Guatemala News Wrap Up

March wrapped with big showbiz news as Guatemala’s most famous musician and Pepsi spokesman Ricardo Arjona breezed through for the local leg of his Metamorfosis world tour. Earth hour (that thing where you turn your lights off for an hour) was not such a big hit – there were reports that “hundreds” of Guatemalans had participated – possibly because the electricity goes out for at least 10 hours a week anyway, so we feel like we’re doing our part just living here. Brownouts may be a thing of the past, though, as the country’s largest hydroelectric plant was opened in Alta Verapaz.

Interesting news on the gang front as reports surfaced that El Salvador’s M18 and Mara Salvatrucha gangs had signed a peace treaty. This came to light just as rumors that the Mexican gang the Zetas were seeking an alliance with the Salvatruchas to facilitate their move into Central America.

Grisly shadows from the past as bodies in clandestine cemeteries continue to be exhumed. Estimates are that over 5000 civil war fatalities have now been discovered. A possible silver lining is that war criminals are beginning to be prosecuted as well. One of the largest sentences handed out so far was to ex Military Commissioner Lucas Tecún, who was sentenced to 7,710 years in prison.

Easter fever hit, with processions around the country, insane crowd scenes at beaches and unholy traffic jams just about everywhere. Sadly predictable news as the Auditor General reported that nearly all departments in the country suffer from “accounting irregularities”, as do most government departments. And following in that vein, Congress overturned the Civil Service Act (1748), opening up the way to grant themselves whatever pay rises they feel like, whenever.

A hundred days into his presidency, Otto Pérez defended accusations of inactivity, pointing to various plans that had been made (but not as yet implemented) as proof that his government was on the “right track”. The rainy season appeared to come a little early with serious downpours on the coast and flood-prone areas like Xela’s Zona 2 seeing serious water levels. And things wrapped up on a high note as Guatemala’s most famous trekker, Andrea Cardona, made it to the North Pole. Cardona’s previous achievements include South America’s highest peak, Aconcagua and Mount Everest.

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