Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spanish Businessmen Seek Opportunities

A delegation of Spanish businessmen yesterday began an official visit to Guatemala to explore business opportunities in 2009. Alberto Díaz Gold, an adviser to the Foreign Trade Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madrid, said that 18 representatives of Spanish companies are involved in this business mission, which also visited Honduras and Costa Rica.

Among the sectors of interest to the Iberian companies are engineering and consulting, industrial equipment, construction materials, books, furnishings and accessories for vehicles.

The businessmen also met with members of the Ministry of Economy, a delegation of the European Union, and the Central American Economic Integration Secretariat (SIEC).

Silvia Carolina Tamayac, general manager of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala, explained that in this round, two companies active in the consulting and construction materials businesses could confirm investments in the country.

The mission also held a meeting with Vice President Rafael Espada, to address trade issues.

Rotavirus On the Rise

An increase in rotavirus cases has been recorded in most hospitals and health areas of the country. In Baja Verapaz, where a girl died recently from rotavirus, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) triggered a red alert.

Since last Wednesday, Conred and paramedics have been to hospitals in Salamá, Cubulco, and San Miguel Chicaj Rabinal to bring supplies. Supplies detergent, water, disposable diapers, bottles, and cleaning and hygiene equipment. The paramedic staff is composed of Army nurses.

In Jutiapa, Dr. Hector Juarez explained that the increased cases were recorded since January 15th in the National Hospital, but increased last week and this week.

Anita Teo is an epidemiologist who studied 50 cases of children under 5 years with diarrhea. 36 were positive for rotavirus. Of these, 10 were reported last January, and the rest in the last two weeks.

Oscar Escobar, director of the hospital, advised parents not to give home remedies for sick children, but bring them to the hospital.

In Quiché, Solomon Delgado, director of the hospital of the town, reported that the municipalities in which more cases have been reported are the departmental capital with 15, and Chichicastenango with seven.

In Quetzaltenango, the number of patients rose to 53. 21 of which were treated at the Centro Salud and the remainder in the Western Regional Hospital (HRO). Salvador Soto, director of the health center, said that of the 147 known cases of diarrhea, 21 were confirmed as rotavirus.

Oliver Martinez, epidemiologist of the Department of Health, explained that rotavirus generates epidemics during the cold season.

Guatemala Warns Hague Conference about Phony Adoptions

The Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA) de Guatemala in Guatemala has asked the Hague Conference to warn all the countries of the world not to be fooled by false promises of easy adoptions of Guatemalan children promoted by the mafias engaged in these practices.

Elizabeth de Larios, president of CNA, said that "in response to that request, the Hague Conference has already notified all the countries not to be fooled by the groups who engage in these activities."

According to De Larios, the request was made after several cases in which unidentified persons promoted in several countries "offers" to handle quickly the adoption of Guatemalan children to foreign families. "They say (to foreigners wishing to adopt) that they can easily obtain Guatemalan nationality and after that, a couple of months, they may adopt a child without any problem, which is not true," said the official.

Since the middle of last year, the CNA has suspended international adoptions while putting legal procedures in order to ensure compliance with the Adoption Act, which governs these proceedings. This law, which was approved by the Guatemalan congress in December 2007, aims at modernizing the processes of adoption of children of Guatemala, which was considered by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, as the number one country in the world of adoptions, in relation to its population.

Prior to this law taking effect, the "business" of illegal adoptions in Guatemala generated more than US $200 million a year and gave up for adoption more than 5,000, 90 percent to U.S. couples, according to reports from humanitarian organizations.

Colom Condemns U.S. Embargo on Cuba

Álvaro Colom Caballeros, president of the Republic of Guatemala, condemned the economic blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba for almost 50 years, after he arrived in Havana on Sunday night in response to an invitation by President Raúl Castro.

"The blockade continues to be unjust; it is anachronistic and it needs to end. The whole of Latin America supports that," Colom said.

The Guatemalan president was received at José Martí International Airport by José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, Political Bureau member and minister of public health. Colom expressed his satisfaction at initiating this visit, his first since occupying the presidency.

In a brief exchange with the press, Colom also said that he had brought with him the Order of the Quetzal, the highest distinction in his country, for leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz.