Guatemala News Wrap Up

January wrapped with strange rumblings from political circles – current President Otto Pérez Molina’s wife, Rosa Leal, took over social projects formerly administered by the outgoing First Lady and promised that a thorough audit was being undertaken, so that they could denounce anomalies with certainty.

Meanwhile, Sandra Torres, that very ex-First Lady (who you will remember divorced her husband in a failed attempt to become eligible to run for President) gave a speech saying that her party would be the first to have a Guatemalan woman for president, and that woman would be her.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams visited Guatemala to meet with community leaders from the department of Huehuetenango who claim that their opposition to local mining projects has met with violent reprisals.

And excitement mounted in the showbiz world as Ricardo Arjona, probably Guatemala’s most famous musician, began his tour of the Americas, which began in Mexico and will wind up in Guatemala in March 2012. The video for Arjona’s latest song, Fuiste tú, was filmed in Guatemala and has scored thousands of hits on sites like youtube.

An estimated 40,000 motorcyclists took part in the 51st annual Caravana del Zorro, a pilgrimage to visit the Cristo Negro in Esquipulas. The Guatemalan government issued a postage stamp to commemorate the occasion.

It was a bad month for the police’s spotty reputation as another four officers went down, on charges of assault, conspiracy and unlawful association. The Secret Service got a bit of a smearing as well, as various agents were accused of membership of a band of kidnappers, and the selection and screening process for the Service came under question. Meanwhile there was a little flare up on the Belizean border as a Belizean army officer shot two Guatemalans, wounding one and killing the other.

The Guatemalan film industry took another small step forward, with the nationwide release of the award-winning film Cápsulas, directed by Guatemalan film maker Verónica Riedel. Cultural historians expressed concern over indigenous festivals such as Rabinal Achí, which, while touted as part of Guatemala’s cultural heritage, receive little support or funding from government bodies.

And anybody wondering what the police actually do here will be slightly heartened by this news: they confiscated 4,356 illegal guns in 2011, around a quarter of which were 9mm.

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