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Drugs, murder, politics in Guatemala

Family members weep as they find the corpse of town councelor candidate Esmeralda Uyu Sican. Uyu Sican and Wenceslao Ayapan Zep, both members of the party that has indigenous leader and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu as candidate, were found murdered four days before the general elections in Guatemala this Sunday.

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: In Guatemala this week, two municipal candidates were shot dead ahead of this Sunday's nationwide elections. Drug-related violence has claimed 50 lives in just four months -- politicians, activists and their relatives. So why this bloodshed? From the Americas Desk at WLRN, here's Marketplace's Dan Grech:


Dan Grech: These murders have been orchestrated by drug cartels, says professor George Grayson at the College of William and Mary.

George Grayson: The drug cartels seem determined to send a message to Guatemala's political elite. As a result, blood is flowing in the streets.

The message: back off.

Grayson says the drug cartels worry Guatemala's next president may follow neighboring Mexico's lead.

Grayson: The Mexicans have really rolled up their sleeves and are cracking down hard on the shipments by sea and by air.

That means drugs must travel by land, across Central America and then into Mexico. Authorities say now up to 90 percent of the South American cocaine that ends up in the U.S. passes first through Guatemala.

That translates to tens of billions of dollars, more than enough to sway a presidential election.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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