Guatemala News Wrap Up

February wrapped with very few surprises – more jostling in the Constitutional Court over who’s allowed to run for President, more jostling in the Congress over who’s allowed to elect judges to the Constitutional Court and a little corruption scandal, this time pointed at Alfredo Pokus, the minister for Energy and Mines, who’s accused of falsifying documents to give unfair advantage in the awarding of government contracts. On a high note, Guatemalan filmmaker Rafael Rosal was appointed director of Cuba’s prestigious film school, Santo Domingo de los Banos. And there was plenty of eye candy for everyone as Mazatenango celebrated its 126th carnaval, with the requisite choreographed shows and scantily-clad parades through the streets.

Electoral weirdness took another step forward with mass demonstrations in the streets asking current-President Colom’s wife, Sandra Torres, to please accept candidature for presidency. Naysayers wondered if the “demonstrators” weren’t perhaps being paid a little something for their troubles.

The much-anticipated political violence of the election year began, with an armed confrontation between supporters of the UNE and Patriota parties. Several cars were burnt, multiple injuries were reported and both sides blame the other for starting the fight. Guatemalans went down to the beach to see the tsunami roll in but seemed to be somewhat disappointed with the only slightly-larger-than-average waves.

More Guatemalan film news as young filmmaker Julio Hernández won the Jury Selection prize at the Miami Film Ferstival for his work Marimbas del Infierno.

Electoral weirdness took a giant leap forward as the president’s wife Sandra Colom announced she would be getting a divorce so as to sidestep the constitutional prohibition against president’s family members running for the same office. In a very odd little dance, both acknowledged that that was the reason for the divorce, while both denying that there was any constitutional impediment to Torres’ election. The move may well backfire – 98% of Guatemalans polled said they were opposed to politically-motivated divorce. Meanwhile the actual president went on the road, publicizing the “solidarity bag” initiative begun by his wife – a campaign that supporters describe as donating groceries to poor families while critics label it blatant vote-buying.

And another one bit the dust as Mayor of Villa Nueva and Minister of Gobernación Salvador Gándara was sentenced to prison time for money laundering.

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