Guatemala News Wrap Up

May began on a disappointing note for president Colom, as he asked Congress for Q5 billion to finance government spending. Congress said… ah, no.

Electoral dramas started heating up as cracks appeared in the coalition between the UNE and GANA parties – both parties presented separate candidates for the upcoming elections, rather than running a unified ticket as expected. Outrage as a PNC officer was gunned down in front of his wife and 4 year old child, bringing the number of murdered police to 29 for the year so far. Ex-president Portillo took another small step along the road to justice as Guatemala’s Supreme Court denied an application for an injunction that would have prevented him from being extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges. And general religious (well, Catholic) joy as celebrations took place across the country at the news of late Pope John Paul II’s beatification. JP II has been a favorite in Guatemala ever since his papal visits in 1983, 1996 and 2002.

Election Day – 11 September 2011 – became official amidst claims that major parties were engaged in massive movements of people across the country to register in departments where they needed support. And Guatemala yielded yet another archaeological surprise, as hundreds of previously undocumented constructions were discovered deep in the Petén jungle.

The Sandra Torres Show continued, as the current President’s kind-of ex-wife turned up at the Registry Office to sign up as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. Many commentators have noted that Torres’ running for president is not allowed under the Guatemalan constitution.  The field for president slimmed slightly as Zury Ríos (daughter of ex-dictator Efraín Ríos Montt) withdrew her candidature.

Shock as news filtered in of a massacre of 27 farm workers in El Petén. Later reports postulated that Mexican gangsters Las Zetas were behind the massacre, looking for the farm owner who had allegedly stolen drugs from the gang. The government imposed a state of siege on the Petén department, but announced that it would not affect upcoming elections. An even bigger shock as two Korean firms announced their intention to invest in Guatemala’s defunct railway system. The government got another slap over the wrist for naughty campaigning, this time for placing election billboards on public transport. And some possibly good news for ailing Lake Atitlán, as communities around the lake unveiled a Q4 million project to maintain the lake as an ecotourism destination.

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