Óscar Berger

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Óscar Berger
Oscar Berger 2005 (cropped).jpg
34th President of Guatemala
In office
January 14, 2004 – January 14, 2008
Vice PresidentEduardo Stein
Preceded byAlfonso Portillo
Succeeded byÁlvaro Colom
Personal details
Born (1946-08-11) August 11, 1946 (age 74)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Political partyNational Solidarity Party (Guatemala)
Grand National Alliance (Guatemala)
Spouse(s)Wendy Widmann

Óscar José Rafael Berger Perdomo (Spanish pronunciation: ['oskaɾ xo'se rafa'el beɾ'ʃe peɾ'domo]; born August 11, 1946) is a Guatemalan politician who was the President of Guatemala from 2004 to 2008.

Early years and family[edit]

Of Belgian descent, Berger was born to an upper-class family with large sugar and coffee holdings.[1] He graduated in law from the private, Jesuit Rafael Landívar University.[2] In 1967 he married Wendy Widmann, also from a land-owning Guatemalan family. He had a son after and has a grandchild named Juan Pablo Berger.

Political career[edit]

In 1985, he joined Álvaro Arzú's successful campaign to become mayor of Guatemala City. From January 1991 to June 1999, he was mayor himself. After leaving office, he ran in the 1999 presidential election as the candidate of the National Advancement Party, but lost to Alfonso Portillo.

A representative of the industrial and land oligarchy that financed his electoral campaign,[3] he was elected with 54.13% of the vote in the presidential election of December 2003, ahead of his rival from the centre-right, Alvaro Colom. Only 46% of those registered on the electoral rolls took part in the vote.[4][5]

It works for national reconciliation following the civil war that bled the country until 1996. In this sense, he undertook a reform of the army, recognized the responsibility of the state for war crimes, accepted the creation of an International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig) under a UN mandate, and appointed Rigoberta Menchu, a figure of the pacifist and indigenous movement, as special ambassador to the presidency. Most of the members of his government, however, are from the oligarchy.[6]

He supports the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) signed with the United States. He pursued a repressive policy towards the peasant movement. It is in this context that the massacre of Nueva Linda took place in August 2004, in which nine peasants were killed by the police. A Cicig report published in 2010 accused the government of Óscar Berger of carrying out "social cleansing" operations and ordering extra-judicial executions. Philip Alston, rapporteur to the United Nations, had already, in 2007, denounced social cleansing operations involving the Guatemalan government.[7]

During Hurricane Stan in 2005, which killed more than a thousand people in Guatemala, he declared: "It's not so bad, poor people are used to living like this.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Óscar Berger Perdomo, Centro De Estudios Internacionales De Barcelona. (accessed January 20, 2010)
  2. ^ Óscar Berger Perdomo, Centro De Estudios Internacionales De Barcelona. (accessed January 20, 2010)
  3. ^ http://www.latinreporters.com/guatemalapol29122003.html
  4. ^ > Guatemala general beaten in poll, BBC coverage. (accessed January 20, 2010)
  5. ^ Orlandi, Lorraine. Businessman says beats ex-dictator in Guatemala vote, Alertnet.com (accessed January 20, 2010)
  6. ^ https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/carnet/2012-10-09-Guatemala
  7. ^ https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/carnet/2012-10-09-Guatemala
  8. ^ https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/carnet/2010-06-17-Guatemala

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alfonso Portillo
President of Guatemala
Succeeded by
Álvaro Colom