hope
(m. 2002; div. 2011)
Alma materUniversity of San Carlos of Guatemala

Álvaro Colom Caballeros (Spanish: [ˈalβaɾo koˈlon]; born 15 June 1951) is a Guatemalan politician who was the President of Guatemala from 2008 to 2012, as well as leader of the social-democratic National Unity of Hope (UNE).

Early years[edit]

Colom was born in Guatemala City, the son of Antonio Colom Argueta and Yolanda Caballeros Ferraté, being the fourth of five siblings. His uncle, Manuel Colom, was a mayor of Guatemala City who was killed by the military in 1979 just after the creation of his political party was approved.[1] He is also the father of Antonio Colom Szarata, the bass player of a Guatemalan pop rock band, Viento en Contra.[2] He and his third wife, Sandra Torres, divorced in 2011 in order for his wife to be able to run in the 2011 presidential election.

After gaining a degree as an industrial engineer at the University of San Carlos (USAC) he became a businessman involved in a variety of businesses, and a government civil servant, including being the founding General Director of the Fondo Nacional para la Paz and Vice Minister of the Economy before turning to politics. One of his businesses was a "maquila" with associate Luis Mendizabal.[3]

Representing the UNE (Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza) in the 2003 presidential elections, he lost to Óscar Berger on 28 December 2003–the closest a left-wing presidential candidate had come to winning the presidency since democracy was restored in 1985.

President (2008–2012)[edit]

He was one of the two candidates to reach the second stage of the 2007 presidential election on 9 September 2007 along with Partido Patriota candidate Otto Pérez Molina. At 10:00 p.m. local time on election night, Colom was declared the newly elected president by over five percentage points, 52.7% to 47.3%, with over 96% of polling places counted,[4] becoming Guatemala's first left-wing president in 53 years.[5] During the presidential campaign, Colom promised to tackle poverty in an effort to reduce the rate of crime in the country.[6]

As President, Colom expanded social programs[7] and access to health, education, and social security. These contributed to a rise in the living standards of the Guatemalan poor.[8][9]

In 2010 he appointed Helen Mack Chang, a noted human rights activist, to investigate police corruption and make recommendations for changes. She noted that their low pay and poor working conditions made them open to influence and needed to be addressed.[10]

Although he is opposed to the death penalty, Colom stated that he would not pardon those sentenced to death out of respect for the country's laws, although the option to do so was granted in 2008.[11] The last execution in Guatemala, however, took place in 2000 and was since abolished for civilian crimes in 2017.

2018 arrest[edit]

On 13 February 2018, Colom was arrested alongside all other members of his former Cabinet "as part of a local corruption investigation".[12][13] On 3 August 2018, he was released from prison on a 1 million quetzal bail.[14][15]



  1. ^ Pico, Juan Hernandez.Can Alvaro Become a Social Democratic President? Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine," Revista Envio. (accessed February 1, 2010).
  2. ^ Hernandez, Vittorio. Alvaro Colom Takes Oath of Office as New Guatemalan President Archived 2011-11-24 at the Wayback Machine, AllHeadlineNews.com. (accessed February 1, 2010)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "2007 Results Archived 2007-10-28 at the Wayback Machine," NEOTEC
  5. ^ e.V., Transparency International. "Site no longer exists". archive.transparency.org. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016.
  6. ^ Rosenberg Mica and Frank Jack Daniel. "Center-leftist beats general in Guatemala election Archived 2009-05-27 at the Wayback Machine," Reuters, November 5, 2007.
  7. ^ "Guatemalan Women Enter the Political Limelight Ahead of Sunday's Elections". www.americasquarterly.org. Archived from the original on 31 October 2015.
  8. ^ "GUATEMALA: All Candidates Jump on the Social Programmes Bandwagon - IPS ipsnews.net". Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2011., IPS News
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Time magazine, October 18, 2010
  10. ^ "Murder of Myrna Mack" Archived 2013-05-01 at the Wayback Machine, Guatemala Human Rights Commission, 2011, accessed June 13, 2013
  11. ^ Death Penalty Guatemala: Green Light for Executions Archived 2013-02-21 at archive.today, Inter-Press Service News Agency
  12. ^ Menchu, Sofia (13 February 2018). "Guatemala arrests ex-president, Oxfam chairman in graft probe". Reuters. Archived from the original on 13 February 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Oxfam International chair held in Guatemala". 13 February 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  14. ^ Mendoza, Michelle (4 August 2018). "Guatemala: expresidente Álvaro Colom sale de prisión". CNN (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  15. ^ Lainfiesta, Javier (3 August 2019). "Álvaro Colom recupera su libertad luego de pagar fianza de Q1 millón". Prensa Libre (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  16. ^ "President Ma Holds State Dinner for and Presents Meritorious Honor to Guatemala President Colom". Office of the President, Republic of China. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by President of Guatemala
Succeeded by