Guatemala News Wrap Up

More rumblings on the presidential divorce scandal – vice president Manuel Estrada went public saying that he disagreed with president Colom’s decision to get a divorce so that his wife could run for office, and that he had only heard about the decision throug media reports. One happy immigration story, as 4-year-old Emily Ruiz is reunited with her parents in the US after a separation of six months. Emily had been deported to Guatemala despite the fact that she was born in the US. Quetzaltenango hit the headlines as drug kingpin Juan Ortiz was arrested here after a manhunt lasting nearly two months. Guatemalan cinema scored another win as film maker Verónica Riedel’s film Capsulas won an award at the Digital Film Festival in Chile.

Accusations of (more) vote buying as the government unveiled its new internship program, where school leavers will be paid Q1000 per month (above minimum wage) to participate in previously unpaid work experience programs.

Some national football joy finally as the under-20s Guatemalan team beat the USA 2-1, thereby  qualifying for this years’ World Cup in Colombia. This marks the first time that a Guatemalan team of any age group will be participating in a World Cup.

More scandal surrounded the controversial Mi Familia Progresa initiative (widely criticized as a thinly-veiled vote-buying ploy) as it was revealed that money destined to aid victims of last years’ Tropical Storm Agatha was diverted to donate household supplies to middle-class families.

The 113-year-old Huelga de Dolores took to the streets, with USAC university students lampooning the presidential couple and their questionable divorce as well as protesting the sale of National Parks to private interests.

In case you didn’t notice, Semana Santa (Easter) was celebrated with some fervor across the country, as crowds flocked to religious centers like Antigua and Puerto San José. The tax people seemed to cotton on to the fact that all that smuggled Mexican gasoline may be losing the country millions of dollars in tax revenue. The rainy season appears to have begun, and authorities have already begun warning that the Costa Sur (the region where Xela is located) could be heavily hit this year.

Guatemalan-born journalist Rubén Vives, working for the LA Times, picked up a Pullitzer prize for his reporting on corruption in the small town of Bell, California.

And just to add a note of familiarity, President Colom unveiled plans for another Q100 million social welfare program (this one aimed at health care) amongst the now-customary criticisms of lack of transparency and accountability.

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