Otto Perez Molina is a retired military officer of the Guatemalan army and is currently the President of Guatemala. Having served many years in the Guatemalan army, he has an abundance of military experience and has held many titles. Some of his former titles include Director of Military Intelligence, Presidential Chief of Staff, and chief representative of the military for the Guatemalan Peace Accords. He was instrumental in ending the 36-year-long Guatemalan Civil War. Aside from these achievements, Molina has been accused of human rights abuses and corruption during his stint in the army. After retiring from the army, Otto Perez Molina founded the ‘Patriotic Party’, a right-wing political party. He ran for the 2007 presidential election but lost narrowly. In 2011, he again ran for presidency and promised to tackle Guatemala’s high crime rate and Mexican drug gangs menace with “iron fist”. This time he won the election with 54% of vote and became the first military official to be elected to the office of the President of Guatemala. As president, Molina has made Guatemala a much more attractive country to do business with and has been awarded for his ability to improve both social and economic aspects of the country’s infrastructure
Childhood & Early Life
Otto Perez Molina was born on December 1, 1950 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
In 1969, Perez Molina graduated from Guatemala’s National Military Academy. He then went on to attend the School of the Americas and the Inter-American Defense College.
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In 1983, Otto Perez Molina was part of a group of army officers who backed Defense Minister Oscar Meijia’a coup d’etat against President Efrain Rios Montt.
From January 1992 to June 1993 he served as D-2 Directorate of Intelligence, one of the army’s two main intelligence-gathering entities during the Guatemalan Civil War.
In 1993, while serving as Chief of Military Intelligence, Molina aided the forced departure of corrupt president Jorge Serrano, who had attempted a self-coup.
He was appointed Presidential Chief of Staff by the President Ramiro de Leon Carpio in 1993 and served in this cappacity until 1995.
He was appointed as the chief representative of the military in the negotiations with the guerilla forces to end the Guatemalan Civil War. He played a key role in the negotiations that brought an end to the 36-year-long conflict and resulted in the 1996 Peace Accords.
He represented Guatemala on the Inter-American Defense Board between 1998 and 2000.
Molina retired from military in January 2000 and became involved in politics.
On February 24th, 2001, hefounded the Patriotic Party, a centre-right political party.
Perez Molina ran for presidency as a member of the Patriotic Party, in 2007, but lost by a narrow margin to Alvaro Colom.
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He ran for the presidency in 2011 again and won the election with 54% of vote. He assumed office as President of Guatemala on January 14th, 2012.
During his first year in office as President, murder rates in Guatemala dropped from 41 per 100,000 in 2010 to 38.6 per 100,000. Molina aims to reduce the homicide rate to 30 murders per 100,000 through use of an expanded police force and by boosting Guatemala’s security presence on its borders in order to combat transnational crime.
After assuming presidency, he launched ‘Zero Hunger Program’ with an aim to reduce chronic malnutrition. However, the program has been criticized for lack of resources and its failure to reach much of the at-risk population due to poor level of organization.
Awards & Achievements
In 1993, the Chamber of Free Enterprise of Guatemala named Molina as one of the top 10 personalities of the year.
At the 19th annual BRAVO Business awards in 2013, Otto Perez Molina received the ‘Leader of the Year Award’ for turning Guatemala into an attractive destination for investment in Latin America. His administration has attracted investments and improved public security, leading to an increase in direct foreign investment in Guatemala of over 20 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Personal Life & Legacy
He has been married to Rosa Perez Leal for over 40 years; Rosa was 17 years old when they got married. The pair has two children: a daughter Lissette Perez and a son Otto Perez Leal.
Molina’s son, Otto Perez Leal, is also involved in politics and joined the Patriot Party in 2008; he was elected Mayor of Mexico on September 11th, 2011.
Otto Perez Molina’s family has been the victim of political attacks multiple times. On February 21st, 2001, a few days before Molina was scheduled to launch the Patriotic Party, masked gunman attacked and wounded his daughter, Lissette. November of that same year, Otto Perez Leal was attack by gunmen while driving with his wife and infant daughter.
While serving in the Guatemalan army Molina was a member of the Kaibiles, the special forces division of the army, and it’s known for its brutality.