Guatemala News Wrap Up

As it often happens this time of year, the big news last month was the weather. Across the country earthquakes, floods, and landslides destroyed homes, highways, and crops. Such disasters have the government looking for funds to aid displaced families and rebuild infrastructure. And as usual, the government is requesting donations and loans from the international community. The US Embassy was generous enough to pledge US$50,000 to the cause. No, that is not a typo though one has to hope that such an amount does not constitute the limits of the gringo generosity (yes, there is a budget crisis in the US, but really, US$50,000?).

Other big news was the final stretch of the presidential campaign. With the run-off between the top two candidates scheduled for November 6, the competition between Miguel Baldizon and Otto Perez Molina has gotten heated as polls show Baldizon continuing to close the gap. In a recent debate, both candidates continually ignored the debate moderator’s call for order, choosing instead to insult each other rather than bother to touch on any actual policy proposals.

Despite the fact that Perez Molina’s Patriot Party has already reportedly surpassed the limit on campaign spending, new billboards emblazoned with campaign slogan (“the change is coming”) continue to appear as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal fails to enforce the law. Not to be outdone, Baldizon has throw up a series of new billboards with his equally inane slogan (“everyone together towards the future”). Given that no matter who wins the election, “the future” and “a change” in administration are both coming, one hopes that these fine gentlemen have policy ideas that are better than their slogans.

In international news, Guatemala was elected to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the first time in its history (it was only one of six original UN members to never have served on the security council).  Running (unopposed) to represent Latin America, Guatemala received 191 of 193 possible votes from other member countries- as the ballots aren’t public, there is no word yet on which two countries hold a secret grudge against the Chapins.

Finally, Guatemala sent some athletes to the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico to compete in such obscure sports as rhythmic gymnastics, skeet shooting, and judo. After winning gold in badminton (go Kevin Cordon!) and women’s speed-walking, Guatemala was in the top ten for total medal count.

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