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Guatemala elections and drug cartels – also a risk for America

Drug cartels have a grip on Guatemala, harming that country and posing a risk to the US. September elections – and the government that emerges – need transparency and reform to free officials from the influence of cartels.

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Guatemalans go to the polls next month to elect a new government, but many fear the elections will be tainted by drug cartels and organized crime.The spike in political killings and drug-related bloodshed is so alarming that when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Guatemala in June, she upped by a third America’s pledge to help Central American leaders combat organized crime – promising a total of $300 million.

As the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, the United States has a huge stake in preventing drug cartels from further infiltrating and destabilizing the already fragile Central American countries. Drug-related violence in Guatemala is at an all-time high; in 2009 the World Bank reported the death rate there was equal to that in Iraq, and it continues to rise.

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