Article: IDB Loan
Guatemala gets $100M loan to fight poverty
Big News Network.com
The Inter-American Development Bank Thursday approved a $100 million loan to help Guatemala provide better healthcare and education.
The money will be disbursed over a 24-month period as the government follows its specific poverty reduction targets for the poorest municipalities in the country, known as the Guate Solidaria strategy.
At the crux of the plan is to improve social services, particularly primary education and healthcare for the poorest people. It also aims to boost government efficiency and reduce school dropout rates, the Washington-based IDB said.
Posted by elcanche at 04:46 PM
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(Thanks to Mom for this funny email!)
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread all tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.
Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
Posted by elcanche at 04:41 PM
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Article: Gangs in Mexico
Central American Street Gangs Spread Across Mexico
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Violent gangs with roots in U.S. crime culture are spreading through Mexico, with some setting up shop in the capital, the government said on Thursday.
The gangs, or "maras" as they are known, have their roots in a wave of convicts sent back to Central America from the United States in the 1990s and who are said to have brought Los Angeles gang culture to the region.
Blamed for beheadings, murders and rapes, their presence has spread throughout El Salvador to neighboring Honduras and Guatemala and now Mexico.
"We are concerned about the phenomenon from the point of view of public security," Mexican Interior Minister Santiago Creel told reporters on Thursday.
The mara members, easily identified by gang tattoos, have been linked with all sorts of crime in Mexico, including drugs and weapons trafficking.
Eduardo Medina Mora, the director of Mexico's national security institute (CISEN), said gang members have been detained in 21 Mexican states but 85 percent of them were in the southern states of Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca.
Members of the gangs flooded into Central America eight years ago when the U.S. Congress passed a law ordering non-U.S. citizens who were sentenced to more than a year in jail to be deported after serving their time.
Medina said Mexico was working with U.S. and Central American authorities to help control the Maras, although the task was complicated because they are not tightly organized like drug cartels, but operate instead as independent groups.
Posted by elcanche at 03:31 PM
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Article: Mexico's Trash
Hundreds live off Mexico's trash
Jobless rate pushes Guatemala migrants to try eking out survival at dump
Republic Mexico City Reporter
TAPACHULA, Mexico - Rosalinda Martínez Ramírez came from Guatemala to Mexico looking for a better life. Instead, she ended up in the trash heaps of a sweltering border town, picking through stinking truckloads of garbage to survive.
For hundreds of Guatemalan immigrants, the municipal dump west of Tapachula is the end of the road, the squalid bottom of a chain of immigration that stretches all the way to the United States.
As Mexico endures its highest unemployment in seven years, immigrants from neighboring Guatemala are finding it harder to get jobs in Mexico. Many try to move on to the United States. Some return to the crushing poverty back home.
Others end up in Tapachula, five miles inside the border in Chiapas state, collecting metal, glass, paper and cardboard to sell to junk dealers for $15 or less a week.
"There's nowhere else to go," said Martínez, 38, of Tacamulco, Guatemala.
Martínez stepped carefully through the trash with her 8-year-old daughter, Claudia Victoria, while carrying a plastic sugar sack and a long, sharp hook used for spearing aluminum cans from the garbage.
Nearby, dozens of black, knee-high buzzards hopped around a pool of blood from a slaughterhouse, pulling severed cows' tails from a green pile of manure. Hundreds of more buzzards wheeled overhead.
Insects covered a rotting squash. A scarred dog slept in the sun as flies buzzed and crawled over it. The stench of trash hung in the humid air.
The trash-pickers, known as chacharreros, live in shacks on the outskirts of the dump. Their numbers vary from 100 to 300 depending on the economy and the seasonal demand for farmworkers, said the dump's manager, Leobardo Pérez Sandoval.
Lately, the population has been on the rise, coinciding with a wave of illegal immigration from recession-ridden Central American countries. Mexico's National Immigration Institute says it has captured and deported more than 85,400 Guatemalans so far this year, compared with 72,600 in all of 2003.
Life at the dump revolves around the trash-collection schedules in Tapachula, a town of 272,000, and the arrival of the garbage trucks around noon.
One recent weekday, about a dozen trash-pickers followed each truck as it lumbered through the mounds of refuse.
They began hooking beer cans from the trash even as the garbage truck was opening up. Then they sorted quickly through the pile it left, pulling out the metal and glass with their bare hands.
Claudia Victoria, Martínez's daughter, watched from a nearby pile. She has a brilliant smile, but it dimmed when asked if she liked school.
"I haven't sent her to school," Martinez said. "There isn't time."
Looking at the ground, Claudia said she couldn't read.
A few feet away, 10-year-old Josué Reymundo Lan moved through the trash heaps with his two brothers. He rattled off the prices that junk dealers will pay: 3 pesos (about 25 cents ) for a sugar sack full of unbroken glass bottles; 8 pesos (70 cents) for aluminum cans; 25 Mexican cents (2 U.S. cents) for steel cans.
"We work from 7 in the morning until it gets dark, and we earn almost nothing," he said.
Reymundo has a habit of beginning his sentences with "well, look," which gives him a professorial air beyond his years. Asked if he can read and write, he leaned on the hook.
"Look, I went to school until the second grade," he said. "I know some words but not the others."
Older immigrants said life in Mexico was easier years ago when they could get jobs harvesting coffee in the small Mexican farms covering the Tacana volcano. But with the price of coffee depressed, many Mexican coffee growers are looking for work themselves, and the farms aren't hiring Guatemalans anymore.
Almost every night, Mexican authorities sweep through the train yards, arresting undocumented Guatemalans as they try to hop freight trains north to the United States.
Police raided the dump a few months ago, said Pablo Nejera Ventura, a junk dealer. They forced the trash-pickers to pay 40 pesos, or about $3.50, for credentials allowing them to continue working there, he said. All of them complied.
"We might earn only 200 pesos (about $17) in a good week, but, believe it or not, it's still more than we can earn in Guatemala," Adolfo López said.
He and four companions from San Marcos, Guatemala, have been here three years.
Nejera said the trash-pickers provide a valuable service to Mexico, sorting out tons of recyclable material from the trash every month.
"The authorities say these people are illegals and they don't want them in the dump," Nejera said. "But if they're not here, they're just going to be wandering around unemployed. All they want is a way to survive."
Posted by elcanche at 12:00 PM
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