Guatemala (MNN) — Ministries have cancelled mission trips. Some reports say violence has increased. So what's the danger in Guatemala? Presidential elections.
President Alvaro Colom will conclude his term as president this January when the winner of the September 11, 2011 elections takes office. Currently, most sources agree that Otto Perez Molina, who lost to Colom in the 2007 elections, is the frontrunner in the race.
The winner will be stepping into a difficult role. The struggling country of Guatemala is still trying to recover from a civil war that ended 15 years ago. It's one of the 10 poorest countries in Latin America, with approximately 29% of the population living below the poverty line.
More frightening still — and an issue that has been a frequent topic of Guatemala's presidential debates — is the nation's alarmingly-high homicide rates. Some estimates place Guatemala as the fourth in the world for homicide rates in 2010.
"If the current frontrunner is elected, things should be fine," says Steve Watson, Guatemala Liaison and Trip Leader for Global Aid Network (GAiN). Watson took a group to Guatemala at the beginning of August to work with Campus Crusade for Christ in the city of Chiquimula. They had the chance to help develop ministry with an indigenous people group known as the Chorties, and to bring aid to teachers and students.
During that time, Watson says he was nervous, but things went fine. Beyond political rallies and strikes, nothing disruptive occurred.
Although GAiN's ministry partners are expecting things to go smoothly, Watson says the ministry is still taking precautions.
"We have held off on shipping containers because you never know what the change of government is going to do," says Watson. "So that's the only major disruption we've seen: we're not shipping containers right now."
GAiN cleared its last container in the country last week until the elections end, but the ministry hopes to pick back up with their work to send aid to partners in Guatemala as soon as the coast is clear.
"I do have containers of food, Bibles, clothing and things like that which are ready to ship. Once we see that things are okay, we're going to start shipping again based on how much money we have to ship."
Funding for shipping is always a need. You can help when you click here. Aid goes not just to provide physical needs for recipients, but to share the love of Christ with people who otherwise may never experience it.
Pray for Guatemala as they approach election day. Pray for a leader who will cling to Christ, care for Guatemalans, and bring the nation out of poverty.