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Football Fever!

Portada XW118 smallDon’t rub your eyes! You are not dreaming! Guatemala are world beaters in Football…well almost. Last Sunday (19/04) saw the final of the 24th World Football School Tournament between Guatemala and France, right here in Xela. The tournament, for both boys and girls, involved 31 teams from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas competing to be champions. The Guatemalan girls’ team made it all the way to the final, navigating their way past tournament favourites Finland, and beating a strong German team 2-1 in the semi-final. In the final they played France, who had beaten the Guatemalan “B” team in the group stage 8-0. After draw in 90 minutes the game when to shut-outs. Each player had 15 seconds to dribble the ball from the halfway line, before attempting to score past the keeper. France prevailed 3-1 to be crowned tournament champions, but what an incredible achievement from the Guatemalan team!

Let’s be honest, football in Guatemala is pretty shit. Most players run around the pitch like headless chickens (to coin a popular football/soccer phrase), on pitches that would not look out of place on a farmer’s field. Most players rarely stay at a club for more than one year before skipping over the rainbow, in search of that new pot of gold that is lying in wake. Also (like a lot of things here) there is a real lack of money going into Guatemalan football, though someone did manage to scrape together $1.5 million to get Lionel Messi to play in a friendly game back in 2013. Messi, of course, decided to come (I mean I would dress up as a woman and sing “I Will Survive” on national TV for that kind of money) scoring three goals, with a great value of $500,000 per goal. A good hour and half’s work don’t you think?

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¡Xela Despierta!

On the the 25th of April, hundreds of Quetzaltecos filled Xela’s Parque Central to join the nationwide protest against rampant corruption within the current government administration, after a Mafia-type operation was revealed to be operating within the country’s tax office, siphoning off millions of dollars-worth of tax money each month. The shouts were loud and clear: “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” (“the people together will never be defeated” – definitely doesn´t have as good a ring to it in English!). Dozens of banners decorated the park, adorned with clever slogans such as:  “Roxanna Baldetti: I´m not asking for your resignation, I´m demanding your trial”, “You don´t want any corruption? Then why do you keep voting for the same parties!”, “I don´t want your resignation, I´m firing you” and “A population that´s asleep can dream, but a population that´s awake can act.”

The Power of Protest in Guatemala

by Diana Pastor

On April 25th, there was a peaceful national demonstration to demand the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina and Vice-President Roxana Baldetti. In Guatemala, it’s hard to get a large number of people to turn up to a protest: some people do not attend for fear, others due to lack of time and others because they believe that demonstrations are powerless to change the situation. But on the 25th of April, the square of the Constitution of Guatemala and the central park of Xela were full of students, young people, old people and families with children; all there up to express their rejection of the government that has served for almost 4 years in a totally incompetent and shameless manner.

Flex Literary Festival

by Alba Carrasco

FLEX, the Festival of Books in Xela, arrives in Quetzaltenango on the 8th, 9th and 10th of May to celebrate Reading. FLEX is an event designed to encourage reading, and literature with people of all ages through exhibition, sales of books and cultural activities. We have a rich cultural program with participation from writers, scholars, publishers and booksellers from across the region and country, as well as a wide range of libraries. FLEX, a partner of Ciudad de Imagnación, feels that value of literature is an essential for human development, and the importance of reading in forming more critical and responsible citizens. Therefore, FLEX was created with an inclusive and accessible meeting place for all those who wish to come and participate. All activities are free and we will have great discounts on books. In FLEX we have a large sample library and also publishers hosting sales expos, presenting their new publications. There will also be a wide range of magazines to choose from.

Recipe of the Month – Pastel de Tres Leches

by Simone Riddle

Pastel de tres leches is a popular dish in Guatemala and other parts of Latin America. There would be fierce debate as to whether tres leches is a Guatemalan invention but it’s certainly found its way into most legitimate cafes and restaurants here.

Translated as ‘three milks,’ it actually uses four different kinds of milk-based products. But really, who’s counting when it tastes this good? If you’re looking for the perfect postre to go with that afternoon coffee (fair trade, of course!) then, when not try this tasty treat?

Trying to impress? Then make sure you use good quality eggs (frescos!) and splash some cash on vanilla extract. They should sell it at larger stores like Paiz but it will still taste good without it. These ingredients will llevarlo al otro nivel. Fijo.

Grow Your Own: What is a Weed?

by Juan Jardinero

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

? Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those plants that appear to grow spontaneously in your garden can be providing you with valuable information about your soil and microclimate. Simply by observing the most prevalent weeds that are growing in a specific area, they can indicate if the soil is acidic or alkaline, whether the soil is a healthy, balanced soil, or if it’s depleted.  Weeds can indicate a poorly draining soil, or a soil that is unable to retain moisture.  Weeds can even indicate if the soil is unbalanced, being overly rich in one nutrient and deficient in others. However we treat them with such disdain that we pull, spray, and curse them and spend many hours battling to suppress them in their gardens.

Trendy

With the highest number of Facebook users in Central America and a Twitter population growing by the thousands every month, social media can be a great place to find out what’s buzzing in Guatemala. Of course, there’s also a whole lot of nonsense posted online too, but at XelaWho we like nonsense so here are some of last month’s social media trends, with the interesting & the informative alongside the vacuous & the ludicrous.

Some of us are always looking for those cheap flights. Most will have an alert set up for Skyscanner, hoping to make sure you get that cheapest flight possible. Many of us flying to Europe will know just how expensive these tickets can be, but not according to our trusted vice President Roxanna Baldetti. She claimed that in fact it is cheaper to fly to Europe than it is to Petén, because the airlines “give promotions”.  Her promotion was that great that she also managed to bring her son Luis Pedro along for the ride. I really need to get a link of her for this website! While in Holland, Baldetti took part in the Liberal International Congress, where she discussed economic issues with the group, with she said would be useful for her country. Fantastic! But the road trip didn’t stop there as the vice president and her son made it all the way to Italy for an audience with the Pope. They both even managed to take a selfie with him, before jetting home. The selfie managed to make onto social media, before prompting #MuladasQueSóloBaldettiDiria to start circulating online.

The Magic Formula

Portada XW117 smallTake a trip to Lake Amatitlan near Guatemala City & you’d be forgiven for thinking upon first sight that its almost radioactive green colour must be due to some sort of volcanic phenomenon. Upon closer inspection, however, the lake reveals itself to be a grotesquely polluted green sludge that washes up on the shores with oil, chemicals, rubbish, faeces and you-probably-don’t-want-to-know what else.

14 municipalities share the lake but, in a classic case of the tragedy of the commons, none of them assume the responsibility to look after it properly. Consequently, around 2.25 million pounds of rubbish are deposited into the lake each year, together with huge quantities of sediments and waste from nearby communities and factories. The lake loses about a meter of depth each year, now down to less than 18 meters deep from its original 33 depth of meters. It is estimated that within 25 years Lake Amatitlan will be no more than a swamp, in what is sure to be one of Guatemala’s worst environmental disasters in history.

Enter the Guatemalan government to save the day! Well, not quite. Last month it was announced that AMSA, the institution responsible for “caring” for the lake”, together with the ludicrous but always entertaining Vice-President Roxanna Baldetti, have decided to invest in a multi-million dollar project which will supposedly clean the lake within 10 months and that is so shady it could almost pass for something straight out of House of Cards, if it wasn’t for the sheer incompetence of it all.

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Youth Consciousness

Social Media was filled with outrage as an image of someone vandalising the Chocoyos bridge in Zone 1. As a result a group of masked youths surprised the locals of Quetzaltenango when they erased the graffiti on the bridge, which was built in 1822. The youths, who belong to a group called Gix, are design students at a private university. “We were concerned to see the image of  someone vandalising the bridge and nobody did anything about it” said one of the masked youths. Users of social networks have demanded that the authorities investigate what happened and give a future solution, because the bridge is part of the history of the Quetzaltenango. A video of this amazing act can be found online. Simply go to youtube and search Limpieza “Los Chocoyos”- GIX

Adams Family (“Hermaphroditical”) Elections

by Richard Brown

Election season is coming up in Guatemala, so it’s important to remember that election mudslinging isn’t something new to the media age, and in fact some of America’s beloved founding fathers were pros.

Take the election of 1800. Thomas Jefferson secretly hired a media consultant, journalist James Callendar, to dish the dirty. Soon, publications accused President Adams, up for reelection, of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Adams’ campaign fired back that Jefferson was “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father,” in other words calling him part black, part Indian, and part slut all at the same time. And since Jefferson fought for separation of church and state, loved the French, and was a Deist, which means he believed in a Creator but not necessarily in the God of the Bible, the Adams camp warned that Jefferson would create an atheist, Robbespierrian nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will openly be taught  and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of distress, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.” A prominent minister called Jefferson “a decided, hardened infidel.” A Yale President and supporter of Adams said in a speech that “we would see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution” under Jefferson. Meanwhile, reports said that Adams would definitely launch a bloody, costly war against France if reelected, and that Adams had said so many things in support of monarchy and aristocratic rule that in trying to top them “all the words of our language, nay, all the ideas of the human mind, would be vainly applied.”