Drugs, murder, politics in Guatemala

Dan Grech Sep 8, 2007


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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