Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala profile - Leaders

President: Otto Perez Molina

Former army general Otto Perez Molina was elected in November 2011. He is the first former military leader to become president in Guatemala after the end of the regimes of the 1970s and '80s.

He defeated populist businessman Manuel Baldizon, winning nearly 54% of the vote.

After his election, Mr Perez promised to govern with an iron fist to reduce to half the homicide rate in a country living under the threat of gangs, organised crime and international drug traffickers.

In 2015, his administration was engulfed by allegations by a UN investigating commission and the attorney-general's office that Mr Molina and close aides accepted bribes in return for lowering import duties for companies.

The scandal led to the resignation and subsequent arrest of Vice-President Roxanna Baldetti, who was ordered to face trial for her alleged involvement, as well as to a request by the attorney-general for the president's impeachment. Both Mr Molina and Ms Baldetti deny the allegations.

Intelligence officer

Born in 1950 in Guatemala City, Mr Perez was educated at Guatemala's National Military Academy and the US School of the Americas, before going on to a career as a military intelligence officer.

He was one of the group of army officers who backed the 1983 coup of Defence Minister Oscar Mejia against military ruler Efrain Rios Montt, whose regime was accused by a UN report of having committed atrocities during the civil war.

Mr Perez himself has denied any involvement in rights abuses during his time as army general.

As head of the army's powerful intelligence service, he played a key role in instigating the 1993 departure of then President Jorge Serrano, who had sought to acquire extraordinary powers by dissolving Congress and appointing new members to the Supreme Court.

Mr Perez represented the military at peace talks that ended the 36-year-old civil war in 1996. He founded the Patriotic Party in 2001, was elected to Congress in 2001 and came second to Alvaro Colom in the 2007 presidential election.