First up the biggest news of August: Guatemala won its first EVER medal in the Olympics this month! Erick Barrondo took the silver medal in the 20km race walk, after being narrowly beaten by China’s Ding Chen. The 20km walk is a peculiar competition which has judges throughout the race watching everyone’s knees and hips and disqualifying anyone that breaks into a run from a walk. Naturally, Barrondo was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to Guatemala.
Work has started work on a high-tech radio-telescope that is going to be installed in Guatemala and (hopefully) up and running by April 2013. The telescope will allow for the study of neutral hydrogen in the Universe and, due to Guatemala’s unique position on the globe, will allow scientists to study more than 90% of the universe.
Online web communities are expanding fast in Guatemala: more than 2 million Guatemalans are now registered on Facebook (Xela has 38 thousand registered users). Guatemala now has the 13th highest number of Facebook users in Latin America, and the 61st highest in the world. Singer Ricardo Arjona is Guatemala’s most followed person on Twitter, with 2,118,703 followers.
The fourth phase of the Tengo algo que dar (I have something to give) initiative got underway in August. The initiative aims to raise awareness among middle-class Guatemalans about poverty and malnutrition in the country. This fourth phase mobilised more than 6,000 volunteers who went to visit 11 poor communities in order to get a better understanding of the conditions they live in. The volunteers brought fruit trees and various other tools with them, aiming to help families overcome the problems of malnutrition in their communities.
Alta Verapaz continues to be the department with the most cases of conflicts over land in the country. There are currently over 300 agrarian conflicts in 17 municipalities in the department. Out of these conflicts over land, 51% were due to occupations by real estate, 44% were due to disputes over land rights, 4% were caused by regulations and 1% by territorial boundaries.