Guatemala This Month


By Elena Alvarado

If you are looking for a pick-me-up then you should realize that you’re much better off drinking a beer than reading the newspaper—especially this month which was most definitely not one of the best months for safety in Guatemala.

       A bus bombing in Guatemala City has the entire capital on edge. True, bus attacks have been escalating for the past ten years, but this new wave of violence seems especially brutal and random.

       The Colom Administration is blaming a shadowy anonymous group that’s supposedly “mad because [Colom] is offering health care to the poor.” Other more likely explanations include imprisoned gang leaders who are conducting proxy gang battles from behind bars, opposition political leaders who wish to destabilize the government, or even the Colom Administration itself (supposedly by bombing the public red buses, they will encourage folks to use the new, government-run green buses).

       Speaking of buses, the Transurbano is debuting to decidedly mixed reviews. Those who have been able to get bus passes have generally positive reviews, however, there are a large number of people who have been unable to get their bus pass due to delays.  At least the scandal of using the bus passes to steal personal information hasn’t seemed to repeat itself thus far.

       Speaking of proxy gang battles from behind bars, officials are trying their best to figure out how to crack down on gangsters from ordering hits and running drugs while incarcerated. Seemingly weekly prison sweeps turn up dozens of contraband cell phones at a time. Cell phone blocking towers have not worked as well as intended. One Guatemala City prison, despite having a no visitors policy since March of 2010, regularly confiscates an average of fifty phones a week. Perhaps they should consider frisking the guards.

       Finally, on the political front, there is turmoil in the ruling UNE party.  Friction between elected officials from urban areas and rural areas has led to two separate caucuses that are vying for control of the party.  Many election analysts expect that the party may dissolve between now and the 2011 presidential elections and turn into two separate factions.

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