Los Zetas, based in Mexico's

Guatemala — The Peten jungle, once known for its jaguars and Mayan ruins, has fallen prey to a notorious Mexican drug gang that operates from remote jungle ranches and has begun openly challenging Guatemalan security forces for control of the roads.
The struggle that's under way in this remote region could help determine the fate of Guatemala, a fragile democracy south of Mexico that's already under enormous pressure from narcotics gangs. It's certain to affect Mexico, which is struggling to maintain order against powerful armed gangs on its northern borders.
In a fierce clash that began south of the famous Tikal ruins, the drug gang known as Los Zetas, based in Mexico's northeastern border area and the Yucatan Peninsula, was able to outgun local police by deploying armored vehicles, bigger guns and far more ammunition. Then it fought a large army patrol to a draw, losing vehicles and taking wounded but apparently getting away with a stash of cocaine.
The transformation of the once-pristine jungle into a no man's land is the latest calamity to befall Guatemala, which has had a history of military domination, a 36-year civil war and a genocide conducted by the Guatemalan army against Mayan Indians some three decades ago. Although the CIA helped overthrow a government in 1952, Guatemala's newest drama is getting little high-level attention in Washington.
The recent confrontation between Los Zetas and the authorities began with a shouted warning from a bullhorn and a wrong turn.
Around midday on Oct. 5, when police stopped a convoy of 16 or so big double-cabin pickups and other vehicles a short drive south of the Tikal National Park, an amplified voice from one vehicle barked a warning:
"We are Los Zetas! Let us pass. We don't want problems."
To make their point, several men carrying assault rifles got out of the vehicles and fired hundreds of rounds into the air in a deafening display of firepower.


Guatemalan Vice President Rafael Espada talks abotu experiments

GUATEMALA CITY – The United States carried out 17 different types of medical experiments on approximately 1,500 Guatemalans by intentionally infecting them with venereal diseases in the 1940s, Guatemalan Vice President Rafael Espada told the press.
Officials already have data on the medical projects and the information is being investigated by a commission headed by the vice president with help from the United States, Espada said.
The experiments were performed by U.S. scientists on the mentally ill, prostitutes, prisoners and soldiers in the Central American nation between 1946 and 1948, Espada said. The Guatemalans were infected intentionally with syphilis and gonorrhea, among other diseases.
The U.S. government has already provided about 90 percent of the scientific information about the experiments and the documents will be opened when the commission investigating the matter is fully constituted with medical experts and translators to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings, the vice president said.


U.S. scientists infected the mentally ill, prostitutes, prisoners and soldiers with veneral diseases in the Central American nation between 1946 and 1948

Hurricane Richard weakens as it goes over Guatemala

Tropical Depression Richard, moving northwest over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, will disintegrate in the next day or two and probably won’t regain strength in the Gulf of Mexico, according to forecasters.
The system was about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southeast of Ciudad del Carmen at about 4:30 p.m. East Coast time, the National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and was moving at 9 mph toward the Bay of Campeche.

“The U.S. interests in the energy infrastructure do not need to worry at all about this storm,” said Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist for Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. “The environmental conditions over the Gulf are hostile. It won’t strengthen, it will die a slow death.”

Richard developed into a tropical storm last week over the western Caribbean before growing into a hurricane and going ashore in Belize over the weekend. At its peak it was a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, according to the hurricane center.

Kidnappers using social networks

Guatemalan Kidnappers Use Online Social Networks


GUATEMALA - The use of social networking websites to kidnap people is on the rise in Guatemala, the local press reported on Thursday.

Facebook, Hi5, MySpace, and Tagged are some of the websites where criminals look for the people they later abduct, Prensa Libre newspaper said, based on investigations by the Public Ministry.

Investigators have information about five cases in which the kidnappers chose their victims through those sites. The targets are chiefly people between 10 and 25 years old who are invited by unknown persons who claim to be of the same age.

Guatemalan authorities reported that five or six kidnapping gangs are operating in the country, but a new one using that method is being sought.

The kidnappers begin operating when they create false accounts on those websites, with false data and photos. Then they invite the victims to chat, they get their information, and finally they abduct them.

The accounts are created at cybercafes, making it difficult to identify the criminals, the article said.

Guatemala: UN-backed meeting opens to spur recovery from floods, eruptions

An international conference opened in Guatemala today to help in the reconstruction of the Central American country after devastating volcanic eruptions and torrential rains, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledging full United Nations support.

“The United Nations system has been deeply engaged in the humanitarian response to Guatemala’s recent catastrophes, and our co-sponsorship of this meeting is a further sign of our commitment,” he said in a message delivered by UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena.

“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with national authorities and partners to provide coherent and responsive support to Guatemala in its effort to achieve its stated goal of ‘recovery and reconstruction with transformation,’” he added, noting that the “tremendous human suffering, material destruction and economic losses” have raised concerns over the effects of extreme weather associated with climate change.
Such tragedies “highlight the need for concrete action at the upcoming Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], which begins next month in Cancún, [Mexico],” he stressed.

On Saturday, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said countries at a meeting in Tianjin, China, had made progress in defining what could be achieved at the Cancún talks to be held from 29 November to 10 December as part of the world effort to stabilize human-caused greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that could lead to global warming, violent storms and fierce droughts.

Guatemala: UN-backed meeting opens to spur recovery from floods, eruptions

US won't participate in Guatemala adoption program

GUATEMALA CITY — The United States won't participate in Guatemala's pilot adoption program.
The U.S. State Department says Guatemala hasn't provided enough details on how cases will be processed under a system enacted in 2008 and corruption remains a concern.
Guatemala suspended international adoptions in 2007 after discovering some babies had been stolen and others had fake birth certificates. Guatemala had been the world's second-largest source of babies to U.S. citizens after China.
Rudy Zepeda, spokesman for Guatemala's National Adoptions Council, declined Thursday to comment on the U.S. move. The State Department announced the decision Wednesday on its website.

Source : AP

New archbishop of Guatemala named

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Guatemala City, Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, thanked his fellow Catholic bishops of Guatemala for their help during his term as leader of the Central American republic’s Catholics. At Sunday homily on October 1, he also called upon the faithful to support the new archbishop of Guatemala City, Bishop Oscar Vian Morales, as he begins his episcopacy.

Cardinal Quezada Toruño has been an outspoken defender of human rights and the country’s poor and is frequently at loggerheads with Guatemala’s political elites. He has demanded good governance and has called on President Alvaro Colom to address rampant crime and murder.

Cardinal Quezada Toruño had served as archbishop of Guatemala and the neighboring Sacatepequez region since 2001. In an interview at the beginning of his archepiscopacy, he said that he wished to advance peace and reconciliation in a country long torn by violence and government oppression. Moreover, he said that Guatemalans deserve to “live in a society that is more, just, fraternal, and human.” A participant in negotiations that eventually led to peace accords between the Guatemalan government and armed rebels, the archbishop said that while positive steps have been taken towards peace there is much more work to do.

The incoming archbishop, Bishop Óscar Julio Vian Morales was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. He was born in 1947 to Isidoro Vian and Hortensia Morales, who had three other children. He was named to the see of Los Altos Quetzaltenango - Totonicapán in 2007. Quetzaltenango is the second largest city in Guatemala and close to the Mexican border.

Read more of the story: Spero News

Latin American Herald Tribune - Guatemala Hillside Collapse Kills 2 Children

GUATEMALA CITY – Two Indian children were buried alive in Guatemala when a hillside collapsed during the heavy rains of the last few hours and fell onto their poor dwelling, officials said Saturday.

The tragedy occurred in the town of Canilla, Quiche province, at 210 kilometers (130 miles) northwest of the Guatemalan capital, where more than a dozen communities are isolated by the multiple mudslides that have fallen on highways.

A firefighters’ spokesperson told reporters that the little girls, identified as Rosibel and Lesbia Dubon Ortiz, were asleep when the hillside crashed down and buried their home under tons of mud and rocks.

According to the latest report from the Conred national disaster management agency, the torrential rains that lashed Guatemala in recent days affected more than 40,000 people.

The report said that a total of 8,092 people had to be evacuated and of those, 7,313 went to temporary shelters, 1,238 homes were slightly damaged and more than 40 mudslides fell onto highways.

Several stretches of the Inter-American Highway are currently blocked by the mudslides, with authorities trying to clear away the tons of mud and rocks that poured down from the hillsides.

Since Thursday, classes have been suspended in four municipalities of the northern province of Alta Verapaz due to flooding.

Conred said that an orange alert is in effect nationwide as a preventive measure and to aid those affected.

According to the National Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology Institute, the storm is normal for the country’s rainy season, which began to dissipate on Friday.

To date in 2010, rains in Guatemala have left 276 dead and around 600,000 affected.

Latin American Herald Tribune - Guatemala Hillside Collapse Kills 2 Children

UN: Guatemala can not postpone the fight against insecurity with false measures

The United Nations Office for Human Rights in Guatemala expresses its deep concern over the current debate in the Guatemalan Congress over bills for security and justice, promoting measures that do not attack the structural problems, delegitimize and undermine the rule of law.

It is misleading to think that actions based on repression and human rights violations are the solution to insecurity, such as the application of the death penalty today in Guatemala, to renounce international human rights treaties, the creation of courts with "faceless judges" and the so-called "anti-gang laws "

The latter, besides being ineffective have been strongly condemned by the United Nations for being discriminatory and promote the persecution of young people simply by their clothing or the use of tattoos, not because they commit a crime. Furthermore, in a country that lacks adequate meeting places and recreation, these laws criminalize youth and restrict freedom of association, since any youth social would be included in the definition of "mara"- gangs, being innocent.

To execute ten people on death row does not solve the problem of insecurity. The death penalty has not proven to have a deterrent effect on crime, it reproduces violence and neglects to address the structural problems that originate the problem.

The waiver of international human rights treaties would be a serious setback, which not only threatens the rights of Guatemalans, but that marginalizes the country against the international community and contradicts the commitments acquired by the State of Guatemala before international human rights organizations.


Source: The United Nations Office for Human Rights in Guatemala, Press Release, September 29, 2010.

U.S. apologize for STD experiments in Guatemala

U.S. to apologize for STD experiments in Guatemala.

This reported on MSNBC

U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago. 

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.
About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are expected to offer extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.
The apology will be to Guatemala and Hispanic residents of the United States, according to officials. 

See Source for more of this story: MSNBC