P o p p i n g
To the Rescue!
It can often be difficult to bring our readers a positive “Popping” story from the local news each month, what with the daily stories of robberies, murders, corruption, incompetent politicians and bureaucrats, car crashes, chaos on the roads, collapsing infrastructure and the ever disappointing Super Chivos (sorry guys).
However, this month fortunately Xela’s local police forces came to the rescue when were able to rescue a 6 day-old baby in Cantel after its mother had been scammed into handing it over to another couple, presumed to be part of a larger network involved in the kidnapping and illegal adoption of children. The child is said to be in healthy condition.
F lo p p i n g
Discontent with the Municipality and, particularly, with Mayor Jorge Barrientos’ administration, has been reaching boiling point in January over the news that electricity tariffs will see an increase of 8 to 20 centavos / kilowatt hour as of February, 2014. Barrientos justifies the increase by arguing it will lead to a better service (heard that one before…) and will help to plug a hole in the debt owed to National Electrification Institute (instead of lining a few well connected peoples’ pockets, of course…). Local residents on the other hand are angry that they are being forced to pay increased rates for a service that doesn’t work half the time; that the decision-making process that led to the increase wasn’t transparent or participatory; that the debt owed to the INDE is due to inept and corrupt administration and not because rates have been kept too low; and that the new rates will unfairly impact upon poor households who need every penny just to meet their food costs.
Aaaand the Oscar for the Best Actress of 2014 goes to…… Roxana Baldetti!! (that’s Guatemala’s Vice-president, for those who aren´t up-to-speed on Guatemalan politics quite yet).
The (melo)drama for which Baldetti was bestowed the prestigious award ensued after protesters threw a white powder over the Vice-president in the National Theatre after the presentation of the government’s second annual report. Was it anthrax? Ricin? Arsenic? Caustic soda? Nope. Just plain old chalk.
Nevertheless, Baldetti was rushed to hospital and outrage ensued among the highest levels of Guatemala’s political circles, who were quick to condemn the act as cowardly and explained how much of a terrible precedent it set for Guatemala (of course, forgetting for a moment all of the daily acts of violence that so many ordinary citizens have to endure).
Grand conspiracies were also quick to emerge from the current administration, who claim it forms part of a larger terrorist plot organized by the opposition party.
Meanwhile, the nefarious chalk- thrower, Daira Cotón, explained that it was a simple enactment of freedom of expression: “If they — the leaders — have the right to enact circus and theatre shows, we too as citizens have the right to express ourselves.”
The theatre show continued well into January, with Molina cancelling his participation in the G8 forum in Davos, claiming the Vice-president was still too unwell to assume his duties, and Baldetti being returned home from hospital for a an ongoing and undefined period of “recovery”.