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P o p p i n g

Superchivos Cumpeaños

Xelaju MC recently celebrated their 75th anniversary. Xela loves a party, after all, and this was a pretty good excuse: there was a concert at the Centro Intercultural, a gala at the Teatro, and hundreds of fireworks.

Somehow, the boys from Mario Camposeco are popular here in Xela, they bring out that special kind of affection that consistently disappointing sports team helps to engender in its fans. In those seventy-five years, you can count the number of league titles that they’ve won on the fingers of one of your hands.

It’s not all about league titles, of course. The chivos are beloved here because they’re of Xela —they belong to the city, in all of their mediocrity, and that in and of itself is worth celebrating.

The anniversary celebration was also, of course, occasion for a football game. Almost eight thousand people packed Mario Camposeco to capacity, generating some 200,000 Quetzales in profit. Xelaju MC, as they are wont to do, lost 0-1 to Municipal. The important part is that we still love them.

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F lo p p i n g

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Dozens of dogs were poisoned overnight in San Marcos Atitlán, most dying in swift and horrible ways. Chatter in Lake Atitlan’s various Facebook groups puts the blame on the mayor of the municipality, who is allegedly trying to clean up the town before Holy Week brings an influx of tourists.

Ayuda, a shelter in Lake Atitlan that offers sterilization for dogs and cats, is simultaneously in dire need of funds. They’ve posted an online appeal for the $15,000 US they’re short on critical operating funds. Guatemala’s congress just passed an omnibus anti-animal cruelty bill. Here’s to hoping that it leads to us seeing fewer dogs poisoned in the street.

For Whom The Taco Bell Tolls

Protestors in blocked the Pan-American Highway at multiple points two days in a row to peacefully protest a dramatic spike in electricity prices and to call for formal reconciliation between Guatemala’s indigenous courts and the state legal system.

A similar shutdown of CA-1 in 2012 by the indigenous people of Totonicapan saw the army tear gas the crowd before opening fire with live ammunition. Six were killed and dozens were wounded. British hedge fund Actis, who owned Energuate at the time, was briefly thrown in the spotlight.

Actis owns Energuate because Guatemala nationalized and sold off the state’s power system in 1998. They’ve since sold the company to IC Power, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Kenon Holdings. IC Power owns not just Energuate but power companies in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and eight other Latin American nations.

Meanwhile, diputados in congress are stalling on a vote over proposed reform to incorporate Guatemala’s indigenous courts. The indigenous courts, as our correspondent Diana Pastor writes this week, are Mayan institutions that stretch back centuries; the deliver justice swiftly via judges elected by the community.Some of them —Solola, for example —allow for corporal punishment. But they also allow indigenous communities to seek justice on their own terms against local small fry and larger fish alike. In 2011, Chichicastenango sued Carlos Slim —the Mexican telecom billionaire and owner of Claro —over interruptions in service.

We can expect the protest to continue in the coming weeks. As of press time, the campesino organization CODECA is planning demonstrations and marches to call for Jimmy Morales, the least popular clown this side of the movie IT, to step down from the Guatemalan presidency. If you’re planning any trips, make sure that you don’t end up stuck on a chicken bus for hours waiting out the blockades.

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