- Otto Pérez Molina met with the United States Commander in Chief of SOUTHCOM, General Douglas Fraser, earlier this week to discuss plans to improve intelligence services, special forces, paratroopers, kaibiles, the National Civil police and bolster radar capabilities in the fight against narco-trafficking. During the meeting, General Fraser made promises to provide training and support to high and mid-level Guatemalan command forces, invited Pérez Molina to a Miami command base to learn about radar operations, and agreed to support the implementation of the C4i system. The C4i system—command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence—is a US-funded and monitored technology project that would provide aerial and satellite photo capabilities, 6 Super Tucano airplanes, three radar systems, and meteorological computer monitoring.
- Amid a series of cabinet appointments announced this week, the president-elect has also announced plans to create a new vice-minister position to serve as a ‘sort-of czar of narco-trafficking’ to oversee all anti-narcotic activities and forces. Pérez Molina did not provide details as to the financing or possible structure of such a position.
- Plaza Publica provides a lengthy and revealing profile of Rozana Baldetti, the first female to ever be elected vice-president in Guatemala. The article covers some questionable aspects of Baldetti’s stint as a journalist, her conservative and religious social views, and her political path towards the Patriot Party.
- In regards to the extradition of Alfonso Portillo, the United States government has indicated that it has no responsibility to comply with the requirements of the American Human Rights Convention as requested by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, because it is not an official signer of the convention. Portillo has openly criticized President Colom’s decision to authorize his extradition, arguing that it was illegal and arbitrary.
- According to a report released by the Presidential Secretary of Women (SEPREM), 24.5% of women did not report incidents of violence due to feelings of embarrassment, while 17.4% didn’t report because they didn’t feel it was necessary and 15.7% feared retaliation. In a recent press conference, Sonia Escobeda of SEPREM argued that violence against women in Guatemala has reached an ‘alarming rate’—in the past 10 years, 5,000 violent deaths against women have been recorded.
- Members of the Trans-Border, Migration and Gender Roundtable have expressed concerns over an increase in excessive violence against migrants on the Guatemalan-Mexico border.
- Earlier this week, security forces captured Elio Lorenzana, supposed narco-trafficker. Immediately following the capture, he was transferred to the capital city, where his sentence will be determined and the process of extradition to the United States will begin.
- Alongside Otto Perez Molina, Mauricio Lopez Bonilla will take office as the new Minister of the Interior in January. In an interview with La Hora, Bonilla discusses some of the new administration’s plans to tackle security in Guatemala including the establishment of inter-institutional working groups, direct collaboration with the Attorney General’s office and Helen Mack, seeking assistance from U.S. intelligence officials, and re-employing kaibiles and paratroopers to bring down the Zetas.
- The Huffington Post provides brief coverage of Portillo’s extradition, including a photo slide-show of the ex-president. Portillo has been charged with money laundering related to the embezzlement of $1.5 million in foreign donation.
- Check out yet another damning report on the current situation of poverty, violence and corruption in Guatemala, published by IPS. The article focuses on the high child malnutrition rate, increasing murder rate, high level of impunity, and other challenges facing the incoming administration.
- For a more uplifting vignette, the New York Times covers a small but growing project to create Guatemala’s own version of Silicon Valley. Housed in one simple brick building, Campus Tecnológico is a group of creative social and technology enterprises striving to turn the heart of Guatemala City into an entrepreneurial hub.