Stuff: Some of the information you just can’t do without, plus a whole lot of filler

The Polls Come In

With less than a hundred days to go until the Presidential elections the campaigning is starting to heat up and the opinion polls are starting to appear. The company ProDatos conducted a poll to study voter intentions in the Occidente region (covering the departments of Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, San Marcos, Suchitepequez and Totonicapan).

The results are far from surprising, and there’s a eery correlation between voter support and amount of money spent on advertising. It’s pretty much a two-horse race at the moment, with Otto Pérez Molina’s Partido Patriota (the orange ones with the fist) way out in front with a little over 39% of the vote. Trailing is Sandra Torres, candidate for the coalition of the Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (the green ones with the dove hands) and the Gran Alianza Nacional (the blue pyramid in the oval) who has almost 23% support.

From there it’s all crumbs. Manuel Baldizón’s LIDER (red thumbs up) doesn’t even rate 6%, despite having the most kookily entertaining lefty campaign slogans (“Let’s make a revolution without lies or promises!”) and Rigoberta Menchu of WINAQ (red stick figure offering hug) looks set to have another disappointing run, not even reaching the 2% mark.

And what does all this mean for the average tourist? Not much, actually – probably more of the same, whatever that is. We just thought you might like to know.

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Multilingual Cops

Being that Xela’s population is almost 50% indigenous, it’s maybe weird that somebody only just thought of this, but anyway… the new plan is to move members of the PNC who speak k’iche’ and mam to areas where the inhabitants speak, well, k’iche’ and mam. This should mean a big boost in multilingual police for the Xela region, where, at last count only 7% of police spoke a language other than Spanish.

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Political Violence

The leadup to September’s elections has been so sleepy that we thought we were going to have a peaceful one this year, but it appears not. As we go to press, it’s estimated that there have been 20 political assainations so far this year – the standout being tiny San José Pinula (population 43,000 and change) where two mayoral candidates have been gunned down, a third is recovering in hospital and a fourth has dropped out after receiving death threats. Gives a whole new meaning to “last man standing”, huh?

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