The health department of Zacapa reports five cases hemorrhagic dengue fever. Four are getting outpatient treatment and one, a 13 year old boy, is hospitalized. The teen's mother saw he was bleeding from the nose and brought him in to the hospital.
The reports from Zacapa began last week with several suspected cases but it was only confirmed today that they have hemorrhagic dengue fever. Prior to last week, only Izabal and Peten had reported cases of hemorrhagic fever. The situation may change since more samples are being analyzed at the National Epidemiology Center in Guatemala City. The clinics in Zacapa have seen a total of 23 cases of dengue.
Disease vector abatement teams are now working areas of Zacapa, starting with the homes of those with the disease, removing places where water can collect, where mosquitos lay eggs, and they plan to fumigate 27,000 homes.
Health Authorities Poptún, Petén, declared a red alert due to an outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever in this region because of difficulties that face the abatement teams in carrying out fumigation. There are 29 reported cases and hundreds of unreported cases. One young woman has died from hemorrhagic dengue.
There are 10 suspected cases of the hemorrhagic form of dengue fever in the regional hospital in San Benito. The governor of Peten said that despite the difficulties, work is proceeding on junk removal, removal of places where water collects, and fumigation in the neighborhoods of San Benito and Santa Elena Flores. More than 150 cases of dengue have been reported in the Flores / San Benito area plus an unknown number of unreported cases.
The hospital in San Benito is presently overcrowded with patients, due to the surge of people who have symptoms of dengue fever. The hospital is attempting to acquire more supplies and equipment.
The coordinator of the disease vector unit in Flores reports they have 14 sprayers and vaporizers and they have 100 communities to service. At the present rate, they will run out of insecticide in one more week.
As a consequence of the red alert conditions, the national emergency agency, Conred, has activated its Emergency Operations Committee.
For its part, Geovany Martinez, delegate of the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conrad) in that department, reported on the activation of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE), in order to enact a red alert following the death of a young woman in the town of Poptun. He noted that no information on 29 cases of classical dengue and hundreds of suspects.
Gonzalo Palacios, delegate of the PDH in Poptún, blames the surge in cases of classic dengue and hemorrhagic dengue in the Poptun area on the month long strike by the disease vector abatement workers. The workers were demanding the removal of the health director in that region and during the month long strike, no fumigation or abatement work was carried out. As a result, we have an outbreak of dengue.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The health department of Zacapa reports five cases hemorrhagic dengue fever. Four are getting outpatient treatment and one, a 13 year old boy, is hospitalized. The teen's mother saw he was bleeding from the nose and brought him in to the hospital.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Three weeks ago tomorrow, Tigo Internet experienced a serious failure in the Fronteras cell tower. Most Tigo users in Rio Dulce have probably noticed a severe or complete disruption of service unless you are located close to the tower. I know that many, including myself, have been unable to connect at all.
Yesterday, Tigo had widespread network problems that caused outages in cell phone service as well. Due to this failure, Tigo was unable to continue diagnostics of the internet problem.
This afternoon I was preparing for another round of telephone calls / diagnostics with Tigo and discovered that WCDMA and HSDPA service in Fronteras is restored full strength and full speed. So it appears the problem has been fixed. I have yet to perform more stringent tests from greater distances but at the moment it appears to be fixed.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - The Coast Guard says a cutter based in Alameda has seized two speedboats, recovered a bale of cocaine and detained four suspected smugglers off the coast of Guatemala. The bust was made Wednesday night by the cutter Bertholf about 80 miles from the Central American nation. Officials say four boats were spotted by a patrol aircraft before a marksman aboard a Coast Guard helicopter shot out the engines of 2 speedboats. Crews on interceptor boats from the Bertholf then boarded the two disabled boats and took the suspected smugglers into custody. It is the first drug bust by the crew of the Bertholf since the vessel was commissioned in August of 2008.
The bust was made Wednesday night by the cutter Bertholf about 80 miles from the Central American nation.
Officials say four boats were spotted by a patrol aircraft before a marksman aboard a Coast Guard helicopter shot out the engines of 2 speedboats.
Crews on interceptor boats from the Bertholf then boarded the two disabled boats and took the suspected smugglers into custody.
It is the first drug bust by the crew of the Bertholf since the vessel was commissioned in August of 2008.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Yesterday, the Third Court of Appeals decided that the case against Guatemalan Twitter user, "jeanfer" be halted and the bail of Q50,000 be returned. This case against Twitter user "jeanfer", Jean Ramsés Anleu Fernández, has become famous around the world. It is believed that Jean Anleu is the first person ever to be arrested for a "tweet" on Twitter.
The case began in May of 2009 during the presidential scandal in Guatemala where slain attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg had left a video tape wherein he claims that President Colom was involved in his killing and that Banrural, a major bank in Guatemala, was also involved in the killing and other corruption. The bank, Banrural, reported to the Superintendent of Banks on May 13th, that more than Q500 million had been withdrawn by frightened or angry customers.
At the time this was happening, hundreds, maybe thousands of people were making comments on Twitter, on blogs, and forums, and other online social media, discussing the Rosenberg case and the charges. One of those people was "jeanfer" who wrote a tweet suggesting that customers pull their money out of Banrural. For some reason, the Ministry of Banks decided to make an example of Jean Anleu, who was arrested for his "tweet" and jailed. The online community raised the required Q50,000 bail, but Anleu remained under house arrest, unable travel, and was facing 5 to 10 years in prison.
The court of appeals decided in Anleu's favor, stating that the case was without merit because the financial panic surrounding Banrural was in fact caused by the Rosenberg video tape and not by Jean Anleu's one line comment on Twitter. The court ordered Anleu's bail be returned, that his house arrest, travel restriction, and reporting requirements all be dropped.
The Fiscalia (prosecutors office) now has three days in which to appeal the decision.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Very few people in Guatemala think Álvaro Colom is guilty of the assassination of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg, according to a poll by CID-Gallup. Only eight per cent of respondents believe the president is responsible for Rosenberg’s murder.
Three-in-five respondents say they do not know who is behind the crime.
Guatemalan voters elected a new president in November 2007. Final results gave Colom of the left-leaning National Union of Hope (UNE) 52.82 per cent of the vote. His run-off contender, Otto Pérez Molina of the right-leaning Patriot Party (PP), finished second with 47.18 per cent of all cast ballots. Colom was sworn in as president in January 2008.
On May 10, Rosenberg—a prominent lawyer and businessman—was killed in Guatemala City. Days earlier, Rosenberg had videotaped himself accusing Colom and his wife, Sandra Torres, of plotting to assassinate him. The lawyer considered himself a target due to his involvement with two clients—Khalil Musa and daughter Marjorie Musa—who were killed on Apr. 14. Rosenberg claimed that the Guatemalan government ordered the assassinations to cover corrupt dealings in which Khalil Musa was involved.
Since the Rosenberg videotape surfaced, thousands of people have marched on the streets of Guatemala City either showing support for Colom or asking him to step down. The president ordered an investigation into Rosenberg’s death. Both the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) are studying the case.
On Jun. 10, Colom said that Rosenberg’s assassination has tarnished the image of Guatemala around the world, declaring that the negative impact of the case on his credibility is "very low" domestically, whereas "the real problem is abroad."
Who is guilty of the murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg?
Organized crime 11%
The president 8%
Common criminals 5%
Groups opposed to the government 5%
Not sure 60%
Methodology: Interviews with 1,213 Guatemalan adults, conducted from Jun. 5 to Jun. 15, 2009. Margin of error is 2.8 per cent.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia - No precedent exists for an international criminal or hybrid court to award individual reparations, although national truth-and-reconciliation commissions have urged individual governments to try.
The thousands who were raped and maimed in Sierra Leone's 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002, are now registering with the government's National Commission for Social Action to receive money as well as education and health-care benefits to compensate for their loss. In Guatemala, where 64,000 requests are pending from victims of the country's 36-year civil war, the government is responding with compensation payments ranging from $1,500 to $2,500.
For better or worse, victims of the Khmer Rouge now have expectations for the long-awaited tribunal and what it will award for reparations, says Ruben Carranza, a senior associate in International Center for Transitional Justice reparations unit in New York.
"There's still some hope the court will cast an approach that is feasible and, while not satisfying everyone, will provide the basic acknowledgement that all the victims need," Mr. Carranza says.
"It's not too late," he adds, "but they're running out of time."
The 48-hour trade embargo imposed by Honduras' three neighbors in response to a military coup came to an end on Thursday, with a cost to the nation worth 16 million U.S. dollars.
El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua had all halted trade with Honduras after Sunday's military coup against President Manuel Zelaya.
The four Central American nations usually work closely together, and are known as the CA-4.
Amilcar Bulnes, president of the Honduran National Business Council, (Cohep), told media Thursday that a Cohep committee had traveled to El Salvador on Wednesday, to "explain to them what is really going on in the country" and seek to preserve regional economic integration.
The Cohep has supported Roberto Micheletti, the acting president installed by the Congress after the coup.
Honduran soldiers stormed the presidential palace early Sunday morning and forced Zelaya to exile.
The United Nations, Organization of American States and many foreign government leaders condemned the military uprising and refused to recognize Micheletti's government.
"The closure ended at zero on Thursday, and even though there was willingness to extend the measure, there were no instructions to that effect," said David Cristiani, Guatemala's deputy economic minister.
The business and financial community in Guatemala opposed the closure of the nation's borders, and the Central America, Dominican Republic and Panama Private Enterprise Federation also issued a statement describing the move as a violation of CA-4 treaties.
Honduras is Guatemala's third largest export market, with an export value of 737 million U.S. dollars in 2008, or around 2 million dollars a day, Cristiani said, adding Guatemala also lost income from customs during the two days.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
A short while ago, deposed Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said he was denied permission to land at Tegucigalpa's airport Sunday evening after a deadly clash between Zelaya's supporters and government troops.
Zelaya told the Venezuela-based news network Telesur that his jet was denied permission to land in Tegucigalpa, where military vehicles were arrayed on the runway. The aircraft was en route to San Salvador, the capital of neighboring El Salvador, after what Zelaya called a "fruitless" attempt to land.
At least one person was killed and eight wounded after security forces opened fire and used tear gas on protesters who ringed Tegucigalpa's airport, said Hugo Orellana, a Red Cross director in Honduras. Protest leaders put the death toll at three.
After being denied permission to land in Honduras, Zelaya's plane made a stop to refuel in Nicaragua's capital, Managua.
During the stop, he met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega -- who is a leftist ally of both Zelaya and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez -- and told Telesur that his supporters had been trying to remove obstacles from the runway in Tegucigalpa when troops opened fire. "The people pulled back when fired upon," he said.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (CNN) -- Honduran troops used tear gas and fired shots into the air to hold back protesters at Tegucigalpa's airport Sunday evening ahead of an attempted return by deposed President Jose Manuel Zelaya, injuring at least one person, protest organizers said.
Soldiers lined barricades surrounding the airport in expectation of confrontations between Zelaya and his supporters and the provisional government that has vowed to keep him from coming back from a weeklong exile.
Zelaya was en route to Tegucigalpa on Sunday evening, and several thousand supporters gathered outside the airport in expectation of his arrival. But Civil Aviation Director Alfredo San Martin said in a radio address that the ousted leader's flight would be barred from landing in Honduras and diverted to El Salvador.
At a news conference, provisional President Roberto Micheletti said Zelaya's return could create unrest in a country that has seen demonstrators for both sides in the streets since the June 28 military-led coup that sent Zelaya into exile.
"I don't want a single drop of blood to be spilled in Honduras," Micheletti said.
At the same moment, speaking from aboard a small jet that was transporting him from Washington to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, Zelaya told Telesur TV that he intended to land in his native country.
"I am the commander in chief of the armed forces elected by the people, and I ask the armed forces to comply with this order to open up the airport and avoid any problems with the landing," Zelaya said.
See the rest of the story here.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduras braced for confrontation Sunday as ousted insisted on coming home to reclaim his post, urging his supporters to mass at the airport for a showdown with the interim government in power since the army sent him into exile a week ago.
The interim government said it ordered the military to prevent the landing of a plane carrying Zelaya or any unidentified plane.
"The government of President (Roberto) Micheletti has order the armed forces and the police not to allow the entrance of any plane bringing the former leader," the foreign minister of the interim government, Enrique Ortez, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
At the main Tegucigalpa airport, soldiers outnumbered travelers and commercial flights were canceled after a final morning departure. Access roads were cut off by police checkpoints, with soldiers standing guard alongside.
5.0 Mb - EL SALVADOR
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 5.0 Mb
5 Jul 2009 10:35:53 UTC
5 Jul 2009 04:35:53 near epicenter
5 Jul 2009 04:35:53 standard time in your timezone
Location: 13.012N 88.493W
Depth: 69 km
* 37 km (23 miles) S (189 degrees) of Usulután, Usulután, El Salvador
* 61 km (38 miles) SW (214 degrees) of San Miguel, San Miguel, El Salvador
* 69 km (43 miles) SE (143 degrees) of Zacatecoluca, La Paz, El Salvador
* 103 km (64 miles) SE (135 degrees) of SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador
(AP:FAIRVIEW, N.J.) For five years, immigrant day laborer Leo Chamale wired money twice a month from New Jersey to his family in Guatemala. Recently, he stepped up to the money transfer window for a different purpose _ to ask that his family send some of his savings back to him.
"I hadn't worked for five months, and I was two months behind on rent, so I had them send $1,500," the 21-year-old Chamale said in Spanish. "My mother said, `That's a lot of money!'"
With the U.S. economy in a ditch, money transfer agencies have been reporting a decline in the wages immigrants are sending back to their home countries. Now, it appears some immigrants are going a step further _ asking their relatives to wire them money back.
"We've never seen this before," said Marlen Miranda, manager of Peerless Travel in Fairview, which runs a money transfer service. "I mean, one or two people might receive money for a special reason, but not this quantity of people."
Miranda said she has seen her customer base dwindle from 200 people to 75 who regularly use her money transfer services each month. Of those 75, Miranda said, about 20 now come in to receive money instead of sending it home.
See rest of the story here.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Time: 30 Jun 2009 16:22:33 UTC
Location: 15.488N 86.442W
Depth: 25 km
15 km (9 miles) E (87 degrees) of Olanchito, Atlántida, Honduras
49 km (31 miles) SE (131 degrees) of La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras
50 km (31 miles) WSW (249 degrees) of Tocoa, Colón, Honduras
178 km (110 miles) NNE (28 degrees) of TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras' ousted president, bolstered by international support, said he will return home this week to regain control. The man who replaced him said Tuesday that Manuel Zelaya could be met with an arrest warrant.
The military coup on Sunday provoked nearly universal condemnation from governments of the Western Hemisphere, from President Barack Obama to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and it sparked clashes in the Honduran capital that have left dozens of people injured.
Flanked by Latin American leaders who have vowed to help him regain power, Manuel Zelaya said late Monday that Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza had agreed to accompany him back to Honduras.
But the man named by Honduras' Congress as interim president, Roberto Micheletti, indicated Tuesday that Zelaya would risk arrest if he returns because "the courts of my country have issued arrest orders" against him.
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who has forged close ties with Chavez, said he wanted to return to Tegucigalpa on Thursday after attending a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly to seek support from its 192 member nations.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
“Finance ministers, central bank governors, financial sector superintendents, IMF management and staff, and representatives of other international financial institutions met in Antigua, Guatemala, over the past two days to discuss key policy issues facing the region. The conference focused on the effects of the global crisis on the economies and financial sectors of the region, the policy responses that have been implemented in these countries, and lessons learned to guide future reforms."
“This year’s conference took place against the background of an unprecedented global financial and economic crisis. While the region has not been significantly affected by financial channels, where the crisis originated, economies in the region have been affected as a result of their strong external linkages with the United States and other advanced economies. Conference participants agreed that these shocks pose complex policy challenges, yet stressed that Central America is in a better position to weather the storm today than in the past."
“Participants discussed the impact of the global crisis on the financial systems of the region. While the crisis generated a significant reduction in foreign funding, financial systems in the region have held up well, in part because of a relatively low reliance on external credit and limited exposure to “toxic” assets and also due to the quick response of the authorities."
“Participants noted that the growth outlook in the region will continue to be affected by external developments, and highlighted that the region has adopted appropriate policy measures to mitigate the impact on growth and poverty. In particular, they stressed the increase in conditional cash transfers to vulnerable segments of the population; higher infrastructure spending; and the expansion in funding for health and education programs. Participants also emphasized the beneficial impact on inflation from lower commodity prices, which has allowed greater flexibility to monetary policy in some countries to help mitigate the impact of the crisis on domestic economies. They also welcomed the backing of multilateral lenders in providing increased funding and asked for continued support."
Troops in Honduras have arrested the president ahead of a referendum on plans to change the constitution.
President Manuel Zelaya's secretary said he had been taken to an airbase outside the capital, Tegucigalpa.
Mr Zelaya, elected for a non-renewable four-year term in January 2006, wanted a vote to extend his time in office.
The referendum, due on Sunday, had been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and was also opposed by Congress and members of Mr Zelaya's own party.
A reporter for the Associated Press news agency said he had seen dozens of soldiers surround the president's house on Sunday morning and about 60 police guarding the house.
Two air force fighter jets screamed over the capital, reported Reuters news agency.
The arrest comes after President Zelaya defied a court order that he should re-instate the chief of the army, Gen Romeo Vasquez.
The president sacked Gen Vasquez late on Wednesday for refusing to help him organise a referendum.
Mr Zelaya also accepted the resignation of the defence minister.
In an interview with Spain's El Pais newspaper published on Sunday, Mr Zelaya - an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - said a planned coup attempt against him had been thwarted after the US refused to back it.
"Everything was in place for the coup and if the US embassy had approved it, it would have happened. But they did not," Mr Zelaya said.
"I'm only still here in office thanks to the United States."
Mr Zelaya's arrest took place an hour before polls were due to open.
Ballot boxes and other voting materials had been distributed by Mr Zelaya's supporters and government employees throughout the Central American country.
Rumours swirled in the Honduran media about the president's fate.
"We're talking about a coup d'etat," Rafael Alegria, a union leader and Zelaya ally, told Honduran radio Cadena de Noticias, reports AP. "This is regrettable."
He reportedly said shots had been fired during the president's arrest.
Meanwhile, Honduran radio station HRN said Mr Zelaya had been sent into exile, and possibly flown on the presidential plane to Venezuela.
On Thursday, the Honduran Congress approved plans to investigate whether the president should be declared unfit to rule.
"We have tried to avoid breaching a constitutional order and sidestep a coup," said Congressional President Roberto Micheletti, a member of Mr Zelaya's own Liberal Party.
Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had urged Honduras' leaders to "act with full respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions".
The political crisis has stoked tensions in Honduras, an impoverished coffee and banana-exporting nation of more than 7 million people.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The political situation in neighboring Honduras is volatile and unstable right now. For more details see the following four article snippets:
Congress Has Late Night Session
The Honduran Congress passed a new law on Tuesday, after an unusual late-night legislative session. The measure, called the Ley Especial que Regula el Referéndum y el Plebiscito, establishes specific restrictions on the power of the executive to call for national referendums by prohibiting plebiscites and referendums 180 days before or after a national election.
Prior to Tuesday’s development, President Zelaya had scheduled a vote for June 28 on whether to convene a constituent assembly to re-write the Honduran Constitution. Plans for the referendum provoked widespread criticism throughout Honduras, and were declared illegal by the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the Human Rights Ombudsman, but President Zelaya vowed to press forward with the vote.
Central America, Be On Guard
For a long time now, Hondurans who have been worried about their democracy and also worried about the way in which their President Manuel Zelaya is governing, see with mistrust and, more than this, with rejection, a projected constitutional reform, under this name or another, to allow the reelection of the president. Logically, not much political cunning, is needed to realize that the president, who is fully identified with the totalitarian tyranny of Fidel Castro and with arbitrary rulers in the region, led by Hugo Chávez, is trying to subvert the State’s juridical order under a democratic guise. However, this is subversion with anti-democratic orientation.
Honduran VP Talks to the UN
Vice President of Honduras, Aristides Mejia Carranza, spoke today at the United Nations General Assembly, the first day of a three-day conference on the world’s economic crisis, in which 140 countries are participating.
Carranza stated that this year, a decline in remittances, exports, and tourism have meant a reduction of economic growth for Honduras. It is at a mere two percent. Although that is better than the global average, it does little to help the Honduran economy, and may hinder the progress Honduras has made in reducing poverty during the past few years.
OAS Asked to Withdraw from Election Observations
The Organization of American States planned to send three election observers to oversee the voting on a referendum for constitutional reform, called for by President Zelaya. The Honduran Congress, however, voted unanimously to ask that they do not send observers, as their presence would indicate that the vote is actually legitimate, rather than illegal.
Congressional President Roberto Micheletti, of the Liberal Party, stated “We express to the secretary-general of the Organization of American States our profound indignation over the deployment of this mission to the country.”
Monday, June 22, 2009
The Guatemalan government is negotiating the purchase of land holding the ruins of Zaculeu, a Maya fortress that served as a trench against the advance of the Spaniards, in the northwestern province of Huehuetenango, Culture Minister Jeronimo Lancerio said.
In a statement published Saturday in the daily Prensa Libre, Lancerio said that he is personally negotiating the purchase with the family that owns the property with a complex of buildings from the post-classic Maya period.
"We want to buy this site so that it becomes property of the state and is administered by the Culture Ministry," the official said.
Lancerio did not reveal the identity of the owners nor the amount of money the state is offering to buy Zaculeu, merely stating that he hoped to wind up negotiations by 2010.
The minister said that once the state buys the land, it will invest in a museum and a handicrafts market in order to benefit the artisans of Huehuetenango.
The Zaculeu archaeological site is located some 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) from the city of Huehuetenango, capital of the like-named province, and history says that around the year 1524 it was the fortress of the Mam ethnicity where for two months their king, Kaibil Balam, dug in to hold off the advancing Spaniards.
Zaculeu influenced and was in turn influenced by the cultures of Guatemala's central region, above all Kaminal Juyu, and according to archaeological research, it was an essential post for trade with Mexico.
The name K'iche' that the archaeological site was given is related to a king named Zakuleu and was declared a Pre-Columbian Monument by government decree on April 24, 1931.
The site is made up of a series of plazas, stepped pyramids, ceremonial temples and a patio for playing ball, a display of Maya splendor.
Its buildings date to the Maya post-classic period (900 A.D. until the arrival of the Spaniards), though the city was originally settled in the 5th century, and unlike other archaeological centers, its buildings are low, flat and without decorations.
The name Zaculeu comes from the words "zac" meaning white and "uleu" meaning land, and the ruins are located on a small mesa surrounded by ravines.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Forty percent of the country, 8,200 locations, are at risk from landslides due to rain and earthquakes. Disaster relief groups are on alert and ready to respond to any emergency, but nobody wants to talk about prevention.
Enrique Molina, head of seismology at the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH), reports that geological conditions, soil composition, level of inclination of the terrain, and the moisture, result in 40 percent of the country being susceptible to landslides.
Rain and earthquakes are the main triggers of collapse. Caution is recommended for drivers who travel on the country's roads, especially in times of heavy rainfall.
"An earth tremor during the rainy season doubles the risk from mudslides and landslides due to the saturation of the soil with moisture. If the 1976 earthquake had occurred during the months of greater rainfall, the tragedy would have been much worse," explained Molina.
Another factor increasing the disaster risk is population growth, particularly when people build on slopes or sloping areas.
The areas most susceptible to landslides due to inclination of the terrain are the mountainous areas, including the volcanic areas and areas such as the Sierra de las Minas. Throughout the country there are the scars of past landslides.
The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) identified 8.200 places at risk from flooding and collapse in the country.
Juan Pablo Oliva, director of risk management for Conred, says the risk is greater this year due to the increasing magnitude of earthquakes. He stresses that the risk has always existed but the construction of human settlements in high risk areas means that each passing year increases the number of possible victims.
A report by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources reports that 64 percent of the country has a high level of soil degradation. 70 percent of the country is deforested. Each year there are between 80 million and 90 million metric tons of soil lost to erosion, 10 times the average of other countries. This is because of the activity of people and the population is doubling every 20 years.
Concepción Chiquirichapa, San Martín Sacatepéquez, and San Juan Ostuncalco are three municipalities of Quetzaltenango where large landslides are feared due to the sandy soil.
Due to deforestation, Cerro Quemado in Almolonga, Quetzaltenango, suffers constant mudslides and major landslides are feared.
The route between Zunil and Cantel is almost constantly blocked from landslides along the road.
Cerro Lec, between San Andrés Semetabaj and Panajachel, Sololá, has several recently discovered cracks and residents of nearby aldeas fear collapses.
In San Lucas Tolimán, the volcano of the same name has areas of loose soil due to intense deforestation and could slide in heavy rains.
Due to steep slopes, residents of the village Pujujil in the departmental capital fear landslides occur when the rainy season comes.
Recently, an earthquake triggered a slide at kilometer 155 of the Trans American Highway at Nahualá, which blocked the road.
Cerro Jocol in the village of Las Barrancas, San Pedro Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, is a constant threat to the people who lived through the 2003 tragedy when 22 people died during a large collapse.
In the same town, the aldea Piedra Grande is at risk from a nearby hill where a collapse killed dozens of people in 2005.
Near kilometer 133.5 of the route to Las Verapaces, saturation moisture is causing the soil surface to slide and the pavement has sunk by half a meter. The concern is that if this road collapses the Verapaces will be cut off from the capital.
Cerro Los Chorros suffered a slide last January 4th that left 34 dead. Residents are worried that it will happen again. Despite the risk, the road is still used because the other option means a 1-1/2 hour walk.
Last August, a slide on the hill at Las Casas, Cobán, buried a house.
Alejandro Maldonado, executive secretary of Conred indicates that it is working on the strengthening of embankments where it considers that collapse is most likely. Continuous studies are done where the movement of soil has occured such as La Union, Zacapa, and San Cristóbal Verapaz , Alta Verapaz.
Conred has also acquired the ability to monitor landslides by satellite. Conred also says that the mayors in areas at risk are kept informed of risk factors such as rain or floods.
Certain social organizations are of the opinion that the government has no plans to prevent or mitigate landslide disasters so we can expect the death toll to rise each year.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
All the activity you see in the sky right now is the arrival of our first true tropical wave of the season.
Unfortunately, the high over the Gulf of Mexico is moving slowly east but is still there, blocking airflows, so it's hard to say if this wave will trigger much. It doesn't have as much to work with as it should in terms of unstable air.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The rainy season in Guatemala normally begins by the first of June. This year, the start of the rains has been delayed and the country has been subjected to high temperatures. It's estimated that damage to corn and bean crops is already around 25 to 35 percent. The problem has been especially bad in the areas around Zacapa / Chiquimula.
The cause of the delay is a stationary high that has been stuck over the Gulf of Mexico. Computer models indicate that this high will finally begin to move east tomorrow. With this high out of the way, the normal circulation patterns will set in and the rains should finally begin. The prediction from INSIVUMEH is that the rains will begin on Tuesday.
If you take a look at the Maya Paradise weather page, you can see the high that's been the problem and say good-bye to the cause of our discomfort for the past two weeks:
Two towns in Guatemala have been asked by the government to close down nearly all public venues to prevent the spread of swine flu.
Health Secretary Celso Cerezo said the virus has infected 96 people in Guatemala, including 11 in the last 24 hours.
On Wednesday, Guatemala suspended all schools nationwide until at least July 1.
Cerezo said most of the cases have been reported in two small southern towns, Palin and Santa Lucia. The government recommended Friday that those towns close restaurants, bars movie, theaters, churches and other public venues until the epidemic subsides.
A magnitude 4.8 quake rattle Coban and surrounding areas at 8:15 AM this morning.
The quake's epicenter was 15 miles west of Coban, Alta Verapaz, at a depth of 41 miles.
There are no reports of damage or injury yet.
Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 14:18:23 UTC
Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 08:18:23 AM at epicenter
Location: 15.454°N, 90.536°W
Depth: 66.6 km (41.4 miles)
25 km (15 miles) W of Coban, Guatemala
90 km (55 miles) N of GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala
125 km (75 miles) ENE of Quezaltenango, Guatemala
1020 km (630 miles) ESE of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico
Friday, June 12, 2009
GUATEMALA CITY—A 12-year-old boy has become Guatemala's first fatality linked to swine flu, officials said, as the number of confirmed cases in the country rose by eight to 74.
Health Minister Celso Cerezo said late Wednesday the boy had been placed in a private hospital where a diagnosis showed he died from kidney failure, although it also confirmed he was stricken with A(H1N1), the virus threatening to spread to global pandemic status.
The government confirmed eight more cases, in five girls all age 12, two women age 21 and 31, and a 68-year-old man.
Guatemala is the eighth nation to report a death linked to swine flu. All are in the Americas and the Caribbean.
Guatemala shares a border with Mexico, the early epicenter of the swine flu outbreak.
"The A flu situation in Guatemala is categorized as an epidemic, while the global level is already a pandemic," Cerezo said.
The minister was getting ahead of the World Health Organization, which said it was consulting Thursday with its emergency committee of flu experts who could recommend the declaration of a swine flu pandemic.
Since the A(H1N1) virus was first discovered in the United States and Mexico in April, some 74 countries have reported 27,737 cases including 141 deaths to the WHO.
--French Press Agency
Thursday, June 11, 2009
GENEVA – The World Health Organization declared a swine flu pandemic Thursday — the first global flu epidemic in 41 years — as infections in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere climbed to nearly 30,000 cases.
The long-awaited pandemic announcement is scientific confirmation that a new flu virus has emerged and is quickly circling the globe. WHO will now ask drugmakers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine. The declaration will also prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus.
WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan made the announcement Thursday after the U.N. agency held an emergency meeting with flu experts. Chan said she was moving the world to phase 6 — the agency's highest alert level — which means a pandemic, or global epidemic, is under way.
"The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic in the 21st century," Chan told reporters. "The (swine flu) virus is now unstoppable."
On Thursday, WHO said 74 countries had reported 28,774 cases of swine flu, including 144 deaths. Chan described the virus as "moderate." According to WHO's pandemic criteria, a global outbreak has begun when a new flu virus begins spreading in two world regions.
The agency has stressed that most cases are mild and require no treatment, but the fear is that a rash of new infections could overwhelm hospitals and health authorities — especially in poorer countries.
Still, about half of the people who have died from swine flu were previously young and healthy — people who are not usually susceptible to flu. Swine flu is also crowding out regular flu viruses. Both features are typical of pandemic flu viruses.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Despite the alarming sound of all the developments and spread of the H1N1 virus, there is no need to become alarmed -- yet. Bear in mind that thus far, the H1N1 flu has affected far fewer people than seasonal flu does every year. It has also killed far fewer people than are killed by seasonal flu every year. The swine flu is potentially capable of becoming a big problem and what the Phase 6 declaration says is that the virus has spread throughout the world in a way that qualifies it as a pandemic, increasing the potential for it to become a major problem. But as yet it is still not a major problem.
When viewed alongside the annual cases and deaths from flu that occur every year, the H1N1 pandemic is just a small blip in the statistics. Phase 6 means that H1N1 strain, which is a more dangerous strain than seasonal flu, has demonstrated its ability to spread throughout the world's population, signifying the very real potential for it to become a big problem. It's a warning. It means that countries and their health care systems need to prepare themselves for the possibility of having to handle a large number (millions) of cases of this flu.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is on the verge of declaring the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years, but wants to ensure countries are well prepared to prevent a panic, its top flu expert said on Tuesday.
Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general, voiced concern at the sustained spread of the new H1N1 strain -- including more than 1,000 cases in Australia -- following major outbreaks in North America, where it emerged in April.
Confirmed community spread in a second region beyond North America would trigger moving to phase 6 -- signifying a full-blown pandemic -- from the current phase 5 on the WHO's 6-level pandemic alert scale.
"The situation has really evolved a lot over the past several days. We are getting really very close to knowing that we are in a pandemic situation, or I think, declaring that we are in a pandemic situation," Fukuda told a teleconference.
Fukuda said a move to phase 6 would reflect the geographic spread of the new disease.
"It does not mean that the severity of the situation has increased or that people are getting seriously sick at higher numbers or higher rates than they are right now," he said.
A decision to declare a pandemic involved more than simply making an announcement, he said. The United Nations agency had to ensure that countries were able to deal with the new situation and also handle any public reaction.
"One of the critical issues is that we do not want people to 'over-panic' if they hear that we are in a pandemic situation. That they understand, for example, that the current assessment of the situation is that this is a moderate level," Fukuda said.
The WHO and its 193 member states are working hard to prepare for a pandemic, for instance developing vaccines and building up supplies of anti-viral drugs, he said.
The disease, which has infected over 26,500 people in 73 countries, with 140 deaths, has been most severe in Mexico, which has reported the highest number of fatalities, more than 100. These include infections in otherwise healthy young people.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
AMATITLAN, Guatemala, June 4 (UPI) -- Mexican drug gangs are moving operations to Guatemala, where weak law enforcement and deep-rooted corruption provide fertile ground, officials and analysts say.
Since early 2008, organized Mexican drug gangs, including a criminal mercenary army known as Los Zetas, the armed wing of Mexico's so-called Gulf Cartel, have moved into Guatemala's northern and eastern provinces, the Los Angeles Times reports.
They're ramping up to escape Mexican President Felipe Calderon's 2 1/2 -year offensive against narcotics traffickers, which is hurting the cartel's international drug shipments, the Times says.
"They're looking for new areas," said a U.S. official who spoke with the Times on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to comment on the matter. "They need a place where they can operate with impunity."
More than 6,000 people were killed in Guatemala in 2008, with most killings linked to the drug trade, police say.
The spreading influence of Mexican traffickers has Guatemalan authorities on edge and is stirring concern in Washington that powerful drug gangs could imperil fragile Guatemala and its weak neighbor, Honduras, the Times says.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says the Zetas may be the region's "most technologically advanced, sophisticated and violent" paramilitary enforcement group.
The following is an interesting and unusual story to appear in news about Guatemala:
In the New York Times, there is an interesting story about a hydraulic analog computer from 1949 used to model the feedback loops in the economy. According to the article, 'copies of the 'Moniac,' as it became known in the United States, were built and sold to Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Ford Motor Company and the Central Bank of Guatemala, among others.' There is a cool video of the computer in operation at Cambridge University. I remember that the Instrumentation Lab at MIT still had an analog computer in its computer center in the mid-1970s. Even then, it seemed archaic, and now this form of computation is largely forgotten. With 14 machines built, it must have been one of the more successful analog computers — a supercomputer of its day. Of course, you have to wonder if it could have been used to predict our current economic difficulties.From Slashdot
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Investigators still do not know where the lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg left the documents mentioned in the video he recorded three days before his assassination. The video in which he incriminates a network of organized crime and accuses President Alvaro Colom and his wife, Gustavo Alejos, private secretary of the Presidency, two businessmen and two bankers, touched off a major controversy.
24 days after the murder of Rosenberg, the detectives dealing with the evidence that he allegedly left said: "It's like finding a needle in a haystack."
In the video, Rosenberg said that he has evidence of why the renowned businessman Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie were killed.
In the recording, he mentioned eight separate proofs to incriminate Colom, his wife, Sandra Torres, Alejos and businessman Gregorio Valdes.
Rosenberg also pointed to Jose Angel Lopez and Fernando Peña, senior executives of the Rural Development Bank (Banrural), Gerardo de Leon and, of Federation of Coffee Cooperatives of Guatemala.
"I am leaving the originals of what I'm saying so that it is not said, as has happened in other cases, that this is a conspiracy," said Rosenberg at the end of the recording.
The investigation has attempted to find the whereabouts of these documents but it is now known that they were not left with his family, or with the friends who recorded and distributed the video, nor are they at Rosenberg's business.
The big question therefore remains: where is or was the documentation mentioned in the video and who has it?
The foreign ministers participating in the 29th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) reached an agreement to rescind the suspension of Cuba that was approved in 1962.
Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Fander Falconí announced the decision. "It has been approved and by all the foreign ministers by consensus. This is very good news, reflecting the change in the times we are living in Latin America," said Falconi.
The Ecuadorian minister explained that "there is a consensus on a document that unconditionally eliminates the exclusion of Cuba that was enacted in 1962."
"Many of us were born at that time and what this generation is doing is basically amending history. Here we have a chance to build a different story," he added.
The decision was made in the evening after a special group appointed by the ministers had met for over six hours without reaching consensus.
The divergent positions were of those who were advocating a repeal of the suspension, without conditions, and those who proposed the mention of the need for Cuba to accept the commitments of democracy and human rights adopted by other members of the organization.
Monday, June 1, 2009
The Minister of Health,Celso Cerezo, has reported two more cases of influenza A (H1N1), bringing the total number of infected to 14.
The two new cases are a woman living in Petén, but who had recently traveled to Honduras. The other case is a 12 year old child living in Chinautla who was infected by a college student from Capoulliez College. The two are neighbors. The school suspended classes last week due to the infected student.
When asked about the number of schools that were closed because of the flu, Cerezo said that at the moment the only schools closed are Capoulliez College in Zone 11 and El Shaddai in Zone 16. However, it was learned that classes were also suspended at the Colegio Sagrado Corazón de El Naranjo because some students there have become ill.
The health minister added that if at any time it becomes necessary to close the public schools, the Education Minister, Ana de Molina is ready.
The last case which had been announced by the minister was a teenager of 17 who lives in Antigua Guatemala, who showed symptoms of the virus and went to the hospital in Antigua. The case was referred to the Ministry of Health to verify symptomatology and the result was positive. In this case, nobody in the family had traveled abroad.
During a press conference, Cerezo said that more cases are anticipated in the next few days. He also pointed out that cases of influenza normally spike every year during the rainy season.
Meanwhile, in statements given this morning, Vice President Rafael Espada said that influenza A is under control in the country and no state of emergency exists.
Last Friday, four other cases were reported, including an 11 year old girl from Villa Nueva, who had recently traveled to United States, another child under 6 years of age from the Colonia Nueva Monserrat, Mixco, a young man of 18, from Escuintla, who returned from Honduras last week, and a woman of 32, who is now in a hospital in Salamá, Baja Verapaz. She also had returned a few days before from Honduras. All were being administered the antiviral Tamiflu and are under surveillance, said Cerezo.
These cases are in addition to the seven that had been announced weeks ago. Another 50 people are under observation because they have had direct contact with patients who have tested positive.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Construction of Jaguar Energy's 300 megawatt, $700 million thermo plant in Guatemala could begin in the second half of this year, according to project parent Houston-based AEI.
Start of works are subject to the securing of financing and completion of other project milestones, AEI said in its 20-F form filed with US securities regulator SEC.
The project has executed an EPC contract with China Machine New Energy, and commercial operations startup is penciled in for 2H12, the form said.
Last year, distributors Deorsa and Deocsa awarded Jaguar 15-year PPAs to supply 200MW, while 75MW are expected to be sold to the Guatemalan and regional market, the form adds.
The plant site is 80km south of Guatemala City in Escuintla.
In Guatemala, AEI already boasts 234MW of thermo capacity through subsidiary Puerto Quetzal Power.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Nobel Prize Winner Gets Hassled At Bush Intercontinental Airport
by John Nova Lomax
HOUSTON, Texas - Mairead Corrigan Maguire thought the hard part was over. Along with fellow Nobel Laureates Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, American landmine activist Jody Williams, and Iranian Shirin Ebadi, she had been in Guatemala, where the women had just co-hosted a three-day conference on democracy, human rights and peace that had attracted 150 female international activists.
She was probably tired and ready to get back to Belfast, where her attempts to bring about an end to The Troubles in 1976 made her at 32 the youngest Nobel Peace Prize-winner ever. Since then, she's been given the Pacem in Terris Award by Pope John Paul II, and the United Nations selected her (along with the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Jordan's Queen Noor and a dozen or so other fellow Nobel Laureates) as an honorary board member of the International Coalition for the Decade.
Unfortunately for Maguire, her flight back home to Northern Ireland was routed through Houston, where none of that meant diddly. Federal Customs officials were far less interested in any of that than they were in a box on the back of the transit form she filled out on her flight.
"They questioned me about my nonviolent protests in USA against the Afghanistan invasion and Iraqi war," Maguire said later in a statement. "They insisted I must tick the box in the Immigration form admitting to criminal activities."
Maguire was detained for two hours -- grilled once, fingerprinted, photographed, and grilled again. She missed her flight home. She was only released after an organization she helped found -- the Nobel Women's Initiative -- started kicking up a fuss.
Customs spokesperson Paula Rivera confirmed the incident to Hair Balls: "When international passengers are asking for access to the United States, we rely on them to accurately complete their forms for us. If those entry forms are not completed accurately it would be a reason to have a person referred for a secondary examination."
Because of privacy issues, Rivera wouldn't tell us what it was that Maguire failed to disclose, but reading between both the official lines and Maguire's statement, it's safe to say that Maguire failed to admit to having been arrested in the United States. In May 2008, Maguire and 60 others were arrested for crossing a police line at a non-violent prayer protest outside of the White House.
Maguire eventually admitted she was arrested, apparently, but remains defiant that she committed no crime.
"I am not a criminal, my nonviolent acts in USA opposing the war on Afghanistan, and Iraq, are acts of conscience and together with millions of USA citizens, and world citizens, I refuse to be criminalized for opposing such illegal policies," her statement read. "Every citizen has a right, indeed a moral obligation, to nonviolent civil disobedience in the face of illegal and unjust laws, especially war. If anyone is to be criminalized for these illegal and immoral policies it is the USA Government, who must be held accountable before the International community for these acts of crime against humanity."
She added that she was disappointed that this happened in "Obama's America." But then again, she was at Bush Airport, so maybe she should have expected this shabby treatment.
And hell, at least we didn't tear-gas her and clip her with a rubber bullet like the Israelis did two years ago.
See original story in The Houston Press
Friday, May 29, 2009
The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) reported today that the situation in Izabal still under supervision by the rescue team dispatched immediately after the 7.1 earthquake which struck yesterday morning off the coast of Honduras.
The strong tremor caused damage in several communities in Izabal. There were no fatalities but 18 houses are uninhabitable and 199 sustained moderate damage.
According to Sergio Cabañas of Conred, assessments are being made on a house to house basis to look for structural damage in the communities of Quetzalito and Media Luna.
After inspecting the damaged homes, structural engineers and geologists reported that the damage to homes in Izabal was caused by a phenomenon known as liquefaction, where soil and subsurface material that is saturated with water, when agitated by an earthquake, turn into mud making houses collapse.
Authorities reported today an early estimate that approximately U.S. $100 million in damage was caused by the magnitude 7.1 quake that struck early Thursday morning. Six persons were killed.
Marco Burgos of the Comisión Permanente de Contingencias (Copeco) , stated that this was a preliminary estimate and that damage assessments were still underway, particularly at the dock of Puerto Cortés where something serious might happen."
According to Burgos, major damage occurred on the premises of the National Port Company (ENP) in Puerto Cortes.
"The pier is 50 percent operational and inspections are being done by divers to see if there is damage to infrastructure," he explained.
Other major damage occurred in the La Democracia Bridge on the River Ulúa in El Progreso, Yoro Department, which fell into the river. Reconstruction will cost 20 to 25 million dollars.
"Also the levees were broken in 12 places and that it is serious, especially now that we are in winter," the officer lamented.
Sula Valley, the most productive in the country, with the thriving financial capital of San Pedro Sula, is protected by concrete retaining walls to control flooding from the Ulúa and Chamelecón rivers.
After Hurricane Mitch, which hit the country in 1998, the rivers of Honduras are loaded with sediment and have very little capacity to handle large runoff. When it rains, the rivers flood and retaining walls have been built along the banks of the rivers to prevent flooding, especially in the flatlands of the valley in La Lima and El Progreso.
"The pier, the bridge, and the retaining walls have suffered damage but also private companies have suffered losses, such as the hotels Copantl Sula and el Sula. Also the court building at San Pedro Sula will have to be rebuilt, and eight colonial churches were damaged," said deploró Burgos.
Burgos added that work has already begun to repair damage, starting with removing landslides that fell on roads, and a Bailey Bridge is being considered in La Democracia.
The epicenter of the quake was 63 km north of Roatan and was felt in the neighboring countries of Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) today reported 2,488 persons in Izabal injured in the 7.1 quake that struck off the coast of Honduras early Thursday morning. This is 562 more than the previously reported count.
177 homes sustained varying degrees of damage.
The latest report from Conred states that 95 homes have minor damage, 58 moderate damage, and and 24 were destroyed or sustained severe damage. The damage is concentrated in the communities of Las Vegas, Quebrada Seca, Santa María del Mar, Suite Tres, Media Luna, La Laguna, Mojanales y El Quetzalito.
According to Conred, water systems in Izabal were damaged so service has been irregular.
Assistance has not been at the levels stated by authorities. At least 14 families are housed in the village school in Aldea Media Luna. They have not received food and authorities have only provided 120 bottles of drinking water and sponges, according to Edvin Cordón, president of Consejo Comunitario de Desarrollo (Cocodes).
"There were a thousand promises, but so far we have not received anything at all, only water that is insufficient for the number of people housed," said Cord.
He added that the task has been left to the community, but people do not have enough resources to feed so many.
David de Leon, spokesman for Conred, confirmed this morning that there were problems with the electric grid serving Izabal but that power has been restored.
The Education Minister, Ana de Molina, said that as a preventive measure classes were suspended yesterday and today, and are expected to resume on Monday. All schools in Izabal are being inspected for damage.
Geneva, Switzerland - The number of cases of people infected worldwide with influenza virus AH1N1 now stands at 15,510 in 53 countries. 99 have died, according to the latest statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
This represents an increase of about 2,000 cases since Wednesday.
The United States has the greatest number infected at 7,927, followed by Mexico at 4,910, and Canada with 1,118.
Japan has reported 364 cases, United Kingdom 203, Chile 165, Australia 147, Spain 107, and Panama 103, according to the WHO.
In Latin America, other countries with confirmed cases are Argentina 37, Costa Rica 33, Ecuador 32, Peru 31, Colombia 17, El Salvador 11, Brazil 10, and Cuba 4.
Guatemala has registered 2 cases, the Dominican Republic 7 cases, while Honduras and Uruguay have one confirmed case each.
Mexico reports the largest number of fatalities from the flu with 85, while the United States reports 11, Canada 2, and one in Costa Rica.
Six years after being adopted, the Law on National Languages is still not enforced, several organizations reported today.
During a forum organized by the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) it was pointed out that since May 23, 2003 no government has shown any willingness to put the law into practice.
The law requires, among other things, that services be provided in the Mayan, Garifuna and Xinca languages, and encourages and promotes the use of those languages. In addition, Article 26 states that the president is responsible for issuing regulations for enforcing the law 90 days after the law took effect.
Martín Sacalxot, an indigenous attorney with the PDH said that "the current president has had four drafts of regulations in his hands and all have been discarded."
Presidential spokesman Fernando Barillas said that he had no knowledge of the subject but stated that the Ministry of Culture would decide the matter.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Honduras on Thursday, killing at least five people, knocking down flimsy homes and causing damage in neighbouring Guatemala.
Officials expected the death toll to rise as reports came in from poor villages and towns in the mountainous area around Honduras' Caribbean coast.
The offshore quake damaged buildings across the north of Honduras, a poor country of 7 million people, and briefly triggered a tsunami alert for Central America's Caribbean coast.
A 7.1 magnitude quake can cause serious damage over a wide area.
Four children, aged 3 to 15, died when their houses collapsed after the quake struck at 2:24 a.m. (9:24 a.m. British time) near the resort island of Roatan.
"They were all asleep. Most of them died crushed," said Randolfo Funes, an official at Honduras' civil protection agency who said a fifth person died. "There will be many more dead."
Security guard Pedro Ramirez, 52, was in his truck outside an office building in the capital of Tegucigalpa.
"I felt the car rock and I started to hear little bits of debris from the building next door hitting the roof," he said. "It was frightening because it was shaking a lot. I've never felt anything like it."
The earthquake hit 39 miles (64 km) northeast of Roatan, the biggest of the country's three picturesque Bay Islands, where snorkelers and divers come to see dolphins and a big coral reef. It had a relatively shallow depth of 6.2 miles (10 km). Earthquakes close to the earth's surface are often more powerful than deeper tremors.
On Roatan, rescue officials said the quake had knocked out power and caused minor damage to buildings.
Houses also collapsed in Puerto Cortes and Santa Barbara, where the ceiling of an old colonial church caved in, while fires broke out in the northern business city of San Pedro Sula.
The tremor sent people running into the street and the power was cut in some areas.
Honduras will temporarily shut down the port of Puerto Cortes, where it ships 80 percent of its exports like coffee, industrial goods and bananas.
"There is damaged machinery and equipment," said Roberto Babum, head of the national port authority.
But a major coffee producer reported no damaged to crops and Canada's Yamana Gold said its mine in Honduras, the country's largest, was not affected.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami watch for Honduras, Guatemala and Belize, but lifted it half an hour later.
The quake knocked out electricity in two towns in eastern Guatemala and damaged roads isolated another town in the area.
A quake lasting about one minute shook the Rio Dulce area this morning, May 28, 2009 at 3:24:45 AM, awakening residents and tossing water from swimming pools.
Electricity shut down during the quake and was restored immediately after the shaking stopped. A few minutes later, power failed again and was restored later in the morning.
I am not aware of any damage reports from Rio Dulce.
The Mag 7.1 quake struck under the sea north of Honduras, near the island of Roatan. It was centered at 16.729°N, 86.212°W, 75 miles (125 km) NNE of La Ceiba, Honduras. Horizontal location error, 4.3 km (2.7 miles). Depth 10 km (6.2 miles).
Monday, May 25, 2009
The Ministerio Publico has allegations and complaints against at least 50 mayors, former mayors, and council members for crimes such as embezzlement, fraud, blackmail, money laundering, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, making threats, and more.
Among the communities that are being investigated are Saint Martin Jilotepéque, Dolores, Petén, San Antonio Huista, Huehuetenango, Jutiapa, Coban, Alta Verapaz, San Pedro La Laguna, Solola, Joyabaj, Quiché, San Jose La Arada, Chiquimula, and Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango. There are also actions against municipalities in the department of Guatemala, San Raymundo, San Pedro Ayampuc, Petapa, and Chinautla, among others.
The complaints are being processed by prosecutors in the divisions of Administrative Offenses Against Corruption, Money Laundering, and district agencies, among others. The number of actions could increase after the Controller General of Accounts presents the results of audits conducted in all communities later this month.
"Among the most common abnormalities are pay for work that was not completed, forged documents that allegedly prove the amount of work done, payment of social security contributions and income taxes with public funds, and funds simply missing from the municipal coffers," said Omar Contreras, Prosecutor against Corruption.
Other prosecutors reported that one of the major difficulties in prosecution is that by the time the crime is discovered much time has passed and then judges take months to reach a decision to issue an arrest warrant.
Thus far in the process, prosecutors have managed to get 30 arrest warrants issued against individuals associated with these case. More are pending and others are in the preliminary stages.
Prosecutors are aware of cases involving Q10 million to Q12 million and the greatest delay in the process occurs in the court system.
In the past, such crimes usually go unpunished. By law, public officials enjoy automatic immunity from prosecution. That immunity can be removed by a court but the courts have traditionally been very reluctant to remove it even when presented with strong evidence that a crime has been committed.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
A photo group/pool for great photos of Guatemala has been created on Flickr.
Photos in this group must be related to Guatemala, its people, landscape, flowers, foods, birds, animals, insects, weather, natural phenomena, and so forth.
Come take a look and if you have photos that are appropriate for the group, please participate.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Ormat Technologies Announces $42 Million Senior Debt Financing for the Amatitlan Geothermal Power Plant in Guatemala
RENO, Nev., May 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: ORA - News) announced today that on May 18, 2009, its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ortitlan Limitada, signed a Note Purchase Agreement with TCW Global Project Fund II, Ltd., an energy and infrastructure investment vehicle managed by TCW Energy and Infrastructure Group (part of TCW Asset Management Company), providing for the issuance of up to $42 million to refinance Ormat's investment in the 20 MW Amatitlan geothermal power plant located in Amatitlan, Guatemala.
The closing of the sale and purchase of the Note under the Note Purchase Agreement and the payment of the Note purchase price proceeds to Ortitlan Limitada were consummated on May 21, 2009. The Note is scheduled to mature on June 15, 2016.
Ormat initially financed the development and construction of the project, as well as the drilling of wells, from internal funding sources. The power plant currently generates approximately 17MW and is scheduled to reach its design capacity towards the end of the second quarter of 2009, upon the connection of an additional well that was recently drilled.
"We are pleased with the competitive terms of the financing that we have secured for this power plant," commented Dita Bronicki, Chief Executive Officer of Ormat. "Guatemala in general, and the Amatitlan resource in particular, have potential for additional geothermal energy production. The terms of the financing that we have secured are typical non-recourse project finance, but enable us to proceed with the development of phase II expansion of the project in coordination with TCW once we determine that the resource can support it."
GUATEMALA CITY – An anonymous informant has provided authorities with the names of three suspects in the May 10 murder of a prominent attorney who said in a posthumously released video that he feared Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom was planning to kill him, the national ombudsman said Thursday.
Sergio Morales told reporters that the informant sent a document to his office indicating that six people were behind the slaying of Rodrigo Rosenberg.
“In the document, the witness identified three of the six alleged killers by their names and surnames,” Morales said.
The ombudsman said he delivered the report Wednesday to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which is investigating Rosenberg’s slaying with assistance from the FBI.
Morales said his office is trying to locate the anonymous witness in order to provide the individual with police protection, since given the delicate nature of the case his or her life could be at risk.
Ten days after the release of the video in which Rosenberg can be seen accusing Colom, first lady Sandra Torres, presidential aide Gustavo Alejos and several others of plotting to kill him, the document represents the first concrete lead in the case.
Rosenberg said on the video that his life was at risk because he had evidence of the involvement of the president and his associates in the April 14 slayings of businessman Khalil Musa and his daughter, Marjorie.
Musa, recently appointed by Colom to the board of the public-private Banrural development bank, was killed for refusing to cover up “illegal, multi-million-dollar transactions being carried out day after day” at the financial institution, Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg’s murder and the video have touched off one of the worst political crises of the past decade in Guatemala and polarized society into two camps: mostly middle- and upper-class protesters who are demanding the center-left head of state step down and poor demonstrators who support Colom.
“I haven’t killed anyone. I’m not a drug trafficker and I’ve never made shady deals against the opposition. The truth about Rosenberg’s murder will be revealed; the truth about the preparation of the video and the hatching of this plot also will be discovered,” Colom told Efe last week in an interview.
Colom, Guatemala’s first left-of-center president in more than 50 years, also said that only over his “dead body” will he leave office before the end of his term.
Latin American Tribune
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The head of the health department of San Marcos, Miguel Ángel Santizo, today declared a red alert due to the detection of a positive case of influenza A (H1N1) in a 75 year old woman, a native of San Jose Ojetenam.
The patient confirmed is being cared for in a hospital in Quetzaltenango and is being kept in isolation.
As a result of the red alert, breaks, holiday leave, and vacations are canceled for the 500 health care workers in San Marcos. The move was ordered by Health Minister Celso Cerezo.
The Health Ministry also sent 300 doses of the antiviral Tamiflu to the department.
Meanwhile, the head of the regional health department reported that at the National Hospital of Malacatán, there are 10 suspected but unconfirmed cases.
Guatemala City and Mexico City - The scandal surrounding accusations that Guatemala's president orchestrated the murder of a prominent lawyer is intensifying – deepening divisions in a country still recovering from a 36-year civil war. It is also, according to some analysts, handing the country its greatest threat to democracy since that war ended in 1996.
Tens of thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets since a video emerged in which Rodrigo Rosenberg, the lawyer, accused Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and three others of murder and corruption.
Mr. Rosenberg, who was shot dead while riding his bike on May 10, recorded the video days earlier, saying in it that: "If you are watching this, it is because I was murdered by President Alvaro Colom, with the help of Gustavo Alejos," the president's secretary.
Mr. Colom denies any involvement and says the protests are politically motivated. His critics maintain that they are not out to topple any president but merely are seeking the truth.
On Monday, they presented a petition to Congress signed by more than 35,000 Guatemalans that calls for Congress to strip Colom of his prosecutorial immunity.
The scandal comes as Guatemala is threatened by rising levels of lawlessness, with street gangs terrorizing residents and drug traffickers taking over wide swaths of the country.
"This is a crisis. When the people lose confidence in the authorities, what comes next is ungovernability and with it more corruption and violence," says Mario Polanco, director of the human rights organization Mutual Support Group in Guatemala City.
Vast right-wing conspiracy?
Colom, the nation's first leftist president in 50 years, says the scandal is a right-wing political conspiracy designed to bring down his government.
His administration has challenged the traditional power brokers, including former military officials. Earlier this year, he agreed to open a police archive that details information on left-leaning dissidents abducted and killed during the country's civil war.
Guatemala's past has been marred by a series of military coups. When the war ended, politically motivated murder did not. Eleven years ago, for example, Catholic Bishop Juan Gerardi was bludgeoned to death after delivering a damning report on abuses committed by the state during the war.
Today's accusations "have created the greatest political crisis for this democracy, because never before has a democratically elected president been accused of murder," the Prensa Libre newspaper said in an editorial.
Video details money-laundering scheme
In the video, Rosenberg says that Colom, the first lady, and two others were involved in a money-laundering scheme that diverted public funds to dummy organizations that could be accessed for personal gain and by drug traffickers. Rosenberg also alleged in the video that a powerful businessman, Khalil Musa, was killed with his daughter in April because he refused to take part in the scheme. Rosenberg represented him.
Although Rosenberg mentions documents to support his claims, they have not surfaced. "We know nothing about any documents that he was talking about," says Rosenberg's nephew Andres Rodas. "He kept the family out of it because he did not want to put us in danger."
Colom – as well as the three others named in the video – has repeatedly denied the accusations and said that he has no reason to step down, even temporarily.
But, if the scandal escalates, it could threaten to undermine his presidency, says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. "He is in real trouble right now," says Mr. Birns. "The case against him is very formidable, and he hasn't attempted to come forth with an explanation that fair-minded people could see as a possibility. There is no explanation for why someone would commit suicide to get back at him."
Dueling protests reveal 'two Guatemalas'
Demonstrators took to the street daily last week to call for Colom to step down. They dressed in white and carried signs calling Colom an "assassin."
The protests were organized by wealthy and middle-class Guatemalans and students from the city's right-leaning private universities. One of the organizers, Javier Ogarrio, says that Rosenberg was acting in the interest of the country.
"We have lived with so much violence and corruption here," Mr. Ogarrio says. "We have to continue what he started."
The poor and mostly indigenous rural population forms the base of Colom's political support – and many have come out in protest to support him. "He is the only president that has given us anything, and they don't like that," said local resident Julieta Espinoza at a rally last week. "These are all lies against him."
Allegations threaten to further polarize the country. "What you see are the two classes in distinctly different demonstrations," says Anita Isaacs, a professor of political science at Haverford College in Pennsylvania who was in Guatemala City to observe the protests. "This has exposed the rift between the two Guatemalas."
The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a United Nations-backed body formed to probe the country's growing organized crime problem, has been asked to investigate. The FBI will also investigate.
Chiquita Brands International Inc. touted its corporate responsibility initiatives at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders, including the construction of 1,850 new housing units for banana workers in Honduras and Guatemala and a water-recycling initiative that saved 576,000 gallons in Latin America.
“We are doing great work that no other player in the industry is doing in either bananas or salads,” said Fernando Aguirre, CEO of the Cincinnati-based produce company.
Shareholders had no questions and the agenda was light for Chiquita’s annual meeting, which was held at the company’s Fifth Street headquarters downtown. Shareholders elected the company-nominated slate of nine directors and ratified PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC as its independent auditor, affirming a selection made by Chiquita after a competitive process last May.
Aguirre said Chiquita’s financial objectives are to secure profitable growth from the sale of bananas and other fresh fruits and vegetables, with a mix of new products and expanded distribution channels. He said the company would use free cash flow to pay down debt and will improve profit margins in its Fresh Express salad business by 3 to 4 percentage points.
“When we bought Fresh Express in 2005 we bought a company that was delivering about a 6 percent margin and it is our intention to get back to that level,” he said.
Aguirre described Chiquita’s corporate responsibility initiatives “an area of increasing importance” to consumers. He said the company has worked with the Rain Forest Alliance on reforestation and the using ground cover in ways that reduce pesticide use. At Chiquita’s Latin American packing stations, the company has reduced water usage by 96 percent.
“If we implemented this water recycling system in all our Chiquita-owned packing stations, we would save the equivalent of 2,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools or enough water for 15,400 families per year,” Aguirre said. “That is a huge improvement that I haven’t heard any other company claim.”
Chiquita (NYSE: CQB) is a marketer and distributor of fresh and packaged produce in Europe and North America.
GUATEMALA CITY (AFP)--Guatemalan opposition activists handed a petition of some 30,000 signatures to Congress Monday in a bid to impeach President Alvaro Colom over a scandal set off by the killing of a lawyer.
Before his death, lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg recorded a video saying that if he was killed, the president and his aides would be responsible.
The tape was released the day after the 47-year-old was shot dead on May 10, setting off a political scandal that has shaken up the Central American country coming more than a decade after the end of its civil war.
Colom has denied involvement in the killing, which sparked mass protests.
Opposition activists targeted the private secretary of the presidency, Gustavo Alejos, and the first lady Sandra Torres - who are both also accused in the video - in their petition Monday.
"If we don't get a reply in eight days, we'll continue with peaceful protests through a national strike," said Luis Pedro Alvarez, one of the group's leaders.
Tens of thousands took to the streets Sunday in the country of more than 13 million, demanding justice on either side in the case.
The U.S. deputy undersecretary for Latin America, David Robinson, was to meet Colom in Guatemala Monday, according to the presidency. Guatemalan officials sought support for the president in Washington last week.
The Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries Monday expressed support for Colom and Guatemala's government in a statement.
Organization of American States Secretary-general Jose Miguel Insulza was due Thursday in Guatemala to discuss the crisis.
A senior U.S. official visited Guatemala on Monday to show support for President Alvaro Colom, who has been facing public protest due to alleged involvement in a lawyer's murder, news reports said.
Colom restated his innocence of all charges at a meeting with U.S. Undersecretary of State for Latin America David Robinson, a Guatemala government spokesman told reporters Monday.
Colom has already received support from the Organization of American States following the accusation, made by the slain lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg in a posthumous video, that the president had ordered the murder.
In Guatemala, however, the scandal has been growing and exposed divisions between the urban rich and the rural and working class voters who voted for Colom.
Guatemala's legislature on Monday received a petition signed by over 35,000 citizens seeking to lift the president's immunity, the first step in a possible prosecution.
Roberto Alejos, head of Guatemala's legislature, promised that he would call the party leaders in the parliament to make the petition known to them "the same day" and that it would then go onto a plenary session of the legislature.
According to the constitution, it is the Supreme Court that can demand stripping a president of immunity once sufficient evidence is brought in, Alejos told media, adding that this will then go to the legislature for a so-called "political judgment."
The major evidence implicating Colon is a video in which Rosenberg, who was gunned down on May 10 while riding his bike, claimed he would soon be murdered because he helped clients who had refused to cooperate in the government corruption and money-laundering scheme at development bank Banrural.
Colom has ordered the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a UN panel set up in 2007 to clean up corruption, to investigate the matter.
On Sunday, the center of Guatemala City was blockaded by rival demonstrations with middle- and upper-class protestors dressed in white demanding Colom leave and working class and rural Guatemalans demonstrating to support the president.
US-based developers Alekson Development Group are looking to build a new luxury resort in Guatemala.
Working in association with Group West Companies, Alekson is looking at the UNESCO World Heritage city of Antigua Guatemala or Peten, located next to the Maya site of Tikal, as likely locations of the resort, which will be the first of its Luxuriant Masterpiece Collection.
The Luxuriant Masterpiece Collection brand will integrate 'ultra-luxury' hospitality services, casinos, top quality cuisine, spas, eco-wellness and fitness programs and celebrity signature golf courses.
The company said it chose Guatemala for its "diversity of landscapes and rich culture, as well as its proximity to the US". Details: luxuriantworldresorts.com
Saturday, May 16, 2009
By Sarah Grainger
GUATEMALA CITY, May 15 (Reuters) - Guatemala's president said on Friday powerful enemies are behind a scandal about claims he ordered the murder of a prominent lawyer, as his government cracked down on military abuses and drug gangs.
President Alvaro Colom has tried to prosecute former military officials linked to massacres during the country's 1960-1996 civil war and at the same time is clamping down on drug cartels operating in the country with dozens of arrests.
"Opening the all the military files from the war was almost impossible but I did it," Colom told Reuters in an interview.
"There is a war we are fighting against different drug traffickers. We have made a lot of changes and some are causing anger," he said.
Colom was plunged into crisis this week when a videotape surfaced accusing him of ordering a murder, misusing government funds and turning a blind eye to drug money transactions at the local development bank Banrural.
Lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg, who represented a well-known businessman also killed this year, was gunned down in Guatemala City on Sunday. The next day a pre-recorded statement was delivered to Guatemalan media in which Rosenberg warned he might be killed and accused Colom of ordering the hit.
"It's a conspiracy and we still haven't found out who's at the heart of it, but we are looking," Colom said.
The video and written statement from Rosenberg also accused Colom's wife and his private secretary of crimes.
Se the rest of the story on Reuters AlertNet
Friday, May 15, 2009
U.S. officials have confirmed to The Miami Herald that the FBI has joined the investigation of a murdered Guatemalan lawyer who — in a postmortem video — accused President Alvaro Colom of ordering his death.
U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland said the FBI sent one agent to Guatemala to assist in the investigation into Rodrigo Rosenberg's murder.
The case has shaken a nation with a long history of corruption and political conflict and a democracy still in its infancy, 13 years after the end of a bloody civil war.
"This is the biggest political scandal in decades," said Marco Antonio Barahona, director of political research for the Guatemalan think-tank Association of Investigation and Social Studies. "Whether or not it will cause Colom to resign – it's too early to say. But the allegations have motivated the public to act. And that could be powerful."
Here's the latest on the swine flu:
15 May 2009 -- As of 06:00 GMT, 15 May 2009, 34 countries have officially reported 7520 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection.
Mexico has reported 2446 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 60 deaths. The United States has reported 4298 laboratory confirmed human cases, including three deaths. Canada has reported 449 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Costa Rica has reported eight laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Argentina (1), Australia (1), Austria (1), Belgium (1), Brazil (8), China (4), Colombia (10), Cuba (3), Denmark (1), El Salvador (4), Finland (2), France (14), Germany (12), Guatemala (3), Ireland (1), Israel (7), Italy (9), Japan (4), Netherlands (3), New Zealand (7), Norway (2), Panama (40), Poland (1), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (3), Spain (100), Sweden (2), Switzerland (1), Thailand (2), and the United Kingdom (71).
WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus.
Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travelers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases, including influenza.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
GUATEMALA - Police today arrested Jean Ramses Anleu Fernández, a computer technician accused of having promoted a financial panic on the social network Twitter.
Last Tuesday, he made a comment where he called for people to remove funds from the Rural Development Bank (Banrural), after hearing the statements made in the video recorded by the lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg before he was assassinated.
Jean Anleu Fernández, known on the micro-blogging network Twitter as "Jeanfer", was arrested today at his home in Zone 8 in Guatemala City at the request of the Ministry of Public Banks. Police also seized his computer.
The prosecutor Genaro Pacheco told reporters that Anleu admitted to having made the commentary on the social network.
Anleu Fernández wrote on Tuesday, a Twitter post (Tweet) which stated: “Primera acción real, sacar el pisto de Banrural, Quebrar al banco de los corruptos” (The first real action, pull the money out of Banrural, break the bank of the corrupt.) And he added the keyword #escandalogt which is used on Twitter to mark posts related to the Rosenberg case.
The comment made by "Jeanfer" is one of many that have circulated on the social networks as an expression of rejection against the bank that the murdered lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg mentioned in the video as "a den of thieves, murderers and drug traffickers"
Like many countries, Guatemala has a law that makes it a crime to "cause a financial panic by producing, reproducing or disseminating by any means or communication system, false or inaccurate information which undermines the confidence of customers, users, depositors or investors in an institution subject to supervision and inspection the Superintendency of Banks."
The same Banking Superintendency said days ago that Banrural enjoys full liquidity and stability and called for users to avoid being surprised by malicious communications.
Edgar Barquin, Superintendent of Banks, said last Tuesday that action should be taken against those who disseminate press releases that harm the stability of banks. Anleu has become the first detainee for the crime of financial panic although Banrural is not the first bank to have been the object of negative commentary that could cause financial panic. Banco G&T Continental, BAM, and Banco Industrial have been targeted in the past by negative commentary.
Capturing Anleu is already a hot topic of discussion on the social networks of the Internet, the same networks that have managed a series of protests in Guatemala City calling for the resignation of President Alvaro Colom and his removal from office pending the clarification of the assassination of Rosenberg.
This case is reminiscent of the Korean blogger, Park Dae-sung, who was arrested in January of this year and charged with causing financial panic.
For months, under his user name "Minerva" he posted criticisms of the South Korean government's monetary policies and predicted a collapse. His predictions turned out to be correct but he was arrested and charged with having caused the economic crisis. He was cleared of all charges in April.