December 30, 2005
Flu ... Ew!
It wasn't the Asian Bird Flu.
It was more like the New York Brrr Flu. Or maybe a case of Mad Reindeer Disease. Whatever it was, it has had me flat on my back since Christmas Day.
No sooner were the presents unwrapped than I found myself under wraps: a couple of heavy blankets and a thick comforter. Christmas always sends a chill down my spine, but this year the chill spread to the rest of my body, followed shortly thereafter by a fever, sore throat, sneezing and bone-bruising coughs.
Damned gringo germs. (You know, my Guatemalan coworkers warned me not to drink the water in the States.)
I not only had the "blahs", I had the even more dreadful "bulls":
I felt so TERRIBLE that despite the abundance of chocolate and marzipan in the house (not to mention the chocolate-covered marzipan) I could only stomach liquids.
I felt so HORRIBLE that I my gift certificates to Borders and Barnes & Noble bookstores went unused.
I felt so MISERABLE that I went nearly a week without drinking a single cup of coffee. (I know!)
I had hoped to keep atop the news and maintain this website's cutting-edge commentary on current events, but instead I spent the week under the weather, staring bleary-eyed at the television.
After a week of watching daytime t.v. I have lost not only the ability to speak in Spanish, but also to think coherently in English. I only pray that the brain-damage isn't permanent. What, huh?
And the ads, oh my dear god, the ads. It seemed as if all they were selling were prescription drugs, alcoholic beverages and cars. Oh, and insurance. (Which makes sense: if you're going to wash down a couple of Claritin with some Bud Light before hopping in your Hummer, it's good to be insured!)
I'm sorry that I wasn't able to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Hanukkah". I sincerely hope that your holidays were fun-filled and fever-free.
And since no-one knows what tomorrow holds... I'll wish everyone an early "Feliz Año Nuevo" and a 2006 positively overflowing with happiness!
Tags: Guatemala, Flu, Christmas, Television, Ads
Posted by elcanche at 05:40 PM
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December 22, 2005
Mulling it over in NY
Sorry for the recent silence, but upon returning to New York I decided to try living the unplugged life for a while. I have to admit that it's been really enjoyable being "screen-free" for the past few days.
I've appreciated, for example, reading the New York Times without having to wait for the pages to load first. I've enjoyed making jokes without having to type smiley faces at the end. I've loved receiving people's replies without having to click the "send and receive" button. And while "skyping" with my family is cool, it can't beat talking face-to-face. (And NOTHING in the virtual world can top the hugs from my niece and nephews!)
What has been a bit more difficult to adjust to is the weather. I left an unusually warm Guatemala for a quite chilly New York!
Just yesterday, in fact, I walked to the local mall for some last-minute Christmas shopping. When I arrived at the well-heated mecca of consumerism, I ripped off my ski mask. And then I screamed... because it turns out that I wasn't actually wearing a ski mask. It just felt that way because my face had gone numb from the cold. Ouch, eh?
OK, so the part about ripping my face off didn't actually happen. But it has been "muy frío" here lately. Which, in the end, is a good thing because I refuse to return to Guatemala without having first witnessed a rip-snorter of a winter snowstorm!
For now, though, I'm going to settle back here at the Peekskill Coffee House with a hot mulled apple cider (I have to confess that I have no idea what "mulled" means. Maybe it's German for "yummy".)
I'll be around during the next few days, so check back every once-in-a-while! (When you're not decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, eating, or sleeping in... that is.)
I hope that you all are enjoying these festive days surrounded by friends and family!
Tags: Guatemala, New York, Christmas, Peekskill, Mulled
Posted by elcanche at 04:28 PM
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December 21, 2005
Urgent Action: Violence Against Transvestites
I just received the following Amnesty International Urgent Action appeal from the folks at NISGUA.
The gay community in Guatemala, especially the transvestite sex workers who toil the city streets at night, are often the targets of abuse, attacks and even assassinations.
I have heard the insults, and even seen the glass bottles, hurled at them.
This particular attack, where two transvestites were shot repeatedly by four men in police uniforms, took place half a block from my former office in Zone 1.
These acts of discrimination and violence have their roots in the "culture of machismo" that sadly still reigns in Guatemala, especially within the nation's security forces.
I would urge all of you to take a moment to read, and respond to, the following Urgent Action.
21 December 2005
Urgent Action 325/05
FEAR FOR SAFETY:
Sulma (legal name Kevin Josue Alegria Robles)
Other transvestite sex workers in Guatemala City
Other members of the Organizacion de Apoyo a una Sexualidad Integral frente al SIDA, Integral Sexuality AIDS Support Organization (OASIS)
Paulina, aged 22 (legal name Juan Pablo Mendez Cartagena), OASIS worker
Transvestite sex worker Sulma (legal name Kevin Robles) was shot in the head, allegedly by police, on 17 December, and remains in hospital in a serious condition. Another transvestite sex worker was killed in the attack. As Sulma witnessed the killing, the attackers are likely to attempt to silence her, but the authorities have not responded to requests to give her protection.
In the early hours of 17 December Sulma was in Zone One of Guatemala City, at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 11th Street, with another transvestite sex worker, Paulina (legal name Juan Pablo Mendez Cartagena). Four men on motorbikes, who witnesses say were in police uniform, ordered them to stop, and then shot them. Paulina was hit twice in the head: she died minutes later. Sulma was hit three times but survived, and is in a serious but stable condition in hospital. She can only speak with difficulty, as one of the bullets reportedly smashed all her front teeth.
Several other transvestite sex workers witnessed the shooting, but are reportedly too scared to give testimony, fearing police reprisals. Police have reportedly been patrolling the streets near the shooting, in an apparent effort to intimidate the witnesses.
Since 1999 Sulma has been member of, and worked as a volunteer for, the Guatemala City-based Organizacion de Apoyo a una Sexualidad Integral frente al SIDA, Integral Sexuality AIDS Support Organisation (OASIS), which works on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and provides support to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. Paulina had started paid work at OASIS in 2004 and since then had only occasionally had to make money as a sex worker.
OASIS has requested police protection for Sulma in hospital and the Human Rights Ombudsman's office has reportedly requested protection from the Interior Ministry. However, to date no protection has been provided.
The LGBT community in Guatemala regularly faces attacks and threats. Transvestite sex workers have been particularly vulnerable to attack. Police officers are often allegedly involved, raising fears of a clandestine policy of "social cleansing" within the police force, intended to drive sex workers off the streets. According to OASIS, this year seven transvestite sex workers have been killed on the streets of Guatemala City. Police have intimidated OASIS members many times in an attempt to stop them from carrying out their legitimate work of promoting the rights of Guatemala's LGBT community. In May 2003 two men attempted to kidnap OASIS director Jorge Lopez, but he managed to escape from the car they had forced him into. OASIS has often publicly condemned the police for abuses against male, female and transvestite sex workers.
In June 2005 Guatemala's Evangelical and Catholic Churches proposed a law that would prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Since then, the number of threats and attacks against the LGBT community has increased. On 7 October transvestite sex worker Michelle (legal name Juan Manuel Villa Soto) died after she was so severely beaten that her head was crushed.
Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- expressing grave concern for the safety of Sulma, other sex workers and members of OASIS;
- calling on the authorities to take immediate measures to protect Sulma in accordance with her own wishes;
- calling on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the attack against Sulma and Paulina, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to take immediate measures to end the intimidation of sex workers and LGBT people; and of those working with OASIS so that they can carry out their lawful activities without fear of intimidation.
Minister of the Interior:
Ministro de Gobernación
6a.Avenida 4-64, zona 4, nivel 3
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2362 02 37
Salutation: Estimado Ministro/ Dear Minister
Fiscal General de la Republica y jefe del Ministerio Publico
Juan Luis Florido
8a. Avenida 10-67, Zona 1 Tercer Nivel
Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2251 2218
Salutation: Estimado Fiscal General/ Dear Sir
Director General of the National Civil:
Director General de la Policía Nacional Civil
Edwin Johann Sperisen
6a Avenida 13-71, Zona 1, 1er nivel
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2251 9382
Salutation: Estimado Director General/ Dear Sir
Human Rights Procurador:
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
Dr. Sergio Fernando Morales Alvarado
Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos (PDH)
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2424 1714
Salutation: Señor Procurador/ Dear Sir
OASIS (organización de apoyo a una sexualidad Integral Frente al Sida): 6ª AV. 1-63 Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala 01001, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2221 2800
you will get a recorded message, press 1 to get fax tone
Ambassador Jose Guillermo Castillo
Embassy of Guatemala
2220 R St. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 745 1908
Please send appeals immediately.
Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights.
This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.
Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
PO Box 1270
Nederland CO 80466-1270
Phone: 303 258 1170
Fax: 303 258 7881
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL
Tags: Guatemala, Transvestite, Sex, Workers, Violence
Posted by elcanche at 03:05 PM
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December 16, 2005
Next stop: New York
This will be my last post from Guatemala.
No, hold on... please stop the wailing and the gnashing of teeth! What I meant to say is that this will be my last journal entry in Guatemala until January 2006, when I return from my Christmas vacation.
Tomorrow morning, at the hideously unreal hour of 5:30am, I'll be checking my bags at La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City for a flight to New York.
Home for the holidays... I can't wait! (Although I guess I'll have to... I've got a 5 hour layover in Miami.)
And so, as the evangelical church down the street belts out "Gloria in Excelsis Deo", let me wish you a wonderful evening and a relaxing weekend!
The next time you hear from me, I'll be tawkin wid a funny New Yawk accent. (Yo, you got a problem wid dat?!?)
Tags: Guatemala, New York, Vacation, Christmas, Holidays
Posted by elcanche at 07:44 PM
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Mayan Sistine Chapel UPDATE
Tonight, a quick update to the "Mayan Sistine Chapel" journal entry about the discovery of a 2,000 year old mural in Guatemala portraying the Maya story of creation.
Here's a three links that contain additional information about this remarkable find:
* A high-resolution image where you can better appreciate the mural's details and beauty.
* The Proyecto San Bartolo website, with background history and conservation information.
* The Daily Glyph website, with a 20mb iPod Video of the archaeological site and the discovery.
Tags: Guatemala, Mayan, Mural, Archeology, Maya
Posted by elcanche at 06:33 PM
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December 14, 2005
DNA & identifying the dead
Two important stories broke today about Guatemala's ongoing struggle to combat impunity and face the horrors of its recent past.
This second article discusses how modern DNA testing technology can help identify massacre victims from Guatemala's civil war, and help bring those responsible for these atrocities to justice.
Latin America turns to DNA tests to solve war crimes
By Mica Rosenberg
Guatemala City, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Boxes of bones from mass graves line the walls of an open-air laboratory, where remains from men, women and children killed during Guatemala's 36-year civil war wait to be identified.
Many of their families have waited in agony for decades to put the bones to rest. While few of the killers have been prosecuted, researchers now hope to set justice in motion by using advanced DNA testing to identify the human remains starting next year in the first large-scale effort in Latin America.
The researchers at the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala hope the testing will provide key pieces of evidence needed to punish those responsible for massacres during the armed conflict that claimed some 200,000 lives.
Such technology has been used to identify victims from the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and the Bosnia war, but now for the first time it will be used on a broad scale to help solve extra-judicial murders and disappearances that took place during the "dirty wars" in Central and South America.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee earmarked $3 million for DNA analysis of skeletons exhumed from clandestine grave sites in Guatemala, Argentina and Peru. Work in Guatemala is expected to begin early next year.
Argentina will likely receive close to $1.4 million, and the other two countries will be allocated $800,000 each.
"This is important for the families of those who were killed or disappeared, as well as for the cause of international justice," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who spearheaded the effort to fund the DNA testing. "By exposing the truth about what happened we can help prevent future atrocities."
WORLD TRADE CENTER TO MASS GRAVES
Following the Balkan wars and the Sept. 11 attacks, private laboratories developed accelerated DNA testing techniques and computer programs to process thousands of genetic sequences at a time.
The Bode Technology Group, a Virginia-based lab unit of database giant ChoicePoint , ran over 18,000 tests on decomposed and contaminated remains to identify victims from the World Trade Center.
Although DNA evidence is often gathered by police in developed countries, there has been little DNA testing in Guatemala due to lack of funds. This has made it difficult for forensic anthropologists to identify victims of clandestine war crimes, many of whom were piled into secret mass graves.
Researchers try to match eyewitness testimony about more than 3,000 bodies exhumed since 1992 with physical evidence like clothes and teeth, without the help of genetic information.
At the foundation offices, Mayan relatives in traditional clothing look on as anthropologists examine rib cages and jawbones of 13 skeletons recently removed from mass graves in Quiche and Chimaltenango, two of the most violent regions during the war where civilians were trapped in battles between leftist rebels and government troops.
The bones are washed, X-rayed, neatly labeled and cataloged. After identification, they are placed in simple wooden coffins so relatives can finally hold proper burials.
The new funding will allow Guatemalan anthropologists to send bone samples from their excavation sites to the Bode labs for DNA testing.
This evidence, matched with blood samples from living family members, could provide strong evidence for future prosecutions.
Many of the dead were massacred in villages across the Indian highlands. The majority were victims of government forces according to the country's Truth Commission report, which was released after the war ended with U.N.-brokered peace accord in 1996.
But many war crimes remain unsolved.
In the town of Comalapa in southern Guatemala the foundation dug up some 210 bodies around a military base, many killed in the 1980s during the rule of former dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt. So far only one person has been identified.
"People were captured and removed from their homes," said Fredy Peccerelli, the foundation's director who has received death threats for his work. "They were buried in different places over a long time, so identifying them is very complex."
Peccerelli hopes the new genetic testing initiative will lead to more rigorous investigation of crimes past and present in a nation with one of the highest murder rates in Central America.
"Only about 5 percent of homicide investigations in Guatemala use scientific evidence," said Peccerelli. "I hope this begins to show prosecutors and judges that to catch those responsible, we now have better tools."
Tags: Guatemala, DNA, Massacres, Justice, Human Rights
Posted by elcanche at 11:10 PM
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MORE Police files found!
Two important stories broke today about Guatemala's ongoing struggle to combat impunity and face the horrors of its recent past.
In this first article, the astounding revelation that millons more police files have been discovered throughout the country that detail the involvement of the Guatemalan National Police in crimes against humanity during the armed conflict.
No one would dare to predict, at this point, what the examination of these documents might lead to. All I can say is that justice for some of the victims of Guatemala's State-sponsored terrorism seems closer now than ever before.
This is just the beginning of a fascinating and promising process. 2006 could be a very interesting year for Guatemala!
War crime file growing against Guatemalan police
By Mica Rosenberg
Guatemala City, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Guatemala has found millions more files documenting torture and murder committed by police during the country's long civil war, adding to a massive archive that details past government atrocities.
Truckloads of documents seized from around the country arrived in Guatemala City on Wednesday, among the 15 to 20 million files piled in plastic sacks and crumpled cardboard boxes that are being collected by national human rights officials from police precincts in 14 states.
Accompanied by human rights officials and police escorts, they will be warehoused with some 120 million other documents, creating the largest police archive of its kind in Latin America.
Investigators believe that among the files, which contain all the daily dealings of Guatemala's National Police including death records and telegrams from as far back as the 1930s, may be encoded evidence of disappearances ordered by security forces during the country's armed conflict.
"These archives are of tremendous importance to the country for three reasons," said Frank LaRue, director of a presidential advisory commission on human rights.
"First, because they can be used to investigate past human rights violations; second, for potential prosecution of those responsible for disappearances since those cases are still open, in some cases, after 20 years; and third, they will expose past corruption and official violence," he said.
About 200,000 people died during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, most of them during the late 1970s and 1980s. After U.N.-backed peace accords ended the fighting in 1996, the nation's Truth Commission found most of the killings were carried out by government security forces.
The Truth Commission found the National Police supported the military with intelligence and logistic support.
Housed in a warehouse behind a car dump at the National Police Academy, a small staff of rights workers and police sifts through the archives' millions of mildewed and dusty pages.
Sergio Morales, the head of the human rights ombudsman's office, visited the archives on Wednesday to oversee the arrival of the new documents. He said international archival experts from Europe will help catalogue and decode some of the most sensitive material, a task that could take years.
"We will soon see if some of these documents can confirm information that we already suspect," says Veronica Godoy, who heads the nongovernmental Public Security Monitoring and Support Group. "These files can show us what happened in the past so that history won't repeat itself."
Tags: Guatemala, Police, Archives, Justice, Human Rights
Posted by elcanche at 10:34 PM
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Bush's terrible and terrifying war on terror
Sometimes coincidences are just too interesting to ignore.
This morning I read various articles about George Bush's soon-to-be-infamous Iraq speech in Philadelphia. The highlight, or if you prefer, lowlight of the speech came (as it so often does) when he went "off the page" to answer questions from the audience.
Bush: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.
Yes, for the first time ever, the Bush administration put a number (many would say a conservative number) on the civilian body count since the beginning of the illegal invasion of Iraq. And although other White House denizens tried to distance the President from his own words by saying that "Bush was not giving an official figure but simply repeating public estimates", the numbers were out there.
However, the most honest... and the most troubling... of Bush's statements was yet to come:
Bush: I made a tough decision. And knowing what I know today, I'd make the decision again. Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and America a safer country.
It's the Bush mantra: no regret, no remorse, no repentance. Yes, thanks to the bloodshed in Iraq, America is safer and the world is a better place.
Which of course leads me to the "interesting coincidence" I mentioned earlier.
This afternoon, from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, I received the following communiqué which I publish here for the enlightenment of all American Citizens:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
1. This Public Announcement updates information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests overseas. This supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated August 2, 2005 and expires on June 12, 2006.
2. The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Ongoing events in Iraq have resulted in demonstrations and associated violence in several countries. Americans are reminded that demonstrations and rioting can occur with little or no warning.
3. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics to include assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings.
4. Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. The hotel bombings in Jordan in early November illustrate how terrorists exploit vulnerabilities associated with soft targets. Additional examples of such targets include residential areas, business offices, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas and locales where Americans gather in large numbers, including during holidays.
5. In the wake of the July 2005 London bombings and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid, Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. In addition, extremists may also select aviation and maritime services as possible targets.
6. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" found at http://travel.state.gov.
7. U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Americans abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
8. As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
Now I have a question, not for President Bush, but for all the other U.S. citizens out there: "do you feel safer America?"
I'll close this journal entry with one final quote from Bush's speech:
Bush: Democracy's only going to succeed if people say, 'My life is going to be better.' I mean, it's no different than a campaign here, you know, 'Vote for me. I want to help improve your life.'
Tags: Guatemala, Bush, Iraq, Terrorism, Speech
Posted by elcanche at 12:24 AM
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December 13, 2005
Mayan Sistine Chapel
Here are excerpts from a fascinating article about the recent discovery of a 2,000 year old mural that some are calling the "Mayan Sistine Chapel". Make sure you pick up the January edition of National Geographic magazine for the full story!
Oldest Maya mural wows archaeologists
Randolph E. Schmid
A detail from a sacred Maya mural at San Bartolo, Guatemala — the earliest known Maya painting, depicting the birth of the cosmos and the divine right of a king — shows the son of the corn god, patron of kings, floating with a pair of birds tied to his woven hunting basket, letting blood and offering a sacrificed turkey before one of five cosmic trees.
Archaeologist William Saturno said Tuesday he was awe-struck when he uncovered a Maya mural not seen for nearly two millennia.
In brilliant color, the mural tells the Maya story of creation, he said. It was painted around the year 100 B.C., but later covered when the room was filled in.
National Geographic Society, which supported Saturno's work and will detail the finding in the January issue of its magazine, called it the oldest preserved Maya mural.
The mural includes four deities, which are variations of the same figure, the son of the corn god. The first deity stands in the water and offers a fish, establishing the watery underworld. The second stands on the ground and sacrifices a deer, establishing the land. The third floats in the air, offering a turkey, establishing the sky. The fourth stands in a field of flowers, the food of gods, establishing paradise.
Another section shows the corn god crowning himself king upon a wooden scaffold, and the final section shows a historic coronation of a Maya king.
Read the entire article
Tags: Guatemala, Mayan, Mural, Archeology, Maya
Posted by elcanche at 10:01 PM
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December 12, 2005
Survivor: Guatemala Mommy?
Now here's an interesting ending to the Survivor: Guatemala story. According to a newspaper article, Danni Boatwright, the million dollar winner on Survivor, has some unusual plans for her winnings:
"Boatwright plans to spend some of the money on Christmas presents, but her long-term goal is to use the cash to adopt a baby. She's thinking of adopting a child, perhaps in Guatemala, next summer."
I would urge Ms Boatwright to reconsider. I don't think that adopting a child from Guatemala is in her best interests. I would suggest that if she indeed wants to adopt from Guatemala, it should be a full grown adult. I volunteer.
In fact, Danni, I've compiled a top ten list of reasons why you should adopt me:
1. No messy diapers to deal with.
2. I can burp myself.
3. Think of the money you'll save on babysitters.
4. I can translate for you during my adoption hearings.
5. My college education is already paid for.
6. I'll never grow out of my clothes (well not height-wise, anyway).
7. If you're tired, I could read bedtimes stories to you.
8. I'll not only clean my room, but drive to the store for cleaning supplies.
9. Discipline would be easy: I love being in "time out"!
And now, Danni, the final reason why you should consider adopting me:
10. "Mommy, you look tense. Would you like a backrub?"
So there you have it. Why bother with trials and tribulations of raising an infant, when you can fast forward though the growing pains? In fact since I already turned out to be a nice guy, you'd instantly be considered a wonderful parent!
Ok, even in the midst of all this silliness I try to make this blog somewhat useful. For those of you truly interested in Guatemalan adoptions (and even for you, Danni, if you decide to go "that way"... sigh) here is a link to one of the best sites I've seen on this subject:
Guatadopt.com - Guatemala adoption information & news
Tags: Guatemala, Survivor, Danni, Boatwright, Adoption
Posted by elcanche at 09:10 PM
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December 11, 2005
Adiós Survivor: Guatemala
It appears that Guatemala's 15 minutes of fame have come to an end.
Tonight was the final episode of Survivor: Guatemala. As a service to my readers, I made the sacrifice of sitting though the final two-hour special. (What, you think I'm exaggerating? I actually had to pass up an episode of the West Wing for this drivel.)
If you notice a tone of resentment in this journal entry it's probably due to the fact that tonight a young woman, Danni Boatwright, received ONE MILLION DOLLARS for "surviving" 39 days in Guatemala. Meanwhile I've been "surviving" here for 16 years and can't get anyone to pick up my lunch tab.
Anyway, here is my final thought on this reality tv series: I guess it wasn't as harmful as I had feared, nor as helpful as I had hoped.
I haven't read any reports of ecological damage from the presence of the cast, crew, and staff who invaded the protected archeological site to film the series. (Although I am guessing that some clear-cutting had to take place to build the mega-maze used in tonight's show, for example.)
On the other hand, my hope that the show would somehow generate an interest in, and knowledge of, Guatemala seems to be overly optimistic.
It wasn't until tonight's program that some real, live Guatemalans make a guest appearance on the show. (That's right: at the end of 39 days surviving in Guatemala, the contestants actually get to meet a few of the people who actually live here!)
A group of five indigenous men and women arrive at the Survivor camp to perform a Mayan ceremony. Sadly, viewers aren't enlightened as to the significance of the ceremony (the colored candles, the honey, the spices, etc.) but instead have to depend on the half-cocked comments of the confused contestants.
During the brief ceremony a chicken is sacrificed (something I have never seen in any of the Mayan ceremonies I've attended) and thrown in the fire.
Sadly, the post-ceremony conversation of the "survivors" centers not on the social, cultural, or religious implications of the event that they were privileged to attend but rather... whether they should eat the chicken (after being told by one of the Mayan priests that this wasn't allowed.)
Once the Guatemalans depart from the scene, three of the four remaining contestants agree to devour the burnt chicken carcass left in the ashes. Shortly thereafter a wicked thunderstorm descends on the camp and the worried gringos wonder if they've angered the Mayan gods.
Pissed-off gods or no, it certainly was a pathetic conclusion to one of the few truly cultural moments on the show.
When the two-hour ordeal had finally ended I was amazed. Amazed, that is, that the show hadn't completely ruined my appetite. (My respect for American culture was crushed, but not my hunger.)
I decided to walk to a nearby Pollo Campero for a late night chicken dinner (fried, not sacrificed).
As I was eating my "pollo frito", a young Mayan girl, maybe five years old, accidentally backed into my chair. I looked at her, and she looked at me. Suddenly a huge smile lit across her beautiful face. "Buenas noches" I said, as she broke into a fit of giggles and ran off to join her sisters.
And then it hit me:
If it meant being allowed to stay here for only 39 days, I wouldn't want to be a contestant on... or even the winner of... Survivor Guatemala. You can keep the million dollars, because I have the true prize: when tomorrow comes, I'll still be here.
Tags: Guatemala, Survivor, Survivor: Guatemala, Mayan, Ceremony
Posted by elcanche at 11:03 PM
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December 09, 2005
I'm so excited! In one week I'll be New York-bound, and home for the holidays.
One of the signs that Guatemala is a wise and enlightened society is the importance placed on celebrating the holidays surrounded by family.
For example: Incidencia Democrática, where I work, is closing on December 15th and not resuming activities until January 9th.
I'll actually be returning to Guatemalaville on the 15th of January. Oh, which reminds me:
Quique, if you're reading this... I won't be back in the office until Monday the 16th.
So, um, ¡Feliz Navidad!
(Yeah, don't worry, I'll work from home that week. And yes, I'll bring you something nice from New York.)
You gotta love the Christmas spirit!!!
Speaking of which, I want to leave you with something upbeat and brilliant tonight. (Yes, just like all my other journal entries. Hehe.)
Here are two clever cartoons where bunnies reenact, in 30 seconds, my two favorite holiday movies: It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.
The animations are "filmed in Bun-O-Vision" by the talented folks at Angry Alien Productions. (Which, just for the sake of clarification, has nothing to do with undocumented workers getting screwed by Republicans.)
Happy weekend everyone!
Tags: Guatemala, Christmas, Vacation, Bunnies, Cartoons
Posted by elcanche at 11:56 PM
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December 08, 2005
"Tancredo"... what is that, Italian?
The Honerous Tom Tancredo
Republican, 6th District of Colorado
House of Representatives
08 December 2005
Dear Mr. Tancredo,
I just wanted to write and say "heil" ... I mean "hello!"
I was reading in today's Denver Post about a provision that you and other House Republicans will present in Congress next week that would deny citizenship to babies born in the United States to parents who are undocumented immigrants.
Bravo! As you so rightly griped, the fact that illegals are having babies right here in the good ol' USA "cheapens the whole concept of citizenship."
Oh sure, there are those "lefties" who will go on about how your proposal violates the our Constitution's 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 to grant citizenship to, and protect the civil liberties of, recently freed slaves. (And who said that was a good idea, right?)
They'll probably quote that part about "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States". Blah, blah, blah... am I right?
What they don't understand is how these wetbacks are abusing our system! You explained it so well: "People are coming here simply for the purpose of having a child here and then, because they're the anchor, they can have all the family come in on that child's ticket."
Man, what a scam! A baby born in America is automatically a U.S. citizen, and then this "anchor baby" can apply to bring other family members here from overseas. Whoa, and pretty soon our entire country is crawling with them, right?
I mean... what you didn't mention is that these babies can't actually make the application to bring over family members until they're reached the age of eighteen, but that just proves how tricky these people are, right? The parents plant their babies here... wait a mere eighteen years... and boom!... they're U.S. citizens. Sneaky bastards.
But hey, I was thinking, why stop at denying citizenship to babies born of immigrants? If we also keep the babies of poor people from becoming citizens, we could wipe out poverty in America. And if we withhold citizenship from babies of colored people we could completely do away with the races.. I mean, racism... in the United States.
I realize that there are people who say that Tom Tancredo is a redneck, racist, bigoted, skinhead, xenophobic, neo-nazi-wannabe. Like that's a bad thing, right? But I say: more (white) power to you!
After all someone has to take a stand and tell every pregnant Maria who hopes to have her baby in the promised land: "There is no room at the inn!"
Oh by the way... Merry Christmas to you and your family.
A Secret Admirer
PS: Don't worry about what your detractors say. You're about as racist as I am sarcastic.
Tags: Guatemala, Tancredo, citizenship, racism, immigration
Posted by elcanche at 06:26 PM
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December 07, 2005
La Quema del Diablo
Well, it's that time of year in Guatemala again!
The poinsettia bushes are in full bloom with their brilliant scarlet flowers and deep green leaves...
There's a chill in the early-morning air, and the stars twinkle bright at night...
Colored lights decorate the homes, and Christmas trees appear in the living rooms...
Holiday songs provide the soundtrack as the malls fill with shoppers...
And on every street corner, you find that pot-bellied guy in the red suit...
I'm referring, of course, to the devil.
I'm sorry if visions of sugar plums were just dashed from your heads, but every year.. in the midst of the Christmas season... Guatemalans give the devil his due.
Popular tradition holds that throughout the year, the devil hides in the corners and dark places of a house, weaseling his way into old papers and garbage and dust... thereby bringing bad luck to the home.
So every December 7th Guatemalans clean house and gather up discarded boxes, old newspapers... even dust from underneath the beds... and build a huge, highly-combustible mound in front of their homes.
An optional paper-mache Satan (a Prince of Darkness piñata, if you will) is added to the pile and, at exactly 6pm, the whole unholy heap is set on fire.
And that's how Guatemala celebrates "La Quema del Diablo", or the Burning of the Devil, by which Satan is swept from our homes and sent straight back to H-e-double-toothpicks.
It is a uniquely Guatemalan holiday!
Tonight, in the midst of the burning bonfires and flaming Satans, I watched young children running with golden sparklers and teenagers shooting whistling rockets into the smoky night sky. Older family members poked at the flames to keep the fires lit, and young couples sneaked quick kisses in the shadows (which is ok, I guess, now that the devil isn't around.)
Some environmentalists have demanded that the "Quema del Diablo", a tradition dating back to the 18th century, now be banned. And I suppose they have a point: the simultaneous burning of thousands of mounds of trash is probably not the healthiest of activities for a city. (Especially an already oxygen-challenged city such as Guate.)
But I don't know. Somehow the "Pointing of Bright Flashlights at the Devil", for example, just wouldn't have the same impact, now would it?
I, for one, absolutely loved the sense of community and camaraderie kindled by tonight's fire-bright festival.
More importantly: in a holiday season that is already overwhelmed by the crass and commercial, I think it's healthy to take a moment to symbolically eliminate the evil that dwells in our homes and in our hearts.
And it's never a bad idea to sweep under the bed, either.
Tags: Guatemala, Burning, Devil, Quema, Diablo
Posted by elcanche at 10:36 PM
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December 06, 2005
USA: No to Guatemala TPS
Well you can say this about the Bush administration: at least they're consistent in demonstrating their disregard for disaster victims and the poor.
Whether it's Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or Hurricane Stan in Guatemala, you can rest assured that some Bush administration official will eventually make a well-publicized tour of the disaster area, and then not offer aid or assistance.
Given the season, it reminds me of the Grinch story... only without the heart-growing transformation at the end.
Yesterday, three weeks before Christmas, Karen Hughes, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, toured the areas in the Guatemalan countryside that were devastated by Stan's floods and mudslides.
She must have witnessed the immense destruction of homes, crops, schools, hospitals, roads and bridges... losses estimated at over $1 billion dollars.
She must have read the reports about the Guatemala's "hunger time bomb": the fact that some 285,000 victims could be facing starvation conditions by this Christmas.
She must know that Guatemala's main source of income is not coffee, sugar, or tourism but rather the remittances that Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. send to their families back home.
And surely she must have realized that the humane and compassionate course of action for the Bush administration would be to grant Temporary Protected Status so that those immigrants could continue to provide the funds necessary for rebuilding homes, communities, and lives.
You would think, right?
Instead, Ms. Hughes immediately held a press conference to announce that the U.S government would not be offering TPS protection to Guatemalan immigrants.
And you're not going to believe why they're not going to help:
Hughes pointed out that the United States couldn't agree to the request, due to the fact that the government "had already spent so much money strengthening our borders" to keep illegal immigrants out.
Hughes anuncia que EEUU no concederá TPS a Guatemala, Terra.com
There is so much I'd like to say right now, yet most of it can be summed up in the following refrain:
You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, by Dr. Seuss
Finally, I'd like to share a simply eloquent editorial from the Palm Beach Post, outlining the many positive reasons that the Bush Administration should approve the TPS:
Since the nation's beginning, the United States has a history of providing safe haven to immigrants fleeing danger. Besides granting asylum to refugees who seek protection from political persecution, the government also has given shelter to hundreds of thousands of immigrants displaced by natural disasters.
In 1990, Congress passed a "temporary protected status" (TPS) statute that permits foreign nationals — documented or not — to stay in the country legally for specific periods of time to avoid dangerous situations in their homelands.
The Department of Homeland Security, through its Bureau of Citizenship and Immigrations Services, can grant TPS relief to protect immigrants from armed conflicts, natural disasters or other extraordinary, temporary conditions. For example, the U.S. gave temporary protection to Montserrat nationals after the volcano eruption in 1998 and to Honduras and Nicaragua the same year because of Hurricane Mitch. The Bush administration gave TPS to about 250,000 Salvadorans after two earthquakes rocked the country four years ago.
After Hurricane Stan devastated the country last month, Guatemala petitioned the Department of Homeland Security for TPS relief for citizens living in the United States. The Bush administration should grant the request.
Stan killed more than 1,000 Guatemalans and buried villages in mudslides. One of the hemisphere's poorest nations must rebuild and feed itself. The Bush administration sent food, medical supplies and military helicopters. But the best long-term aid is the temporary protected status that would allow Guatemalans to work here for the next 12 to 18 months without fear of deportation.
Guatemalans, most of them Mayans, are helping South Florida recover from Hurricane Wilma. They are fixing roofs, clearing debris and replanting fields. Most are illegal, but their contributions to the Florida economy are essential. The remittances they send back to Guatemala are also essential to rehabilitating their country.
About 20,000 Guatemalans living in South Florida have signed petitions urging the Bush administration to grant TPS. While the status does allow immigrants to work here legally, it carries no permanent benefits, does not permit travel and can be revoked for violations of law. Because it requires individual applications, TPS would enhance national security by creating a registry — with addresses and phone numbers — of the Guatemalans. It also could serve as a test of the guest worker plan the nation needs.
Support for TPS relief in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast has come from the American Jewish Committee, Catholic Charities, Corn Maya and the Organization of the Mayan People in Exile.
The Mayan population in South Florida took root as refugees came to escape the genocide of a 36-year civil war that the U.S. government helped to foster. The Bush administration can help repair hurricane damage in two countries by letting Guatemala's refugees work legally.
Palm Beach Post Editorial. November 20, 2005
Tags: Guatemala, TPS, Temporary Protected Status, Stan, Immigration
Posted by elcanche at 11:03 PM
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Evil on my iPod
Last night I walked back to my office after dinner (yeah, welcome to my life) while listening to Democracy Now! on my iPod.
During the news portion of the podcast, they played a brief recording of a press conference with Scott McClellan, official talking head of the White House.
Responding to a reporter's questions about the existence of U.S.-run clandestine detention centers around the world, Scotty said:
"When it comes to human rights, there is no greater leader than the United States of America, and we show that by holding people accountable when they break the law or they violate human rights... No one has done more when it comes to human rights than the United States of America."
And then he suddenly exploded in a sulfur-scented cloud of infernal fire, and his suffering soul was sucked into the eighth circle of hell.
(OK, OK... so that last part didn't really happen. But all that proves is that even Satan has his standards.)
Needless to say that upon reaching the office, I quickly rummaged through my desk in search of a Q-tip... I needed to scoop that toxic lie out of my ears, before the venom spread to my brain!
If you can stand it -- or if you just want to frighten your progressive friends -- here is a link to the entire transcript.
[Warning: this document should not be read by the faint or the good of heart as it may result in permanent cynicism or outright anarchy.]
Tags: Scott, McClellan, Human Rights, Leader, Bullshit
Posted by elcanche at 04:20 PM
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December 05, 2005
Rob's Podcast Guide
One of my new-found joys in life involves walking the streets of Guatemala City while listening to my iPod mini, a wonderful birthday gift I received from my even-more-wonderful family.
And no, I'm not "sucking up" just because Christmas is only 20 days away. My family really is wonderful. (Did you all get my Christmas list, by the way?)
Anyway... I've just recently begun exploring the fascinating world of podcasts, which are basically audio programs that you can download to your computer or iPod and listen to at your leisure.
Some of my favorites so far are:
Two Minute Photoshop Tricks with Kent Conklin
Martin Bailey Photography Podcast
NPR Sunday Puzzle with Will Shortz
NPR World Café
NPR Latino USA
[Here's a list of all the amazing NPR Podcasts]
The Penguin Podcast
The Radiant Vista
What can I say? I do a lot of walking.
I always find these podcasts to be entertaining, educational, and even inspirational. However, just moments ago, I was walking back to the office when I heard something on one of the podcasts that made me rip the headphones from my ears before they began to bleed from the utter wrongness of it all....
But that's for the next journal entry.
Tags: Guatemala, iPod, Podcasts, Photography, NPR
Posted by elcanche at 09:14 PM
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Guatemala Police Archives Update #2
Here's another article, from the BBC, about the mildewy mass of National Police files recently discovered in Guatemala.
The records, dating back over 100 years, contain evidence of human rights violations committed by Guatemala's notorious security forces, particularly during the 36-year armed conflict.
It is hoped that these photos, videos and documents will help guide Guatemala towards attaining two highly-elusive goals: truth and justice.
Guatemala secret files uncovered
By Simon Watts
Investigators in Guatemala have made a discovery that brings hope to tens of thousands of families still waiting for justice, nearly a decade after a brutal civil war.
They have found a huge archive of paperwork stored by the National Police - a force whose reputation for violence was so bad that it was disbanded as part of a peace settlement in 1996.
Officials say the archive contains 75 million pages of documents, as well as photographic and audio evidence.
Human rights groups want the discovery to kick-start government efforts to deal with the legacy of decades of state repression of left-wing guerrillas, which had a devastating effect on Guatemala's civilian population.
Of course, the discovery of the archives is just the first step on the road to obtaining justice for the victims....
Daniel Wilkinson, of the New-York based group Human Rights Watch, said the National Police papers would help complete the picture of how state repression worked.
"Guatemala now has documents that go into great detail about individual victims, about the operations that led to peoples' deaths," Mr Wilkinson said.
"So a lot of the holes in the history will be filled in."
Human Rights Watch says access to the documents will help relatives still waiting to bury their dead or to learn how loved ones died.
"There are tens of thousands of families in Guatemala living with the ongoing trauma of having relatives killed or disappeared," Mr Wilkinson said. "There may be information that's critical for those particular families to deal with their loss and suffering".
The most difficult challenge will be to use this new evidence for criminal prosecutions. Guatemala has a poor record of convicting human rights abusers because of a lack of political will and because the judicial system is easily pressured.
Read the entire article
Guatemala Police Archives Post
Guatemala Police Archives Update
Human Rights Watch
Tags: Guatemala, Police, Archives, Violence, Justice
Posted by elcanche at 03:59 PM
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December 03, 2005
Best laid plans
I appreciate the fact that we deal with some heavy issues on this website. And the past week has been especially somber with articles about gold mining, AIDS, and world poverty. (Yikes.)
So today I'd like to provide a link to something which has absolutely nothing to do with Guatemala, greed, sickness, or suffering.
It does, however, have to do with destruction.... kinda.
From the fantastic Boing-Boing website comes the following bit of hilarity:
Botched 200'-tall building demolition video
The demolition of a 200 foot building in Sioux Falls, SD didn't go so well today. Demolition experts blasted the bottom of the tower expecting it to tip over. Instead, the building sank into it's basement.
Here's the link to the video. (Make sure you have the audio turned up!)
Have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget to laugh.
Tags: Guatemala, Demolition, Building, Funny
Posted by elcanche at 12:49 PM
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December 02, 2005
The gluttony and greed of Glamis Gold
Glamis Gold, the mining company currently raping the Guatemalan countryside, has just published a press release.
It seems that the Glamis-owned Marlin Mine, in the breathtakingly-beautiful Department of San Marcos, has begun operations.... or "commenced commercial production", as they put it.
When I read their brief PR piece a holy shiver shot down my spine! It opened my eyes to this company's capacity for destruction and demonstrated the depths of my own ignorance, as well.
I actually had to read the following statement a few times before its meaning "sank in":
The Marlin mill has demonstrated designed throughput capacity of 220 tonnes per hour.
That's 220 tons of Guatemalan land being churned through the Mine's machinery... per hour! And for what?
Surface mining activities are on plan, with grades of over six grams per tonne being realized from near-surface ore zones.
Glamis boasts that these strip-mining... isn't "surface mining" such a pretty phrase?... these strip-mining operations are yielding six grams (.2 ounces... yes, that's "point two" ounces) per ton!
Let's review, shall we?
One ton of indigenous land destroyed by Glamis yields one-fifth of an ounce of gold.
And Glamis is chewing through 220 tons per hour.
And the mine must run 24 hours a day because, according to the Glamis website, "Mill capacity has been expanded to 5,000 tonnes per day."
If you're not physically ill by this point, you've got a stronger stomach than I have.
The PR (positively repulsive) piece goes on to say that:
Underground operations are proceeding on three development levels in preparation for significant contributions from underground production by mid-2006.
Which translated means: the land-rape will soon be vertical as well as horizontal.
Could Glamis Gold really be bragging to their investors about their capability to inflict such horrific destruction for a few measly ounces of gold? Or had I misunderstood completely?
The humanitarian organization Oxfam America only confirmed these tragic numbers on their website, and went even further yet:
Gold mining is one of the most destructive activities in the world. The production of one gold ring generates 20 tons of waste. Toxic chemicals, such as cyanide and mercury, can pollute drinking water supplies, contaminate farmland, and harm the health of workers and communities.
To most people, gold is a symbol of love and commitment. But for people who live near gold mines, it is also a symbol of poverty, destruction, and despair.
Between 1995 and 2015, approximately half of the gold produced worldwide has or will come from indigenous peoples’ lands.
Eighty percent of all gold is used to make jewelry.
No Dirty Gold, Oxfam America
And the New York Times, in a brilliant investigative series entitled "Behind Gold's Glitter", adds:
Consider a ring. For that one ounce of gold, miners dig up and haul away 30 tons of rock and sprinkle it with diluted cyanide, which separates the gold from the rock. Before they are through, miners at some of the largest mines move a half million tons of earth a day, pile it in mounds that can rival the Great Pyramids, and drizzle the ore with the poisonous solution for years.
Some metal mines, including gold mines, have become the near-equivalent of nuclear waste dumps that must be tended in perpetuity.
70% of gold is now mined in developing countries like Guatemala and Ghana.
Environmental groups say companies are mining in ways that would never be tolerated in wealthier nations, such as dumping tons of waste into rivers, bays and oceans. People who live closest to the mines say they see too few of mining's benefits and bear too much of its burden.
Behind Gold's Glitter, NY Times
They say that Guatemala's forested mountains and low-laying rainforests are the "second lung" of the Americas supplying, along with the Amazon jungle, oxygen to the continent.
In that case one could easily conclude that Glamis Gold is a nothing more than malignant cancer growing in Guatemala.
Glamis Gold commenced commercial production at Marlin Mine, Guatemala
No Dirty Gold Campaign
No Más Oro Sucio (español)
Oxfam America - No Dirty Gold Campaign
NY Times - Behind Gold's Glitter: Torn Lands and Pointed Questions
Global Exchange - Guatemala: indigenous resistance to gold mine gains momentum
Internal watchdogs attack World Bank/IFC on Guatemala mine
Madre Selva (español)
Mining Watch Canada
Global Actors, Mining and Community-Based Resistance in Honduras and Guatemala
Two Killed So Far Protesting Glamis Gold in Guatemala
Tags: Guatemala, Glamis, Gold, Mines, Mining
Posted by elcanche at 08:10 PM
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December 01, 2005
World AIDS Day
Today is World Aids Day, a moment to reflect on this deadly, and growing, world-wide epidemic.
According to an article published just moments ago, UNICEF estimates that 48,000 children in Guatemala have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS.
Marco Tulio Sosa, Minister of Public Health, announced that in next year's budget there will be a 100% increase, to $2.6 million, of the funds allocated to combat and prevent the disease. He admitted, though, that "given Guatemala's epidemiological characteristics, AIDS isn't a priority."
1% of the Guatemalan population is estimated to be HIV positive, although the infection rates are much higher in the cities and high-traffic areas (such as the border regions.)
48.000 niños huérfanos por SIDA en Guatemala, Univision
Here's an interesting article from about the impact of AIDS on the rest of the world:
Global battle against Aids
The Aids epidemic is still outstripping global efforts to contain it despite some progress, according to the UN.
We take a look, on World Aids Day, at the current stage of the devastating epidemic around the world:
There are now 40.3 million children and adults living with HIV and 3.1 million have died of Aids this year. At least 570,000 of them were children.
Yet at present only one in five people has access to basic prevention services worldwide, and only one in 10 living with HIV have been tested and know they are infected.
Both Unicef and the World Health Organization are marking today's World Aids Day by calling for better access to drugs for pregnant women.
The global picture
* Sub-Saharan Africa remains hardest hit. The region has just over 10 percent of the world's population, but more than 60 percent of its people have HIV.
* An estimated 2.4million people died of HIV-related illnesses in 2005 in Sub-Saharan Africa, while a further 3.2 million became infected with HIV.
* South Africa's epidemic, one of the largest in the world, shows no sign of relenting.
* In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of people living with HIV increased by one quarter to 1.6 million since 2003. The number of aids deaths almost doubled to 62,000 in the same period.
* By the end of 2004, about 300,000 HIV cases had been officially registered in the Russian Federation since the beginning of records but the actual number is much higher. An estimated 860,000 people were living with HIV in the Russian Federation at the end of 2003.
* In Asia, national HIV infection levels are low compared with Africa. Latest estimates show some 8.3 million people were living with HIV in 2005, including the 1.1million who were newly infected. Aids claimed some 520,000 lives in 2005.
* The number of people living with HIV in Latin America has risen to an estimated 1.8 million. In 2005, some 66,000 people died of Aids, and 200,000 were newly infected.
* The number of people living with HIV in North America, Western and Central Europe rose to 1.9 million in 2005, with about 65,000 newly infected in 2005. Wide availability of antiretroviral therapy has helped keep Aids deaths comparatively low, at about 30,000.
Aids has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.
Global battle against Aids, The Daily Mail (UK)
Tags: Guatemala, World, AIDS, Day, UNICEF
Posted by elcanche at 05:19 PM
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