Tag Archives: Guatemala

Guatemala: Constitutional Standoff Threatens Central America’s Largest Economy

A banner left by Guatemalan prosecutors at a seized ranch owned by a now convicted politically connected drug trafficker reads “Evidence.” Guatemalan and foreign prosecutors in the Int’l Commission Against Impunity In Guatemala (CICIG) are investigating multiple Guatemalans politicians. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

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GUATEMALA CITY—A constitutional standoff between the Guatemalan president and a United Nations-led commission prosecuting corruption is triggering a crisis that Guatemala’s Central Bank acknowledges may damage the country’s economy and spawn more illegal migration to the United States. Guatemalans in Vermont are among many within the Guatemalan diaspora in the United States dismayed by an attack on political reform but buoyed by the response of thousands of their countrymen and women inside Guatemala.

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A banner left by Guatemalan prosecutors at a seized ranch owned by a now convicted politically connected drug trafficker reads "Evidence." Guatemalan and foreign prosecutors in the Int'l Commission Against Impunity In Guatemala (CICIG) are investigating multiple Guatemalans politicians. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Guatemalan citizens carry an empty coffin in front of Guatemala’s National Palace. The coffin symbolizes what demonstrators called the death of democracy following their president’s attempt to expel the head of CICIG. (photo: Gabriel Wer)

 

In 2007, the UN helped establish the International Commission Against Impunity In Guatemala, known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG. The commission’s mandate is the targeting and prosecution of deep-rooted corruption, a corrosive force in Guatemala’s politics, economy and judicial system for generations. CICIG’s investigations helped force the resignation of a sitting Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina in 2015. He is currently in jail awaiting trial while his case proceeds after CICIG charged him and his former vice president Roxana Baldetti in a corruption case. The case is known as La Línea (The Line) in which the Guatemalan customs agency offered companies bringing goods into Guatemala reduced import duties in return for money that was shared among dozens of government officials.

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Program Frontera Sur: Migrants Running Gauntlet On Guatemala-Mexico Border

The words read, “Christ Lives.” Migrants and goods such as oil and foodstuffs are transported illegally on a raft below a bridge that is an official port of entry between Mexico and Guatemala. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

ARRIAGA, Chiapas — The town of Arriaga in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas perfectly encapsulates how migration through Mexico has changed since 2014. Located three hours and 11 checkpoints north of the Guatemala border, it’s a former hub of trains known collectively as La Bestia, or The Beast.

But now, the train only comes here to bring in work crews who are repairing the tracks. Migrants who once lined the tracks have been replaced by police and Mexican immigration agents. They circle the town in trucks after months of raids, pulling migrants off trains and erecting concrete walls with barbed wire near the tracks to prevent access.

Migrants still show up here though, albeit in far fewer numbers.

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Fraying At The Seams: The Challenge Of Fair Trade Coffee In Mexico And Guatemala

photo: Lorne Matalon

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Paulino Agustín and Sinael Altamirano prepare ground in the mountains of Chiapas state, a prime coffee growing region in Mexico. They are digging before planting coffee trees which typically don't produce coffee beans for three years after planting. (Lorne Matalon)

CACAHOATAN, Chiapas — The lives of thousands of small-scale coffee growers in Latin America and Mexico are better off because of fair trade. But the system is fraying at the seams in one of the world’s most important coffee-growing regions because of a perfect storm defined by low prices, a damaging fungus and unscrupulous middlemen.

Central America and southern Mexico are major parts of the fair trade coffee mosaic and 80 percent of the world’s fair trade coffee comes from Latin America.

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“They pay well,” said coffee grower Pedro Pacheco in Spanish in Chajul, Guatemala referring to the foreigners who buy his fair trade coffee beans. He is a member of a fair trade coffee co-op in which coffee growers sell their beans together sharing risk and reward. He said his co-op works well because its foreign buyers pay a fair price that is locked in and doesn’t change even if market conditions do.

César Ulises Roblero (R) and Carlos Galves Hernandez (L) sell beans they acquire from growers from this small processing plant near the Tacaná volcano, a source of rich soil that imparts a distinct aromatic taste to coffee produced near here. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

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U.S. Junk Cars Sustain A Local Microeconomy In Guatemala

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A version of this story aired on Texas Standard from KUT Austin.

 

MARFA, Texas — Old cars that have little resale value in the United States are being towed in caravans that begin in California, Arizona and Texas and end up in Guatemala.

The cars are also loaded up with old bicycles, recycled car batteries and clothing that have been jettisoned in the United States.

The vehicles are fixed up in Guatemala and sold across Central America.

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CBC Radio Network Documentary: Guatemala, Los Zetas & Corruption

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Carlos Morales sits under a picture of Che Guevara in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz. Morales heads the Union of Peasant Organizations. He believes the state of siege is a pretext for suppressing agrarian reform in a region with a history of land disputes.

Juan Alberto Ortiz, alleged head of one of the leading drug cartels in Guatemala City is arrested after U.S. DEA operation in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. (Presidencia de la Republica, Guatemala)

Do people fear a brutal drug cartel or its own military?

For two months this year, the army laid siege to the province where the cartel — founded by former Mexican Army special forces soldiers who deserted — has been muscling in on trafficking routes, once controlled by Guatemalan cartels.

The offensive’s now been called down, but the military presence remains — and so do questions about its effectiveness.

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Interviewed by PBS NewsHour: Mexico Drug Cartels Moving In On Guatemala Routes

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Mexican drug cartels are carving out new territory in northern Guatemala, adding another layer of violence and crime to a country with one of the highest murder rates in the hemisphere.

Guatemalan soldiers check a car for at a checkpoint, Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

In December the Guatemalan government declared a two-month state of siege in the rural province of Alta Verapaz, bordering Mexico, in order to crack down on the growing influence of the notorious Mexico-based Los Zetas cartel.

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Mexico’s Drug War Comes To Guatemala

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Carlos Morales sits under a picture of Che Guevara in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz. Morales heads the Union of Peasant Organizations. He believes the state of siege is a pretext for suppressing agrarian reform in a region with a history of land disputes.

Mexican drug traffickers have worked their way south into Guatemala. The Guatemalan army has been trying to beat them back. But some Guatemalans are expressing loyalty to the drug cartels which have provided services – schools, roads, clinics, even security – that the Guatemalan government hasn’t delivered.

Mexico’s war against the drug cartels is spilling south into Guatemala. The cartels are threatening to take over parts of northern Guatemala near the Mexican border.

In response, the Guatemalan government has taken a page from its larger neighbor — and deployed the army to try and push the traffickers out. The government has declared a “state of siege” in one province, called Alta Verapaz, that it said has been overrun by one of Mexico’s most feared cartels.

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