Monday, March 16, 2009

Consumer Protection in Guatemala

Ever wonder about the complaint logbook that you see prominently displayed in many businesses?

Since 2006, Guatemala has had a consumer protection law that is quite thorough and the logbook is one of the requirements of the law. The decree outlaws deceptive advertising, deceptive charges or fees, false advertising, phony offers or offers that are not fulfilled, deceptive labeling, tainted products or products that do not contain what they say, improperly calibrated scales or other measuring devices, and much more. The law covers false advertising by any means, print, electronic, etc. The law protects all consumers of goods and services including private individuals and legal entities like corporations, both domestic and foreign.

The text of the law is here: http://www.diaco.gob.gt/ley.php

The original decree is here: http://www.diaco.gob.gt/registro3578.pdf

In addition there is a pan-Central American consumer protection agency called DIACO, with arms in each of the countries of Central America. The Guatemalan agency provides many services for education and training and holds consumer protection fairs in different parts of the country. Most departments have a DIACO office. They also have a web site with lots of information and a mechanism to file complaints online.

http://www.diaco.gob.gt/index.php

Tourism Can Minimize Effects of Global Crisis in Central America

Tourism cannot escape being affected by the global economic crisis, but Central America continued to show growth of visitors in 2008 based on both regional and local strategies, as was shown at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to the Convention of International Tourism, held in Berlin, Germany.

In 2008 there was an increase of two percent in the influx of tourists around the world and in Latin America, Central America was the region ranked highest in income growth from tourism, even higher than Northern South America, which reported an increase of 5.9 percent.

According to data from the Central American Tourism Agency (CATA), with headquarters in Madrid, about 8.2 million visitors came to the region.

Central America offers itself to tourists as both a single product and as individual countries that complement each other.

From the cultural and archaeological tourism represented by Guatemala to Panama on business, are clear examples of how each country has their own potential to be offered to the international market along with all of Central America.

This assertion is supported by the statistics of the Spanish airline Iberia, which in 2008 transported 290,000 passengers to Central America, 14 percent more than in 2007.

The Dutch airline, KLM, also increased its flights between Amsterdam and Panama from three to five per week.

Central America is clear that the global crisis is an opportunity in the field of tourism. The main strategy is to strengthen regional tourism and to provide added value to all products offered, with the goal that every dollar spent by a visitor receives highest quality in every respect.

In addition, the United States represents the main market for tourism to this region. Although it is in recession, tourism operators are confident that Americans who have traveled long distances before will now come the much shorter distance to Central America.

In Guatemala, tourism generated revenues of more than U.S. $208 million in the first two months of 2009, representing an increase of 2.9 percent over the same months in 2008, according to data from Inguat.

Tired of Waiting for New Gun Law

President Alvaro Colom announced yesterday that in the absence of consensus to approve the new Law of Arms and Ammunition, there are arrangements with the next congress, which begins Tuesday, for the approval of the act to strengthen the prosecution and punishment for possession of illegal weapons.

The new rule, proposed by various blocs in congress, contains the most urgent reforms requested by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), and has already reached consensus among the heads of the various blocs.

According to the president, the Law of Arms and Ammunition is key but the legislature continues its discussions, and the national security pact that will be signed by the president in the coming days requires tools to strengthen the prosecution.

According the president of the congress, Roberto Alejos, the proposal would be approved on Thursday and is the merger of five initiatives for reform presented by CICIG last year plus a new Law of Extraditions.

"We will reform the Arms and Ammunition Act, the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure, the Law against Organized Crime and Witness Protection," noted the president of congress.