Guatemala This Month

Take a deep breath – this stuff actually happened. By Elena Alvarado

Round and round the wheel of disasters goes, where it stops will be on mudslides which continue to bedevil the country and would-be travelers. The ever-rising death toll is in the hundreds, and though the roads are travelable as of press time, the ground is soft and they are prone to go at any moment.

Fortunately, mudslide provoked gas shortages sparked only long waits at the gas station and not riots as some had feared.  At one point there were only two gas stations open in the entire city.  Fortunately, that situation has passed.

Moving on to Guatemala City violence the recent shootout at hotel Tikal Futura has residents of the capital on edge.  During a bust of narcos gone wrong six people were killed and dozens detained. Investigations into what happened and what went wrong are on-going, although most of the suspects thought to be involved ended up being killed in the firefight.

The Salvadorian military is urging Guatemala and Honduras to be on the lookout for Salvadorian gang members belonging to Maratrucha and MS-18. Gang members are apparently expanding their operations into neighboring countries, warns Col. Victor Maldonado.

In the ongoing attorney general debacle (Guatemala has been without an attorney general for most of 2010) the elections commission is expressing worry that no candidates have come forward to run for the position. While the commission optimistically is attributing this to the Guatemalan custom to do things at the last second (seriously), the more likely explanation is that anyone with political ambitions is seeking to keep their powder dry for the upcoming 2011 elections and avoid the baggage of the Colom Administration.

Also in elections news, Manuel Baldizon of the opposition LIDER (the red thumbs-up signs you see along the highways) might be thrown out of the 2011 elections by the elections commission which has yet to register LIDER as a political party. Baldizon and the commission have feuded constantly throughout 2010 with the commission claiming Baldizon is violating the no-campaign law, whereas Baldizon is claiming discrimination.

On the good news front, Hurricane Karl will miss Guatemala although Mexico reported some damages.

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