Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lowest Temperature this Year in Guatemala City

Last night, the low temperature in Guatemala City reached 7 degrees C, the lowest so far this year. This results from the cold front that brought winds and a thunderstorm to Rio Dulce, and cool conditions are expected to continue through Thursday.

The lowest temperature in the country was recorded at Quetzaltenango, at -4 degrees C. In Coban and Santa Cruz del Quiché the thermometer registered 8 degrees C.

The cold front was reported in a previous story here.

Ceremonial ashes have tropical roots

Ever wonder where the ash that's smeared on foreheads for Ash Wednesday comes from? Palm fronds saved from the previous Palm Sunday.

Ever wonder where the palm fronds come from? Increasingly, Mexico and Guatemala, thanks to a program administered by a university in an utterly untropical part of the world: Minnesota.

Eco-Palms is a program developed by the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management at the University of Minnesota. Dean Current, program director, said the idea is to foster sustainable production of palms and economic development opportunities for Mexican and Guatemalan communities.

Fronds and stems used year-round in floral arrangements, and for Palm Sunday, are shipped to customers in the United States, Canada and Europe as part of the environmental cooperation initiative sponsored by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Read the rest of the story at the Post and Courier

Commercial Future Bright in Peten

Coban, Alta Verapaz, is developing its economy with over 3,400 businesses four shopping centers, while the central area of Peten, comprising Flores, San Benito, and Santa Elena, are seeking new horizons to increase tourism.

National parks and archaeological sites in the Peten attract thousands of visitors each year, patronizing 28 hotels and support more than 5,000 businesses in the area.

Meanwhile, residents of Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and other municipalities, although disorderly in their development, strengthen their communities and economies through trade and industry. They have built commercial complexes that include shops, restaurants, cinemas, and recreation.

The Imperial City of Charles V is the business center of Coban. Authorities and traders recognize that business has developed on a large scale, albeit in a disorganized fashion.

Economist Édgar Pape Yalibat believes that in recent years an economy "of dubious provenance" has arisen, which has affected small and medium enterprises. The mayor of this town, Leonel Chacon, said that an urban project that will allow the reorganization of the city.

Jaime Sobalvarro, former president of the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce (GCC) in the Petén, says that a commercial development program must be based on organization because that is the starting point for businesses and it encourages investment. That fact has not yet been fully recognized by authorities. In Flores, San Benito, and Santa Elena, Petén, only about 5,000 businesses are supported by capital from outside of the department.

For now, San Benito is one of the most developed cities of that department, and Santa Elena is growing fast.

Other Peten municipalities to develop are Poptún, and Melchor y Sayaxché says economist Castellanos Marco Antonio Barrera.

A century ago, when Chinese citizens came to Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, a story began to develop that caught the attention of investors from various departments who contributed to a growth in business but also a disorderly urban expansion. Julio Ibarra Barrios, president of the chapter of the GCC in that department, said that the city has 3,800 different businesses, two malls, and the largest Metamercado in Central America, valued at Q103 million.

Amnesty Urges Guatemala to Account for 40K People Who Disappeared During War

Human rights group Amnesty International is urging Guatemala to account for an estimated 40,000 people who disappeared during the Central American nation's civil war.

Amnesty deputy director Kerrie Howard says Guatemala has not heeded many of the U.N.'s recommendations on reconciliation made 10 years ago.

She is urging lawmakers to approve a commission to investigate the disappearances.

About 6,000 people marched through Guatemala City on Wednesday, February 25th, on the 10th anniversary of the U.N. recommendations to demand information on their relatives' whereabouts.

Read the rest of the story here.