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Álvaro Colom

Álvaro Colom
35th President of Guatemala
In office
14 January 2008 – 14 January 2012
Vice President Rafael Espada
Preceded by Óscar Berger
Succeeded by Otto Pérez Molina
Personal details
Born Álvaro Colom Caballeros
(1951-06-15) 15 June 1951
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Political party National Unity of Hope
Spouse(s) Sandra Torres (2003–2011)
Alma mater University of San Carlos of Guatemala
Religion Roman Catholicism

Álvaro Colom Caballeros (Spanish: ; June 15, 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

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.

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

President: 2008–2012

He was one of the two candidates to reach the second stage of the 2007 presidential election on September 9, 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,[3] becoming Guatemala's first left-wing president in 53 years. During the presidential campaign, Colom promised to tackle poverty in an effort to reduce the rate of crime in the country.[4]

As President, Colom expanded social programs[5] and access to health, education, and social security. These contributed to a rise in the living standards of the Guatemalan poor.[6][7]

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.[8]

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.[9]


  1. ^ Pico, Juan Hernandez.Can Alvaro Become a Social Democratic President?," Revista Envio. (accessed February 1, 2010).
  2. ^ Hernandez, Vittorio. Alvaro Colom Takes Oath of Office as New Guatemalan President, (accessed February 1, 2010)
  3. ^ "2007 Results," NEOTEC
  4. ^ Rosenberg Mica and Frank Jack Daniel. "Center-leftist beats general in Guatemala election," Reuters, November 5, 2007.
  5. ^
  6. ^ [3], IPS News
  7. ^ [4], Time magazine, 18 October 2010
  8. ^ "Murder of Myrna Mack", Guatemala Human Rights Commission, 2011, accessed 13 June 2013
  9. ^ Death Penalty Guatemala: Green Light for Executions, Inter-Press Service News Agency
  • Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza Website
  • Extended biography by CIDOB Foundation (in Spanish)
  • "Centrist claims win in Guatemala". BBC News. 2007-11-05. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Óscar Berger
President of Guatemala
Succeeded by
Otto Pérez Molina
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