Potential Hot Spots: Guatemala

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: Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War

November 18, 2007: It was close, but center-left candidate Alvaro Colom was elected president of Guatemala, beating Otto Perez Molina, a former general, in the November 4 run-off election. Colom received 53 percent of the vote. Pre-election violence began getting pretty nasty in September, and for awhile it looked like supporters of the "leftist" Colom (National Unity of Hope Party) and the "rightist" Perez Molina (Patriot Party) were fighting a small-scale version of the 106--96 Guatemalan civil war that raged for thirty years. Nineteen members of Colom's party were killed during the campaign. Around 250,000 people were killed during the civil war, and all the wounds have not healed. Perez Molina served as an intelligence officer and also commanded an army unit that fought in the El Quiche region. The general was involved in negotiating peace but many left-wingers accuse him of being responsible for the murder of a lot of Indians. Violence is on the increase in Guatemala.. Officials say nearly 6,000 people have been murdered. What's caused the sustained violence? Narcotics traffickers, particularly cocaine cartels. Perez Molina got a lot of during the campaign when he promised to declare a "state of emergency" and send the Guatemalan Army into neighborhoods with high murder rates. However, to many Guatemalans (or Guatemaltecans), that promise sounded like the army's way of handling troubles during the civil war.

 

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