Guatemala: Center-left ex-president Alvaro Colomb dies of cancer at 71

Guatemala: Center-left ex-president Alvaro Colomb dies of cancer at 71

Alvaro Colom was involved in a corruption case

Álvaro Colomb Cabageros, 71, a social democrat former president of Guatemala (2008-2012) who was sanctioned in 2021 by the US due to a corruption case, died on Monday, members of his government once announced.

Alvaro Colom, described by those who knew him as a soft-spoken, low-key man, died of esophageal cancer for which he was being treated, according to his former minister, Carlos Menocal. He was in very bad shape when he was released from hospital a week and a half ago, she explained.

“(Former) President Alvaro Colomb has passed away. I am sorry for his death, I pray for his eternal rest,” said Mr. Menokal, former Minister of Security (2010-2012), via Twitter.

“It was a privilege to work and learn by his side. I understood and learned Guatemala thanks to him. A just man, who dared to make the invisible visible (…). I bid you farewell, President Colom”, the former representative of the presidency, Fernando Barrias, also emphasized via Twitter.

“To his family and friends I express my heartfelt condolences, may God comfort them for this irreparable loss,” current president Alejandro Yamatei (right) said via Twitter.

Sanctions were announced against the former president in July 2021 by Washington, which included him in the so-called “Egel” list, which includes personalities who are characterized as “corrupt” or “anti-democratic” in the so-called Northern Triangle of central America.

He was barred from entering the US after his arrest in 2018 on charges of fraud and embezzlement in a 2009 public tender to buy hundreds of buses for $35 million.

According to Guatemalan prosecutors, the purchase of buses to the capital was made at an artificially inflated price. The former president was temporarily released after posting bail. He remained, however, effectively under house arrest, pending his trial.

The case was also investigated by the former United Nations Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

Alvaro Colom, a textile businessman before entering politics, beat former military intelligence chief Otto Pérez Molina in 2007 to become the first left-wing politician to be elected president since the end of the country’s civil war. in 1996.


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