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August 27, 2007

Guatemala: Un ano Kaftiano

Guatemala

Aquí un análisis interesante sobre el El Tratado de Libre Comercio para Centroamérica (CAFTA), escrito por Umberto Mazzei, un contribuyente frecuente a la revista Este País. Recibí este artículo de NISGUA, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.

Guatemala: Un ano Kaftiano

Por Umberto Mazzei

CAFTA entro en vigor hace un ano y desde entonces han pasado cosas lamentables. Solo para dar algunos ejemplos: la desfachatez de desviar 195 millones de quetzales (US$25 millones) de los fondos del Ministerio de Educacion, a la Organizacion de la Aviacion Civil Internacional para la ampliacion del Aeropuerto-lo que dice todo sobre la prioridad del transporte de mercancia sobre escuelas-y el caso escandaloso de tres diputados salvadorenos y su chofer asesinados con sana por funcionarios de la policia guatemalteca, con el Jefe de la Unidad contra el Crimen Organizado de Investigaciones a la cabeza.

El ambiente politico se encuentra en franco deterioro. Mucha tinta puede gastarse senalando escandalos del gobierno, pero analizamos los del area de la economia internacional, que es nuestro oficio. Al ano de instrumentar el CAFTA suena lejano el pronostico del Embajador de Estados Unidos en Guatemala, James Dirham: "Guatemala sera vista como una nacion mas atractiva para atraer inversiones a partir del 1 de julio".

Las inversiones extranjeras del CAFTA no vienen.

Pronacom (Programa Nacional de Competitividad) puede contarnos-sin precisar-que Guatemala recibio US$839.5 millones de inversion foranea y se crearon 17 mil empleos. Tal vez confunden las nuevas deudas con inversion. Sus cifras no coinciden con las del Banco de Guatemala, ni de las asociaciones de sector privado. Tampoco con el testimonio diario de liquidacion industrial y desempleo.

Lo que trajo CAFTA son demandas ante tribunales extraterritoriales. Algunos son de extranjeros que estaban aqui antes del CAFTA. El Articulo 10.16, 1 b) del CAFTA retrotrae sus privilegios a las inversiones extranjeras hechas antes de su aplicacion; inclusive cuando sea en empresas nacionales establecidas.

Es el caso de Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) contra Guatemala en nombre de Ferrovias de Guatemala. En 1997 la RDC obtuvo 50 anos de concesion con el compromiso de restaurar el funcionamiento. Ahora demanda por US$65 millones-15 millones por supuesta inversion hecha, 50 millones por un lucro a futuro, pero sin que en 10 anos haya hecho funcionar los trenes. La RDC, modesta en Estados Unidos, opera en otros paises: Argentina, Estonia, Peru, Malawi y Mozambique y tiene antecedentes de acciones de ese tipo. En Estonia ya obligo a un arreglo.

La causa de la demanda es expropiacion indirecta, porque el Presidente Berger, justo al mes de CAFTA, declaro "lesivo" a la nacion el uso de 12 viejas locomotoras de Fegua. Es extrana la coincidencia-y oportuna para una RDC, que perdia dinero-que el Presidente Berger se haya preocupado por unas locomotoras viejas justo al entrar en vigor el CAFTA, pero no mientras se usaron antes del CAFTA.

En su primer aniversario el CAFTA no tiene parecido con las promesas de sus promotores: AGEXPRONT, AM-Cham, VESTEX, FEDEFARMA, Camagro, CIG, entre los mas notorios. Ha sucedido todo lo contrario, y bajo el CAFTA Guatemala tuvo un dramatico reves, presentando el primer deficit en su balanza comercial de la decada. Esto es precisamente lo que habian advertido quienes no fueron consultados-los grupos populares que la policia agredio a balazos por protestar y a quienes los diarios les dieron poco espacio para opinar.

Lea el artículo completo

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Posted by elcanche at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

Guatemala's Kafta-esque Year

Guatemala

Here's an interesting analysis of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) written by Umberto Mazzei, a frequent contributer to Este País magazine. I received the article from NISGUA, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.

Guatemala's Kafta-esque Year

By Umberto Mazzei
America's Program, Center for International Policy

Translated by: Tony Phillips

CAFTA went into effect a year ago in Guatemala and a number of regrettable things have happened since. To mention a few examples: 195 million Guatemalan Quetzals (equivalent to US$25 million) have been diverted from Ministry of Education funds to the civil aviation authority to extend an airport, which speaks volumes about the priority of transporting goods over educating children. Then there was the case of the vicious assassination of three El Salvadoran Congressmen and their driver by members of the Guatemalan police force, led by the chief of the Organized Crime Unit.

The political climate is deteriorating rapidly. It would be easy to go on about government scandals, but the focus of this article is international economics. One year after the implementation of CAFTA, the reality seems totally at odds with the prediction made by U.S. Ambassador, James Derham: "Guatemala will be seen as a more attractive nation for investors after July 1 [2006]."

Where's the Investment?

Signing CAFTA did not bring about those foreign investments. PRONACOM, the Guatemalan Program for National Competition, reports, without detailing its sources, that Guatemala received US$839.5 million in foreign investment, creating 17,000 jobs.

Could it be that they are confusing new debt with investment? Their figures do not concur with those of the Bank of Guatemala, nor do they concur with figures from the private sector. They contradict the daily news reports of industries going bankrupt and unemployment.

One thing that has resulted from CAFTA is legal demands from foreign tribunals. Some of these are from foreigners who were in the country before CAFTA was even signed. CAFTA Article 10.16, 1b retroactively protects foreign investments made before it came into force, even when made in established national companies.

Consider the case of Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) against Guatemala in the name of "Ferrovarias de Guatemala" (FEGUA). In 1997 RDC was granted a 50-year concession with the provision that they restore railroads to operation. The company is now demanding US$65 million-US$15 million that it supposedly already invested and $50 million in future profits. It filed this claim having failed in over a decade to restore the railroad to full operation.

The basis of the claim is indirect expropriation. Guatemalan President Berger declared that the use of 12 of the old FEGUA locomotives was damaging the environment. President Berger made this demand the month that CAFTA was signed.

It is a strange coincidence that President Berger became concerned about the old locomotives just as CAFTA came into force, considering his lack of concern before CAFTA. The decision was a stroke of luck for the RDC, which was suffering financial losses. RDC operates on a small scale in the United States. It also operates in Argentina, Estonia, Peru, Malawi, and Mozambique. It has a history of such cases. In Estonia, RDC was forced to withdraw its complaint in a settlement.

Thanks to CAFTA-the Decade's First Deficit

On the first anniversary of CAFTA, the reality does not resemble what was promised by its promoters: AGEXPRONT, the American Chamber of Commerce, VESTEX, FEDEFARMA, Camagro, and CIG, to name the most vocal among them. Under CAFTA, Guatemala's fortunes have demonstrated an abrupt reversal, with its first trade deficit in a decade. This is exactly what was predicted by the groups who were not consulted at the time-the citizens' organizations that were shot at by police and blackballed by the press where newspapers gave them precious few column inches to voice their opinions.

Read the entire article.

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Posted by elcanche at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)

August 24, 2007

Hambruna en Zacapa

Incidencia Democratica - Noticias de Guatemala.gif Hambruna en Zacapa. Unas 5 mil personas, de 53 comunidades del municipio de La Unión, están en crisis alimentaria y por lo menos 10 niños serán trasladados hoy a un centro de recuperación porque sufren desnutrición severa. En los hogares simplemente no hay nada que comer. Lorenza Ramírez, de 20 años, contó que ella y sus 3 hijos comen un guineo al día, y Santos Gutiérrez aseguró que a su hijo de 2 años sólo le da agua tibia, porque no tiene más que darle. La grave situación fue planteada por la municipalidad local pero hasta ayer sólo una iglesia y una fundación han llevado ayuda. (Alberto Ramírez. PL: 02)

Para más noticias, analysis, editoriales y columnistas de Guatemala y el mundo entero, lea el Reporte Diario de Incidencia Democratica!

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Posted by elcanche at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

August 23, 2007

Das Coke

Guatemala

After close to 20 years in Guatemala, I sometimes get to the point where I feel like I've heard it all before. But this story, which I would have entitled "20,000 Kilos Under the Sea", was news to me. And as much as I despise the drug trade, I couldn't help but think to myself "Well sure, a sub! That actually makes a lot of sense!"

Two questions immediately came to mind: How scary would a coked-up shark be? And how soon before Hollywood makes a movie about about one?

Drug-running submarine found off Guatemalan coast

Reuters
SignOnSanDiego.com

Guatemala City – A homemade submarine packed with bales of cocaine worth at least $350 million was discovered off the coast of Guatemala, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

“It was a semi-submersible vessel that floated just underneath the surface of the water,” said Kevin Ness, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard in Alameda, California.

The craft was about 50 feet long and “painted blue to hide it under water,” he told Reuters.

Ness said the drug traffickers sank the vessel before U.S. Coast Guard officials could get there. Officials detained four men found floating in the water along with 11 bales of cocaine weighing around 1,210 pounds.

“The rest is now at the bottom of the sea,” said Ness.

Read the entire article

Lea el artículo completo en español.

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Posted by elcanche at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)

August 22, 2007

UNE y PP se alejan del resto

Incidencia Democratica - Noticias de Guatemala.gif La Encuesta: UNE y PP se alejan del resto. En la Encuesta 6 de Vox Latina para Prensa Libre Álvaro Colom, de la UNE, y Otto Pérez Molina, del PP, se mantienen al frente con 22% y 17.50% respectivamente. El tercero es Alejandro Giammattei, con 7.67% de intención de voto. La encuesta, con papeleta simulada, muestra un 28.83% de indecisos. Todo indica que habrá segunda vuelta, en la que la correlación de fuerzas ronda el 50% para cada candidato, lo que podría ser un empate técnico. Colom es favorito entre las mujeres 23.3%, indígenas 26.3%, y jóvenes 24.6% en comparación con los ladinos 18.5%. Pérez Molina tiene porcentajes más altos que Colom en el área urbana, comparado con mediciones anteriores. La muestra fue recogida entre el 7 y el 15 de agosto, entre 1200 empadronados, con 46% en zonas urbanas y el 54% en rurales. (Suplemento especial de PL)

Para más noticias, analysis, editoriales y columnistas de Guatemala y el mundo entero, lea el Reporte Diario de Incidencia Democratica!

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Posted by elcanche at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2007

Bush Cares

etceteraOne more Hurricane Dean post... because I just can't help myself.

There's an AP story being picked up by newspapers around the world, entitled "Bush Concerned About Hurricane Victims".

Wow. I can't BEGIN to imagine the "relief" that those affected by Hurricane Katrina must be feeling upon learning that Bush now cares about hurricane victims (albeit those in Mexico.)

Oh, the irony, the irony.

Bush Concerned About Hurricane Victims

By Ben Feller
Associated Press Writer

Montebello, Quebec (AP) - President Bush, at a North American summit on Tuesday, offered U.S. assistance and expressed his concern for the citizens of Mexico and elsewhere whose lives were effected by Hurricane Dean.

"We stand ready to help,'' said Bush, standing alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "The American people care a lot about the human condition in our neighborhood and when we see human suffering we want to do what we can."

Read the entire article

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Posted by elcanche at 05:35 PM | Comments (9)

Hurricane Dean update 2

Guatemala

Good news about Hurricane Dean... It appears that the hurricane caused no deaths in Mexico, and that the damage was far less catastrophic than had originally been predicted. Dean has since weakened to a Category 1 storm, as it continues across the Bay of Campeche toward the central coast of Mexico. Here in Guatemala City the weather has been exceptionally cool, breezy and gray... with very little rain. Let's hope that the worst has passed!

Hurricane Dean makes landfall, weakens

posted by: Jeffrey Wolf
reported by: Kyle Clark

Tulum, Mexico (AP) - Hurricane Dean crashed into the Caribbean coast of Mexico on Tuesday as a roaring Category 5 hurricane, the most intense Atlantic storm to make landfall in two decades.

It lashed ancient Mayan ruins and headed for the modern oil installations of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The eye of the storm made landfall near Majahual, a port popular with cruise liners and about 40 miles east-northeast of Chetumal and the Belize border, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Dean's path was a stroke of luck for Mexico: It made landfall in a sparsely populated coastline that had already been evacuated, skirting most of the major tourist resorts. It weakened within hours to a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, and the hurricane center predicted more weakening as it crosses the Yucatan.

With the storm still screaming, there were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries or major damage, Quintana Roo Gov. Felix Gonzalez told Mexico's Televisa network, though officials had not been able to survey the area.

In Tulum, a beach town north of Dean's strike famed for its Mayan ruins, the storm bent palm trees and rattled tin roofing. Electricity was out, and residents huddled in their homes as the wind moaned through the darkened streets.

Read the entire article

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Posted by elcanche at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

Satellite image of Hurricane Dean

Here's a satellite image of Hurricane Dean, provided by Weather Underground. Click on the photo to see the most recent image.

Hurricane Dean

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Posted by elcanche at 02:03 AM | Comments (5)

August 20, 2007

Hurricane Dean update

Here is a summary of the Hurricane DEAN Public Advisory, from the National Hurricane Center:

EYE OF POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE DEAN JUST A FEW HOURS FROM LANDFALL ALONG THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA...

AT 11 PM EDT...0300 UTC... THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO HAS EXTENDED THE HURRICANE WARNING WESTWARD FROM CIUDAD DE CARMEN TO CHILITEPEC. A HURRICANE WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR THE ENTIRE COASTLINE OF BELIZE... ALONG THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA OF MEXICO FROM THE BELIZE/MEXICO BORDER NORTHWARD TO CANCUN... AND ALONG THE WEST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA FROM SOUTH OF PROGRESSO SOUTHWARD TO CHILITEPEC.

AT 1100 PM EDT...0300Z... THE CENTER OF HURRICANE DEAN WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 18.4 NORTH... LONGITUDE 86.0 WEST OR ABOUT 150 MILES... 245 KM...EAST OF CHETUMAL MEXICO AND ABOUT 310 MILES...500 KM... EAST-SOUTHEAST OF CAMPECHE MEXICO.

DEAN IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 20 MPH...32 KM/HR... AND THIS MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TONIGHT AND TUESDAY. ON THE FORECAST TRACK... THE EYE OF DEAN WILL MAKE LANDFALL ALONG THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA VERY EARLY TUESDAY MORNING. DEAN WILL CROSS THE YUCATAN PENINSULA DURING THE DAY ON TUESDAY AND LIKELY REACH THE BAY OF CAMPECHE TUESDAY NIGHT.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 160 MPH...260 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. DEAN IS A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE SCALE. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS EXPECTED PRIOR TO LANDFALL ON THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. ALTHOUGH SOME WEAKENING IS FORECAST AS DEAN CROSSES THE YUCATAN PENINSULA... DEAN IS EXPECTED TO MAINTAIN HURRICANE STRENGTH THROUGHOUT THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 60 MILES...95 KM...FROM THE CENTER... AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 175 MILES...280 KM.

DEAN IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE STORM TOTAL RAINFALL OF 5 TO 10 INCHES OVER THE ISTHMUS OF TEHUANTEPEC AND YUCATAN PENINSULA OF MEXICO... BELIZE... GUATEMALA... AND NORTHERN HONDURAS... WITH MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF UP TO 20 INCHES. THESE RAINS COULD CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.

STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 12 TO 18 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS IS POSSIBLE NEAR AND TO THE NORTH OF WHERE DEAN MAKES LANDFALL ALONG THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA.

For more information, visit the National Hurricane Center's website.

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Posted by elcanche at 11:40 PM | Comments (1)

U.S. Embassy Advisory: Hurricane Dean

According to a recent AP article "Dean Gains As Winds Slam Mexico, Belize" written by
Mark Stevenson:

Hurricane Dean strengthened into a monstrous Category 5 storm Monday night as its outter bands of wind and rain slammed the coasts of Mexico and Belize. Thousands of tourists fled the beaches of the Mayan Riviera as it roared toward the ancient ruins and modern oil installations of the Yucatan Peninsula. Dean, which has killed at least 12 people across the Caribbean, quickly picked up strength after brushing Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Although Dean's path leads it just to the north of Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala sent out the following notice:

United States Embassy

Dear American Citizen:

The following is a Public Announcement concerning Hurricane Dean.  According to the National Hurricane Center, Dean is expected to produce storm total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, Guatemala, and Northern Honduras, with maximum amounts of up to 20 inches.  These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.  Please contact the American Citizen Services section via e-mail (amcitsguatemala@state.gov), fax (2326-4655), or telephone (2326-4405) if you have any questions. 

Estimado Ciudadano Norteamericano:

El siguiente es un Anuncio Público en relación con Huracán Dean.  De acuerdo al Centro Nacional de Huracanes, se espera que el Huracán Dean produzca una tormenta que provocará un total de 5 a 10 pulgadas de lluvia sobre la Península de Yucatán, Belice, Guatemala y el norte de Honduras, con cantidades máximas de hasta 20 pulgadas.  Estas lluvias podrían causar inundaciones repentinas, peligrosas para las personas y derrumbes.  Por favor comuníquese con la Sección de Servicios a Ciudadanos Americanos vía correo electrónico a (amcitsguatemala@state.gov) fax (2326-4655) ó número telefónico (2326-4405) si tiene alguna pregunta o si necesita mayor información en español. 

For more information, visit the National Hurricane Center's website.

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Posted by elcanche at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2007

News: Pérez Molina Closer to Colom

Guatemala

With only three weeks until the elections, the outcome of the Guatemalan presidential race is looking less and less like a "sure thing". Álvaro Colom, who just a short while ago spoke of hoping to win the election in the first round, is facing a growing threat from the #2 man, General Otto Pérez Molina. A very tight run-off in November seems to be in the cards for Guatemala.

Pérez Molina Closer to Colom in Guatemala

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Two candidates appear headed for the second round in Guatemala’s presidential race, according to a poll by Demoscopía published in Siglo XXI. 41.1 per cent of respondents would vote for Álvaro Colom of the left-leaning National Union of Hope (UNE) in this year’s ballot, down 2.5 points since July.

Otto Pérez Molina of the right-wing Patriot Party (PP) is second with 30 per cent—up 6.2 points in a month—followed by Alejandro Giammattei of the Grand National Alliance (GANA) with 9.5 per cent, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú of Encounter for Guatemala (EPG) with five per cent, Luis Rabbé of the Republican Guatemalan Front (FRG) with 4.8 per cent, and Eduardo Suger of Centre for Social Action (CAS) with 4.3 per cent.

The presidential election is scheduled for Sept. 9. If no candidate garners more than 50 per cent of all cast ballots, a run-off would take place on Nov. 4. In a prospective second round scenario, Colom is first with 41.4 per cent, followed by Pérez Molina with 39.3 per cent.

Read the entire article

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Posted by elcanche at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2007

News: Guatemala's violent past uncovered

Guatemala

Here's an in-depth update on the secret police archives that were discovered two years ago, and are being slowly and studiously examined by a team of human rights experts.

Page by dusty page, Guatemala's violent past is uncovered

By Paul Jeffrey
8/16/2007
Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)

GUATEMALA CITY (CNS) - Church leaders say 80 million pages of secret police records being reviewed by the government promise Guatemalans a rare chance to rewrite the history of their violent land.

The moldy records were found by accident in 2005 in an abandoned section of a police compound in Guatemala City. Some of the records date back more than a century, their faded pages describing the daily bureaucracy of repression employed for decades by Guatemala's government.

Of most interest to investigators are records from 1975 to 1985, the most violent period of Guatemala's civil war, during which 160,000 people were killed and 40,000 disappeared.

Although workers from the government's human rights prosecutor have so far examined only about 5 million pages of the records, many are confident that what they are finding will shake up this traumatized land.

"During the conflict there was a sense of fear, for you never knew who was behind things," said Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos, president of the Guatemalan bishops' conference. "The uncovering of the archives marks that we're entering a different era. There is an opportunity to know who was involved in this, to rewrite the history of violence in our country and identify who the killers were."

Guatemala's civil war ended in 1996, and the final report of a U.N.-supervised truth commission includes 165 pages of letters that the commission wrote to the president and other government officials demanding access to police and military records. The commission always received the reply that such records did not exist.

After the secret records in Guatemala City were discovered, investigators from the human rights prosecutor's office seized 34 other sets of records in provincial and neighborhood police offices.

No files were uncovered from the military, perhaps the most brutal armed force in the hemisphere during the years of the civil war. Human rights activists had long hoped to discover the army's archives, which would shed light on the government's "scorched-earth" campaigns during the civil war.

Yet the police archives do include records from the Joint Operations Center, an office that coordinated the activities of all the country's security services. An initial analysis of 3,000 pages selected at random showed that 15 percent of the documents shed light on human rights abuses.

A preliminary report on the project, due out late this year, will include concrete examples of police records that show when and where certain individuals were arrested and never heard from again, although the police always denied having detained them. Fingerprint records and photographs of tortured bodies interred in urban cemeteries are being matched to lists of the disappeared prepared by organizations of their family members.

Read the entire article

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Posted by elcanche at 10:32 PM | Comments (3)

Guatemala - Noticias

Incidencia Democratica - Noticias de Guatemala.gif TSE tiene baja ejecución de presupuesto. Faltan 24 días para las elecciones y el Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) registra un gasto de Q120 millones, lo que equivale a 24.42% de su presupuesto. Ángel Alfredo Figueroa, magistrado del TSE, afirmó que aún faltan algunas compras, y que la ejecución presupuestaria sigue el cronograma establecido. Están pendiente de gastar Q2 millones en reparto de telegramas, más recursos a las 332 juntas electorales municipales, contratación de 2 mil personas, servicio telefónico y se prevé adquirir un sistema de seguridad para proteger la transmisión de resultados. A eso hay que agregar los Q130 millones que, se calcula, costará la segunda vuelta. (Wendy Ruano. PL: 08)

Para más noticias, analysis, editoriales y columnistas de Guatemala y el mundo entero, lea el Reporte Diario de Incidencia Democratica!

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Posted by elcanche at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2007

Noticias: Acabar con la violencia en Guatemala

Guatemala

Buenas noticias para un país donde el crímen organizado se ha infiltrado en cada organismo del estado, hasta tal punto que el mismo gobierno reconoce que necesita apoyo en combatir la influencia criminal.

Acabar con la violencia en Guatemala es objetivo de nuevo organismo internacional

Comisión “pionera” apoya derechos humanos en Guatemala

Por Eric Green
Redactor del Servicio Noticioso desde Washington

Washington – La comunidad mundial ha celebrado la creación de una nueva comisión internacional que ayudará a las autoridades de Guatemala a investigar y procesar a los grupos ilegales que cometen actos de violencia en ese país centroamericano.

La labor de la nueva comisión para intentar frenar la violencia en Guatemala se considera un acto que refuerza la situación de derechos humanos y el imperio de la ley en ese país.

El 1 de agosto el Congreso de Guatemala aprobó la creación del organismo denominado Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG).

James Derham, embajador de Estados Unidos en Guatemala dijo el 10 de agosto al Servicio Noticioso desde Washington que Estados Unidos, junto con otros donantes internacionales, planea contribuir con fondos para la CICIG y está en proceso de encontrar fuentes financieras para ayudar a que la comisión inicie sus operaciones lo antes posible.

Derham comentó que, según el mandato inicial de dos años, la comisión dirigida por la ONU investigará delitos cometidos por “las estructuras criminales y las organizaciones de seguridad clandestinas que amenazan los derechos civiles y políticos y que socavan el estado de derecho en Guatemala”. Derham dijo además que la comisión ayudará a las instituciones del gobierno guatemalteco a procesar a “los grupos clandestinos; promover reformas judiciales y policiales, y aplicar procesos de selección institucionales”.

La CICIG será un organismo independiente con sede en la Ciudad de Guatemala, aunque su comisionado será nombrado por el secretario general de la ONU Ban Ki-Moon y tendrá que informar periódicamente a Ban..

Lea el artículo completo

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Posted by elcanche at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

News: Stopping the Violence in Guatemala

Guatemala

Good news in a country where organized crime has so completely infiltrated every branch of the government, that the State itself has admitted that it needs help in combating the criminal influence.

Stopping Violence in Guatemala Aim of New International Body

“Groundbreaking” commission supports Guatemalan human rights

By Eric Green
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington -- The global community is hailing the creation of a new international commission that will aid Guatemalan authorities in investigating and prosecuting illicit groups engaged in violence in the Central American nation.

The new commission’s work in curtailing violence in Guatemala is seen as boosting that nation’s human rights condition and the rule of law.

The Guatemalan Congress on August 1 approved creation of the body, called the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

James Derham, U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, told USINFO August 10 that the United States, along with other international donors, plans to contribute funds for CICIG and is in the process of identifying funding sources to help get the commission operating as soon as possible.

Derham said that under an initial two-year mandate, the U.N.-led commission will investigate crimes committed by “criminal structures and clandestine security organizations that threaten civil and political rights and undermine the rule of law in Guatemala.” Derham added that the commission will assist Guatemalan government institutions in prosecuting the “clandestine groups, promoting justice and police reforms, and implementing institutional vetting [screening] processes.”

CICIG will be an independent body with headquarters in Guatemala City, although its commissioner will be appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The commissioner will report periodically to Ban.

Read the entire article

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Posted by elcanche at 10:37 PM | Comments (2)

August 14, 2007

Deslaves matan a 9

Incidencia Democratica - Noticias de Guatemala.gif Deslaves matan a 9. Las lluvias que desde el sábado azotan al norte del país, especialmente a Alta Verapaz, han dejado 9 muertos por los deslaves. Además las lluvias desbordaron los ríos Cahabón, Cahaboncito y Chiú. El nivel del agua subió tanto que en el centro de Cobán varias lanchas sirvieron para trasladar a personas y enseres. El gobernador José Adrián López indica que se abrieron 7 albergues en la cabecera departamental, utilizando iglesias, escuelas y el polideportivo. La Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres decretó alerta institucional en el norte del país, y prevé que las lluvias continuarán hasta mañana. Los aguaceros también causaron daños en el municipio de Tactic, en donde no menos de 150 viviendas quedaron anegadas. (Maco Avendaño. Renaldo Yash. SV: 10)

Para más noticias, analysis, editoriales y columnistas de Guatemala y el mundo entero, lea el Reporte Diario de Incidencia Democratica!

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Posted by elcanche at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2007

Article: Bleak Prospects

Bleak Prospects For A Democratic Renaissance in Guatemala

By Martha Lauer
Council on Hemispheric Affairs - COHA
August 6th, 2007

The September 9, 2007 Guatemalan presidential elections will experience, for the first time, an indigenous woman attempting to capture her country's highest office: Rigoberta Menchú is challenging candidates Alvaro Colom, General Otto Pérez Molina and Alejandro Giammattei. If Menchú wins the ballot, it could lead to major changes in Guatemala, such as national recognition and overflowing pride in the indigenous heritage. But with only one month until the September 9 ballot, Menchú's chances are fast slipping away as her popularity continues to sharply decline, stalling now in single digit percentages.

It was thought that her international fame resulting from winning the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize--bestowed for her nonviolent work on behalf of oppressed native people--would have somehow boosted her domestic credibility, but instead it might have served to limit her appeal. Aside from her noteworthy accomplishments, her platform lacks substance and has suffered when contrasted against the favored center-left candidate, Alvaro Colom. With a little time left to gain much-needed support, Menchú must either aggressively come out fighting or give up the dream of being able to carry the distinction of being Guatemala's first indigenous and female president.

Read the entire article

Posted by elcanche at 01:17 PM | Comments (2)

August 04, 2007

NY Times Article

Drug Gangs Use Violence to Sway Guatemala Vote

By Marc Lacey
Published: N.Y. Times, August 4, 2007

Guatemala City — It is election time in Guatemala and that means rallies and banners — and body bags.

In the campaigning leading up to elections on Sept. 9, the authorities have reported 61 violent attacks on candidates and political activists. The death toll is 26, including seven national congressmen and numerous other office seekers.

The flurry of bullets, and the occasional machete attack, make this the bloodiest campaign season in the history of a country with a long tradition of political violence, including 36 years of civil war that ended in 1996. But what makes the bloodletting different this time is that it has been attributed to narcotics traffickers and their allies intent on infiltrating Guatemala’s political system.

So dangerous is campaigning that Álvaro Colom, the leading presidential candidate, flies in a helicopter to avoid being ambushed and travels with a physician with extensive experience in bullet wounds. He is careful what he eats, lest someone poison it. “I hate to say this, but it’s more violent now than during the war,” he said.

Read the entire article

Posted by elcanche at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2007

Sorry, Bill

Hey everyone!

Here is another reason why I haven't been posting much lately: I'm now living in an apartment without windows.

Before you picture me trapped in some dank cellar somewhere, pining for the light of day, I should clarify: I'm now living in an apartment without Microsoft Windows.

In other words, I've gone Mac! (And you know what they say, once you've gone Mac, you can never go back.)

I'm the proud owner of a MacBook Pro. My previous laptop would crash and burn anytime I tried anything "fancy" in Photoshop like, say, opening a photograph. So I decided to switch from the silly operating system where you have to click the "start" button in order shut down your computer, to the one with the super-cool apple logo.

Unfortunately there's a bit of a learning curve involved with the switch. But my pain will be your gain. As I become more Mac-able, I'll share my some of my tips, tricks and reviews with you.

Don't worry, this won't become a Mac-only blog. Rather, think of it as my regular journal.... but with a new, improved Apple flavor!

A quick personal note, I want to thank my folks for helping me to purchase this amazing Mac machine. When I say "I couldn't have done it without you", I really, literally mean it. (With small monthly payments I should be able to repay your kindness by the year 2032. Sometime in late May, I think.)

Muchas gracias, from the bottom of my heart!

Posted by elcanche at 10:50 PM | Comments (3)

August 02, 2007

I heart N.Y.

I know, I know.

I'm like a magician suffering from short-term memory loss: I can disappear easily enough, but then I forget to come back. Meanwhile the audience members, shifting uneasily in their seats, begin to nervously whisper: "Is that it?" "Is he coming back?" "Can we get a refund?"

(The answer to the questions, by the way, are: no, yes, and dream on.)

So why the absence? Well, two main reasons.

The first, has to do my own kind of magic. You've all probably seen a magician put his lovely assistant in a box and then cut her in half with an oversized saw. Well, whoop-dee-doo. I can top that. I can split myself into three parts, just by traveling!

Every time I leave my family in New York and return to Guatemala, I ship myself back in pieces.

The first, obviously, is my body. Cramped from coach, and exhausted from the 3am departure, my body takes care of the dirty work: lugging the luggage from the airport to the apartment. For the first couple of days back I have all the get-up-and-go of a salted slug.

Thankfully, my brain arrives shortly thereafter. The brain begins to ask my body some important questions: Why isn't there any food in the house? Shouldn't you at least unpack? Hey buddy, how about taking a shower?

So, some 48-72 hours after returning, I'm a semi-functional human being again. On the outside, anyway.

The last part to arrive always takes its own sweet time in returning... my heart. You ever see the "I NY" logo? Well, take a closer look at it.. there's a good chance that the heart you're looking at is mine.

Don't get me wrong, its not that I don't love Guatemala. I do... just not right away. Leaving my family is the damned hardest thing I ever have to do, so it makes sense that my heart just won't depart.

Which kinda complicates life back here in Guate. I dread undertaking any kind of important work upon returning for fear that someone will criticize me with the astute observation: "it seems as if your heart isn't in it."

Eventually and inevitably my heart does return, only slightly worse for wear, and I can get back to serious business of loving my life in Guatemala.

Long ago I realized that "culture shock" isn't encountering a new language, different food, or unfamiliar customs. That's the fun stuff. Real culture shock is waking up and realizing that your heart is another country. So please forgive my recent silence. I'll be back online and updating the blog frequently, now that I survived yet another heart transplant!

Tomorrow: the much less mushy reason to explain my absence!

Posted by elcanche at 11:01 PM | Comments (2)

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