Monday, August 8, 2011

Campaign Violence in Guatemala

Two individuals connected to UCN and UNE political campaigns were killed over the weekend in Guatemala. These deaths once again bring attention to the violent electoral season in Guatemala. However, there are a few ways to look at the campaign violence. The list isn't exhaustive obviously.

  • Guatemala is a pretty violent country in general and one shouldn't expect campaigns in particular to be much different.
  • While several candidates and campaign workers have been killed, it's not at all clear that a candidate or campaign worker has a greater chance of being killed than any other Guatemalan.
  • This year's campaign has seen fewer murders compared to 2007 (~35 to ~55).
  • Campaign season has been pretty violent, but there were fewer murders in May, June and July 2011 than those same three months in 2009 and 2010. 
  • There's no indication that murders have gone up during the heat of this year's campaign season or that it did during the 2003 and 2007 elections. Statistically speaking, campaign months are no more violent than non-campaign months.
  • I can't find any links but even though El Salvador is a much more violent country in terms of the murder rate, it doesn't experience the same level of campaign violence.
Again, I don't want to give the impression that everything is rosy in Guatemala and that we shouldn't be worried about the levels of political violence associated with the campaign. It's worrisome, but there is some evidence that things are getting better. And the violence associated with the campaigns is just one of the many problems surrounding Guatemalan politics unfortunately.

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