Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tigo Internet in Rio Dulce Appears to be Fixed

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

Coast Guard cutter makes drug bust off Guatemala

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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Charges Ordered Dropped Against Twitter user Jean Anleu

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

Few Guatemalans Blame Colom for Murder

(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."

Polling Data

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%
Others 11%
Not sure 60%

Source: CID-Gallup
Methodology: Interviews with 1,213 Guatemalan adults, conducted from Jun. 5 to Jun. 15, 2009. Margin of error is 2.8 per cent.

International criminal courts: no precedent for individual reparations

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."


Neighbors trade embargo on Honduras ends

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.

Source: Xinhua

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Military prevents return of ousted Honduran president

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.

BREAKING: Ousted Honduran leader's plane due to land

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.

Military ordered to turn back Zelaya's jet

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduras braced for confrontation Sunday as ousted President Manuel Zelaya 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.

See the full story here.

5.0 Mag Quake in El Salvador Today

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

Immigrants in US are asking for money from home

(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.