Guatemala. Politically, the year in Guatemala was dominated by a
spy scandal, which was quickly dubbed "Guategate" by the
media. In early September, it was revealed that
eavesdropping equipment was found in both President Álvaro
Colom's office and home, as well as in Vice President Rafael
Espada's office. The suspicions fell on the head of
Presidential Security Unit Carlos Quintanilla and
Presidential Secretary of Strategic Affairs Gustavo Solano,
both of whom resigned immediately. Colom said he noticed how
things he said in private conversations leaked to the press.
The scandal focused on G's notorious corruption and the
infiltration of criminal and paramilitary organizations in
the state apparatus. Interior Minister Carlos Vinicio
Gómez's death in a helicopter crash in June was also
initially suspected of being an attack but was probably
caused by bad weather.
Countryaah reports, the "Guategate" scandal resulted in President Colom
appointing a new chief of police, Marlene Blanco Lapola, G's
first female police chief ever. As part of the fight against
the increasingly serious crime, a new National Security
Council was created in November.
In October, former President Alfonso Portillo surrendered
to Mexican authorities for extradition to Guatemala Portillo is
indicted in his home country for embezzlement of $ 15
million during his tenure as president in 2000-04 and has
lived in exile in Mexico ever since.
After a period of protest action throughout the country,
in November 2004, Parliament passed a law to provide
financial compensation to members of the former paramilitary
groups. The groups that were the military's extended arm in
the period 1982-96 should have 100 million. US $ in
compensation. According to advocates of the so-called PACs
(Civil Self-Defense Patrols), about 10,000 protesters had
blocked roads, ports and airports demanding immediate
financial compensation. Shortly before, the Constitutional
Court rejected a similar law at the request of several human
rights organizations. The human rights organizations felt
that the paramilitary groups should not be compensated, as
they were co-responsible for massive human rights violations
The government's report on Human Development in March
2005 indicated that 50% of the country's population remained
poor and that 20% were extremely poor. The figures had not
changed since the last report in 2002. The poorest area is
the Northwest Highlands, where the concentration of the
indigenous population is highest. 1.2 million people live
here in poverty. In the northern part of the country,
809,000 people live in poverty.
A report from the International Program for the
Eradication of Child Labor (IPEC) under the ILO, 436,000
Guatemalan children aged 5-17 work. Worst are the conditions
in the countryside where 18.4% of children do adult work.
Many children start working in agriculture as 5 year olds.
At this age, work affects both their health and their
In October, Hurricane Stan hit the country hard. Over
1,000 were killed and 250,000 - most Indians and half minors
- lost their homes and possessions. Stan passed through
southern Mexico, Guatemala and briefly crossed through El
Salvador before continuing into the Pacific Ocean. However,
it was Guatemala that was hit the hardest, and according to.
The UN could destroy even more Guatemalans in extreme
poverty. The damage amounted to DKK 22 million. US $.
President Berger asked for international relief to meet the
needs of food, water and medicine.
The level of violence in Guatemala is generally
increasing and also affects women, children and young
people. On March 23, 2006, a group of children on their way
to school were attacked with a firearm by a gang. Four days
later, an 11-year-old boy was abducted and later killed. On
average, 2 minors are murdered every day. A similar number
of women are murdered. The government is being criticized
for doing nothing about the escalating violence that is a
consequence of the 45 years of military dictatorship in the
country and the culture of violence it has engendered.
In the first semester, overseas Guatemalans sent $ 2.05
billion. US $ back to Guatemala. This was a 21% increase
over the same period the year before. Transfers from
Guatemalans abroad are the second most important source of
foreign currency, only just surpassed by export earnings.
In late July, President Berger announced that he would
sue the United States for the WTO for dumping. Acc. the
president forces the United States of Guatemala to accept
imports of North American chickens at a price below the
prices set by the WTO.
On May 29, ex-military dictator Fernando Lucas García
died in the Venezuelan city of Puerto la Cruz, where he had
lived since 1982. In 2005, the Spanish authorities had
requested García extradite ifbm. investigations into the
deaths of 7 Spanish nationals in Guatemala during his reign.
The request was rejected by the Venezuelan authorities on
the grounds that the required documentation had not been
presented within the prescribed period.
A form of punishment historically used by the Mayans
appeared in various cities in the country, where it was used
against people accused of selling children. The punishment
consisted in whipping the men while women got their hair
cut. At the same time, they were expelled from their
community. A leader of one of the Native American
communities, Antonio Cotí stated that: "It was not good to
have children just to sell them. That is why they have been
punished and ostracized by their communities so that no one
else can do the same ”.