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Guatemala This Month: A Summary of Stuff That Actually Happened

By Lucas Vidgen

A look back at the new and newsworthy during the month of April, 2010.

March in Guatemala wrapped up on several high notes, with bus strikes over the government’s refusal to give tax breaks on the purchase of new buses (we have a sneaking feeling Colom doesn’t ride the chicken buses that often), the start of campaigning for the post of Attorney General, and the San Carlos University kids in their annual Huelga de Dolores, lampooning the Presidential couple over corruption allegations. Just before Easter the World Economic Forum announced that Guatemala has the worst education system in Central America.

Things slacked off a little with Semana Santa – traditionally an incredibly slow news period when everybody is either in Antigua, standing shoulder to shoulder watching religious processions or at the beach, standing shoulder to shoulder in knee-deep water.

We jumped back into action in April though, with Congress announcing a massive sale of Treasury Bonds. Critics slammed the scheme, claiming it provided no extra funding for essential state operations like education, health and security.

Security was a buzzword again, as congressional representatives nearly came to blows over a law designed to regulate the private security firms which are widespread throughout the country.

Things got ugly as members of the government started a smear campaign against opposition deputies who have been investigating the lack of transparency in the Mi Familia Progresa program. The program was run by the President’s wife until she resigned late in the month. Many say the resignation was calculated to save the First Lady from criminal investigation.

There’s no shortage of strange and tragic ways to die in Guatemala, and April was no exception. A Venezuelan tourist was killed by a flying rock after straying into a “no-go” zone on Pacaya volcano, near Antigua, and her guide was killed by another flying rock after he went to rescue her. Closer to home, four high school students in Xela died when a landslide landed on top of the classroom  they were in.

Foreign adoptions were back in the news, as 15 Mexican nationals came under investigation for illegal adoptions, allegedly aided by evangelical churches. And Earth Day was celebrated with a general wringing of hands, particularly in reference to damage caused to the Petén’s Laguna del Tigre, at the hands of cattle ranchers, farmers, fires and settlers.

So what’s the good news? The International Monetary Fund predicts that Guatemala’s economy will grow 2.5% this year, and 3.5 % in 2011. Yippee.

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