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Guatemala this Month

Take a deep breath – this stuff actually happened.

An unsurprising slip last month, as Guatemala fell from 84th to 91st place on Transparency International’s “Perception of Corruption” Index, a study which combines business and public perceptions of public sector corrution. One got away, as Director Alejandro Giammattei was acquitted of charges of the extrajudicial execution of seven prisoners during his stint as prison director, but two went down as two former police got sentenced to 40 years jail for their part in the “forced disappearance” of a union leader in 1984.

More shadows from the past as Zury Ríos (daughter of ex-president and Scorched Earth architect General Efraín Ríos Montt) was elected to run as the FRG’s presidential candidate in the upcoming national elections.

The road to Panajachel on Lake Atitlán doesn’t look like getting fixed in a hurry, as a new dock was inaugurated in nearby Jaibalito, where the main road ends and visitors have to boat in to town. The works, which had an initial completion date of December this year may be finished by the new date (Feb 2011). Until then, the town is accessible only by two roads, (both of them famous for bandit attacks) and boat.

The RENAP fiasco continues, as it is estimated that 2.8 million otherwise eligible Guatemalans will not be allowed to vote in the 2011 elections due to “administrative problems”. And the  serious cold started, with parts of the country complaining about temperatures of 10 degrees celsius. Bah. Here in Xela the mercury dropped to a balmy six degrees. Nothing cheery on the Human Development Index front either, where Guatemala remained at place 116, unchanged in the last 5 years.

Turns out the judges are just like the rest of us, with 76% of those interviewed claiming to have  “personal security concerns”. The pre-election skirmishes are starting already, with accusations that Sandra Torres, wife of current President Alvaro Colom, is using public funds and buildings in her pre-campaign campaign for presidency.

 And just to round things out, there were grumblings from the European Union, who claim to have seen very little results or even distribution from all the money they donated to feed Guatemala’s poor.

The good news? Widespread participation in the “Rompe el Ciclo” campaign to end the cycle of violence in Guatemala even saw famous football rivals Municipal and Comunicaciones put aside their differences (well, not really) for an exhibition match to publicize the campaign.

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