by Benjamin Kerstein – Algeneiner
A prominent Guatemalan supporter of Israel who once said, “He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy,” won the country’s presidential election with 58.5 percent of the vote, results on Monday confirmed.
Conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei emerged victorious in the vote in the second round of elections on Sunday, beating his rival Sandra Torres, a former first lady.
Giammattei pledged that citizens “will find a president close to the people.”
The president-elect is a noted supporter of Israel in Latin America. He has pledged to keep Guatemala’s embassy in Jerusalem and expressed his opposition to Iran’s proxy terrorist group Hezbollah, which operates extensively in the region.
He said in a campaign interview that he wanted Guatemala to emulate “the great successes that Israel has had, especially in such important issues as food production, in order to make our lands more productive.”
“This cooperation is urgent for our country,” he added.
“With regard to the embassy in Jerusalem, there we leave it, by faith and conviction, and there it will stay,” he said. Guatemala opened its embassy in the Israeli capital in May 2018, two days after the US did the same.
Asked about his stance on Hezbollah, Giammattei stated, “The designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group, under Guatemalan law, does not depend solely on the President, but has to be ratified by the Congress of the Republic, but I am willing to do it.”
“He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy,” he added.
Speaking to Reuters news agency shortly before being declared victor, Giammattei said he wanted to see what could be done to improve the deal that outgoing President Jimmy Morales agreed to stem U.S.-bound migration from Central America — a key issue during the election. Three million Guatemalans live and work in the United States, which is also the country’s main trading partner.