Jorge Serrano Elias's recent inauguration to succeed Vinicio Cerezo marked the first time in Guatemala's history that one elected president followed another. Mr. Serrano, a right-wing businessman and evangelical Protestant in a predominantly Catholic country, trounced newspaper proprietor Jorge Carpio Nicolle by better than 2-1.
Mr. Serrano benefited from association with former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt. He must cope with endemic civil war, a politically potent army, corruption, human rights abuse, a failed economy and one political murder a day. He seeks national unity and negotiations with guerrillas. Mr. Serrano deserves international patience as he tries to prove himself. If successful, he will go out of office the way he came in, as the result of a free election.