News in brief from around Latin America.

Here is a roundup of recent news stories from Guatemala, Ecuador and Colombia.

Progressive candidate elected to Guatemalan presidency in surprise result

There has been a major political shift in Guatemala with the victory of progressive candidate Bernardo Arevalo in the presidential election on 20 August. A rank outsider until barely two months earlier, Arevalo roused voters tired of the inequality, corruption and autocracy entrenched under Guatemala’s business and political elite. His Semilla party won 17 of the country’s 22 regional departments, an astounding performance, on a platform of respect for democracy, indigenous rights and social investment. However, right-wing opponents tied to the traditional oligarchy have turned to the courts in an attempt to block Arevalo’s ascension, while the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights warned of an assassination plot against the president-elect. Read more here.

Progressive Luisa González and millionaire Daniel Noboa head to runoff elections in Ecuador

Via Globetrotter

On 20 August, over 13 million Ecuadorians took part in the early general elections to elect the country’s next president, vice president and 137 members of the National Assembly amid a wave of violence and record rates of homicide.

After 60 per cent of the votes had been counted, at around 9pm on 20 August, president of the National Electoral Council Diana Atamaint gave a public address and confirmed that Ecuadorians would return to the polls for a runoff election on 15 October, since no candidate hit the threshold to win outright.

Luisa González of the left-wing Citizen Revolution Movement party won this first round of elections with 33 per cent of the vote, while Daniel Noboa of the right-wing National Democratic Action alliance trailed behind her with 24 per cent. Both candidates will now head to the second round in October.

The key concerns among voters as they headed to the polls on 20 August were sharp increases in crime, which the government of incumbent conservative president Guillermo Lasso blames on drug-trafficking gangs, and the struggling economy, which has caused a rise in unemployment and migration.

González, a protégé of former leftist president Rafael Correa, has promised to address the security crisis by strengthening the institutions and entities in charge of managing security, which she alleges Lasso and ex-president Lenín Moreno dismantled. She also promised to address the root causes of violence, such as poverty and inequality. She has vowed to increase public spending and revive Correa’s large-scale social welfare programmes and public infrastructure projects.

Musician Lisandro Vallecilla Riascos killed during Colombian music festival

Cali’s famous Petronio Alvarez festival was marred by tragedy on 20 August when musician Lisandro Vallecilla Riascos a member of the internationally renowned Pacific folklore group Canelón de Timbiquí, was killed in a shooting. From the coastal region of Guapi, Canelón de Timbiquí blend traditional African-Colombian rhythms with socially conscious messaging (read this review from 2012 by Alborada co-editor Nick MacWilliam). Lisandro was a well-known community organiser whose death adds to the shocking figure of more than 1,500 social activists killed in Colombia since the 2016 peace agreement.