June 18, 2019 at 11:37 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay man poised to win seat in Guatemala congress

Aldo Dávila is one of two openly gay men who were candidates for Guatemala’s congress. Preliminary results of national elections that took place on June 16, 2019, indicate Dávila won a seat. (Photo courtesy of Aldo Dávila)

An openly gay man is poised to win a seat in Guatemala’s congress.

Local media reports say the preliminary results of Sunday’s national elections indicate Aldo Dávila of the Winaq Movement, a leftist party founded by Rigoberta Menchú, an indigenous human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, won enough votes to secure a seat in Congress.

Dávila is the executive director of Asociación Gente Positiva, a Guatemala City-based HIV/AIDS service organization. He also attended an LGBTQ Victory Institute-backed conference that took place in Bogotá, Colombia, last month.

“It is important that we begin to start to be in places where we can make decisions,” Dávila told the Washington Blade on March 5 during an interview at his office.

Agencia Presentes, an LGBTI news website that covers Guatemala and other Latin American countries, reported Dávila is one of two openly gay men who ran for Congress.

Otto René Félix is a member of the far-left Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) party, a one-time guerrilla movement that formally entered politics in 1998, two years after the signing of the peace accord that ended Guatemala’s decades-long civil war.

Félix noted to the Blade during a March 5 interview at URNG’s headquarters in Guatemala City that many LGBTI Guatemalans are unable to access health care or employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He also said the life expectancy of trans Guatemalan women is under 40 years because of rampant violence.

“There is a lot of social inequality in Guatemala,” Félix told the Blade.

Félix on Tuesday acknowledged he did not receive enough votes.

“Thank you for your confidence,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

“I will continue fighting for the defense of human rights of everyone and for the recognition of the LGBTI community in democratic life from outside or from the inside,” he added.

José Carlos Hernández and Henry Cortez, who are also openly gay, ran for the Central American Parliament. Preliminary results indicate Hernández won a seat in the regional legislative body.

Congresswoman Sandra Morán, a member of Convergencia, a left-leaning political movement that advocates on behalf of indigenous Guatemalans and other underrepresented groups in the country, in 2015 became the first openly LGBTI person elected to Guatemala’s congress.

Sunday’s elections took place against the backdrop of anger over corruption allegations against President Jimmy Morales and his family and a continued exodus of Guatemalan migrants who are fleeing poverty. Sandra Torres and Alejandro Giammattei are expected to face off against each other in the presidential election’s second round that is scheduled to take place on Aug. 11.

Rafts are used to transport people and goods across the Suchiate River, which marks the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Roxsana Hernández, a transgender Honduran woman with HIV who died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in 2018, is among the tens of thousands of migrants who have crossed this river in recent months. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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