In Guatemala, Food Insecurity a Neglected Threat

In Guatemala, Food Insecurity a Neglected Threat

Guatemala is confronting numerous problems as it prepares for presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 11. Organized criminal groups have made parts of the country all but lawless. Corruption and poverty remain widespread. Frequent natural disasters have strained state capacity. Even the preparations for the elections themselves have been plagued by political violence, with two dozen political workers killed in 2011 alone. But one problem has yet to become a major feature of the presidential campaign, despite its gravity: food insecurity, which threatens millions in Guatemala.

With food prices rising globally, social upheaval over increasingly expensive basic staples has become more common. Food security was cited as one of the main causes of the popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales was forced to abandon a public event earlier this year after angry miners threw dynamite while protesting against food shortages.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned in February that food prices are rising to "dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people," while Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization told Bloomberg Businessweek that "the low-income food deficit countries are on the front line of the current surge in world prices."

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