Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quakes Likely to Continue for Days or Weeks

The National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) announced yesterday that although earthquakes are not predictable, prior experience with quake swarms in this area indicates that the activity could continue in the coming days and weeks.

In the period from Saturday to Wednesday, more than 700 tremors have been recorded.

Traffic Jams Leaving Guatemala City

The beginning of the Easter Holiday was marked by traffic jams as thousands of families leave Guatemala City and head for traditional summer vacation spots such as Puerto de San José and Itzapa in Escuintla, Rio Dulce, Puerto Barrios, and Livingston in Izabal.

By midday yesterday (Wednesday) 5,500 cars passed the tolls on the Palin-Esquintla highway. By Wednesday night that number was expected to exceed 30,000 vehicles.

Because of the traffic jams, vendors set up shop every 500 meters along the highway to sell bottled water, candy, and soft drinks.

The traffic jams will begin all over again on Sunday April 12th as vacationers returns to the city.

Back to the Heat

The moderate cold front that gave us two cool days here in Rio Dulce is fading. Wednesday night might bring a little rain.

Thursday, expect warm south winds, hazy skies, and high temperatures typical of summer to start to return.

Financial Dealings of Public Officials will be Monitored

The Guatemalan justice department rejected an appeal seeking to block an initiative that will monitor the bank accounts and finances of 1,200 civil servants and their families in order to avoid corruption.

The Board of Appeals rejected the petition of attorney Jose Alfredo Solano Chuy, who personally sought to block the initiative designed to monitor Personas Expuestas Políticamente or "Politically Exposed / Prominent Persons".

Edgar Barquin, Superintendent of Banks, the entity charged with keeping an eye on accounts, said that thanks to this ruling the will of the Government will be done and things will proceed.

The Intendencia de Verificación Especial (IVE) or Special Audit Office will monitor accounts and contact public officials and servants, their parents, spouses, and children to establish the reasons for large cash transactions. If the answers are unsatisfactory the case will go to investigation.

One Rider Per Motorcycle

The Ministry of the Interior yesterday released the official government journal Government Agreement 105-2009, which prohibits motorcycles and motorized bicycles that are occupied by more than one person. Those rules go into effect starting today and comes in response to the wave of violence affecting the country.

The constant attacks being committed by criminals who ride motorcycles and murder the drivers of passenger transport vehicles or holdup busloads of passengers prompted the Interior Ministry to respond with a government agreement that prohibits, starting Thursday morning, April 9th, more than one rider on a motorcycle.

Moreover, the agreement obliges motorcycle riders to wear a reflective vest, with a distinctive yellow fluorescent reflective pattern, with the license plate number of the motorcycle visible from five meters away.

It also requires that a white sticker with the license plate number appear on the helmet of the driver.

In accordance with Article 185 of the Traffic Regulations, fines shall apply for all violations.

Removal or covering of the identification markings or not wearing a vest that complies with the rules will be fines Q1,000. Obstruction of a public highway or use of a public highway for racing carries a fine of Q5,000 to Q25,000.

The Interior Minister, Salvador Gándara said that this decision was made after analyzing the statistics, which show that most of these crimes are committed by people driving a motorcycle.

Gándara added that in countries where this law has been implemented, crime has fallen considerably, as is the case of Colombia.

"We know there are honest people who use this medium to travel, but people are crying out for security," the official said. However, he explained that once public safety has been restored the law can be amended so as not to affect honest motorists.