Hector Montenegro took a break from election campaigning in Guatemala last
week – to bury his murdered teenage daughter. Her killers had pulled
out her fingernails, tied her hands behind her back, slit her throat,
then stuffed the corpse into the boot of a taxi with two other victims
of similarly brutal attacks.
The distraught congressional candidate for the leading party was in no
doubt that 15-year-old Marta Cristina was the latest victim of a
particularly violent election campaign, even by the standards of a
country that endured a bloody 36-year civil war.
“I am sure that her killing was politically motivated,” said Mr Montenegro, 71, a veteran activist for the poor and elderly. “I am used
to the threatening phone calls, the insults, the people calling me a
communist. But what sort of animal could do this to a teenage girl?”
Forty candidates or senior party officials have already been murdered during
the campaign – a grim tally that does not include supporters or
relatives such as Mr Montenegro’s daughter. With two weeks to go before
the September 9 poll, the death toll makes this the bloodiest election
in the country’s history, as drug lords, crime gangs and political
rivals seek to buy power, settle scores and intimidate enemies….