Monday, April 27, 2009

President Announces Expropriation Policy

President Alvaro Colom said on Saturday that all persons who rent or sell houses, warehouses, and vehicles to drug dealers will be included in the blacklist of organized crime and whose assets will be expropriated.

The president announced the measure as a result of what happened last Friday on the Pacific Highway where a group of drug traffickers killed five agents of the SAIC, Guatemala's drug enforcement police.

"All the properties and companies that are providing fronts for these criminals are being investigated. Whoever rented the warehouse involved yesterday, all their business dealings and trade relations are already being investigated,"said Colom.

According to the president, all those people who rent premises and vehicles, or even sold to drug trafficking groups will be investigated.

"We will see where and how the purchases were paid for, verify relationships with the criminals, and then they fall onto the blacklist of drug traffickers," he warned.

He stressed: "It is important that entrepreneurs and property owners, when renting something, do it with contracts, because if not they become complicit with the criminals.

According to the chief executive, a meeting of the National Security Council will be convened. The president cited as an example those properties where cocaine and illegal weapons were found will be subject to a process of expropriation unless it is found that the owners were deceived.

"This government is already prepared, and prosecution is the bottom line," said Colom.

Tourist Income Drops

The Bank of Guatemala (Banguat) reported a drop of 3.6 percent in foreign tourist trade in the country in the first quarter of this year, compared with same period last year.

The figures included in a report by the central bank show that in this period visitors spent U.S. $364.3 million, while from January to March 2008 the amount was $377.8 million.

Entrepreneurs in the tourism industry say that the global economic crisis and the high cost of airfares is the cause of this decline and in the number of people entering the country.

However, the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (Inguat) states that the number of visitors during this period increased 3.9 percent over last year.

According to data from Banguat, Guatemalans also reduced their trips abroad and their expenditures in general.

Three Possible Cases of Swine Flu in Guatemala

The Ministry of Health announced three possible cases of swine flu in Guatemala.

Guatemalans are urged not to travel to Mexico where there are 103 confirmed deaths so far. The true number might be 147.

Avoid contact with people, avoid crowds, wash your hands often, don't touch your face, especially eyes, with unwashed hands.

Swine Flu Tracking Maps

It's not clear how often these maps will be updated. So far they are being well maintained, but no promises:

Tracking Map

Another Tracking Map