Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CNN - Pyramid Discovered in Lost City of Mirador

Originally posted Feb 4, 2012

CNN - Pyramid Discovered in Lost City of Mirador "Thousands of Pyramids Yet to be Uncovered!"

Did you know HUGE Pyramids have recently been uncovered as recent as 2009? ...and that Thousands of Pyramids Yet to be Uncovered!" ???

Archaeologists have discovered what may be the world's largest pyramid by volume under the canopy of the rain forest and buried under dense vegetation. What is more enlightening and significant of the people and culture is what is revealed inside. Inside this Mayan temple are writings depicting the creation story known as the Popul Vuh engraved in a Mayan temple in El Mirador, Guatamala. It was previously thought that the Popul Vuh was influenced by Catholic church after Columbus historical discovery of America. However, these markings appear to pre-date Columbus by more than 1000 years. So how did the creation story and other influences find their way into Mayan culture if it this was originally built in 300BC?

What I found interesting is that this single Mayan city is larger in size than modern-day downtown Los Angeles. This new discovery of information correlates with the stories and historical record included in the writings of the Book of Mormon. For one thing in the Book of Mormon the connection to Jerusalem and what is now known as the Old Testament records including the books of Genesis, Exodus and so on were kept on 'plates of brass' and passed from generation to generation and which were considered sacred. Writings on the walls of most temples it is safe to say typically are sacred and considered worth featuring upon such a monumental undertaking as the greatest pyramid by volume known to exist anywhere in the world. This is an example of an extremely significant historical discovery that needs to be preserved and studied further. It would be tragic to lose another wonder of the world and the richness of what it means to humanity to greed, nature or other forces. Far too much has already been lost in regard the many cultures and especially Mayan culture. One of the greatest civilizations ever to exist and one which dominated this hemisphere. CNN




Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lake Atitlan Directory

I think we have the directory almost in shape for publication. That would be grande.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

LakeAtitlanDirectory.com is a free online directory of community services and more around Lake Atitlan and Guatemala. Add your own listing! This will be a white and yellow pages of all the things that are going on around the lake, along with community services, groups, nonprofits and more. There are so many interesting things happening here!  Guatemala has so much to offer: it's a whole new world, and just a plane ticket away! It's nothing like you thought it would be. It's not all "steaming jungles" and gangs running around. It's a wonderful place and so affordable, and a great way to retire. We're just a few hours away. People even drive here every day. Thanks for stopping by!


From a discussion on Facebook in the open group AMSCLAE:

This is the best explanation of why and how we need to work together:
Acción Guatemala 11:24am Dec 13, 2011 
Catherine Todd ... please don´t go just because of one person. if Maximo wants to be nice and make better translations, he should do it himself and we will all be grateful. If he can´t, then there might be another solution... we should all have a little patience. We are a community of many languages and we really need to share information"
God works in mysterious ways. Ever since I decided to do the LakeAtitlanDirectory.com which is simple, free online database listing all the community groups and services around Lake Atitlan, I have been subject to the most incredible rudeness and attacks by a few individuals. It's clear there's plenty of serious personality disorders to go around here, and why so many gringos that just "can't make it in the states" end up down here. The terrible behavior by a few has been enough to seriously consider shutting down the whole thing. But then I see something like what Acción Guatemala writes, and I see the problems when people can't or won't work together for the common good, so I realize I can't let a few bad apples ruin the batch.

I hope I can learn new skills at this late stage. If not, I will continue to work from the sidelines and provide what is necessary and remain in my small cloistered monastery where I do find peace. But the whole wide world is awaiting outside in all it's conflict and cacophony and I can't hide away here forever. It's time to save Lake Atitlan and that will take concerted effort of everyone working together.

The problems with Lake Atitlan are but a serious SYMPTOM of the lack of care that everyone who lives here has shown for the environment, whether it is by ignorance, or impotence, or incompetence; or ego, graft, corruption and greed. Many of us, like myself, don't know what to do and we are trying to find out. I hope everyone will help towards a common goal for the common good. It should be easy but it's not. I will never know why.

Dear God please show us The Way.

"The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Energies of Place ~ Lake Atitlan

i escaped the clutches of the lake, or that is the way it feels. Felt it dragging me to its depths at times, to that which lay below and within. At times it shown brightly at me, like the day i watched the sun or something sparkle upon it, in lines and geometric designs and across [...]
Read Full Post »

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gringos in Guatemala

Great blog I stumbled across by a new teacher at Life School in Panajachel. We helped Life School redo their computer lab a couple of years back:

Gringos in Guatemala ~ GuatemalaGringo.blogspot.com


Monday, October 24, 2011

Guatemala’s Lost Photographs (en Inglés y Español)

I helped fund this project on Kickstarter.com. Kickstarter is such a marvelous way to help so many worthy projects... what a wonderful idea, and such a necessary book. I am very glad I came here to Guatemala in a time of peace. We are so lucky that we have lived in the United States in a time of peace. I hope I can help with the recovery still going on now. English & Spanish translation below. Catherine Todd

From: Kara Andrade kara.andrade (at) gmail.com
To: futuroscolectivos (at) googlegroups.com
Date: October 24, 2011 

Dear Futuros Colectivos friends,

I hope you are all well! In my continuing effort to support projects that will help me understand the Guatemala my mother and I left when I was a child, I am teaming up with photographer Jean-Marie Simon to help her publish her photographs from the 1980s, one of the bloodiest period of Guatemala's civil war.  Jean-Marie was one of the few people at the time taking pictures of the violence, the army garrisons, the guerrillas and their encampments, the empty villages, the dead and displaced people. Little did she know that with every photo she was creating a historical memory of the armed conflict from a period in Guatemala’s history that many would not talk about, many still do not acknowledge -- and those who remember are still, thirty years later, reluctant to discuss.

When the Spanish edition of Jean-Marie Simon's book "Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eternal Tiranía" sold out in 2010, she invested the proceeds in a new, popular edition with more than 200 color photos. She wanted to ensure this edition would reach Guatemala’s remote rural communities, and that teachers knew how to use the book effectively at the elementary, secondary and university levels. In many of these communities it would be their only source of written historical memory of an era that is seldom seen in textbooks or spoken about in schools. She is underwriting this affordable color photo book for Guatemalans who cannot afford the previous coffee table edition, and  donating 1,000 copies – 25 percent of the 4,000 print run – to public schools and universities including those in the most remote areas of Guatemala.

This popular edition will be published in November and with your help we're going to make sure it's done well. While the book’s basic costs are funded, we need additional resources such as a sewn binding for the books to guarantee durability and the cost of digitizing the Kodachrome transparencies in order to include 100 color photographs that have never been published in previous editions. We're also paying local staff to design, proofread and print the book.

To show your support donate to
our Kickstarter campaign.

You can also tell your friends, colleagues and contacts who are interested in Guatemala's history. These published images can help the new generations of Guatemalans become informed citizens – making current decisions about their country's future from a place of knowing their country's past. To see some of the images click here.

Thank you for your help and interest.

Kara Andrade 

--- Translation:

Estimados de Futuros Colectivos,

Espero que estén todos bien! Quería compartir una campaña estamos trabajando en que se alinea con muchos de los valores que todos compartimos.

Estoy colaborando con la fotógrafo Jean-Marie Simon para ayudarla a publicar sus fotografías de la década de 1980, uno de los período más sangriento de la guerra civil de Guatemala. Cuando ella llegó a Guatemala en los años 80, llegué como voluntaria de Amnistía Internacional, documentando las violaciones a los derechos humanos en Nebaj, parte de los pueblos Mayas y área rural del triángulo Ixil guatemalteco.  Llegué mientras muchas personas huían del país – huían del comienzo de tres décadas de guerra civil, desapariciones, asesinatos masivos y la política de tierras quemadas que arrasó con las vidas y pueblos de miles de personas indígenas.  Jean-Marie fue una de las pocas personas de aquella época que tomaba fotos de la violencia, de la guarnición del ejército, la guerrilla y sus campamentos, los pueblos vacíos, las personas muertas y desplazadas.  Con cada fotos ella estaba creando una memoria histórica del conflicto armado, pero eso no lo sabía,  en un período de la historia de Guatemala del que muchas personas aún no hablan, muchos aún no reconoces – y aquellos quienes lo recuerdan aún, treinta años más tarde, se muestran renuentes a discutirlo.

Sus fotografías de la guerra civil de Guatemala fueron publicadas por primera vez como “Guatemala: Eterna Primavera Eterna Tiranía” (WW Norton). El libro vendió 20,000 copias.   Las imágenes del libro forman el único conjunto fotográfico completo de ese período de la historia de Guatemala.  En el 2010, publicó la versión en español del mismo libro, en Guatemala, y estuvo en el primer lugar de los más vendidos, se agotó en seis meses.

En noviembre publicaré una nueva versión estudiantil de su libro con el fin de enseñar a los escolares guatemaltecos acerca de la guerra de una forma más visual.  Hay una gran necesidad de distribuir este libro en Guatemala, especialmente a niños de edad escolar quienes tienen poca información sobre la guerra. 

La necesidad de un libro fotográfico para lograr este objetivo tiene una urgencia especial en Guatemala, donde 70 por ciento de la población rural es analfabeta o semi-alfabeta y donde el predominio de las lenguas mayas suma un reto en la distribución de información.  La fotografía rompe las barreras lingüísticas y de la pobreza.  El financiamiento será invertido en la publicación y distribución del libro para cubrir los costos de impresión, para crear guías para los maestros, paquetes de prensa, y fondos para viajar y llevar el libro a las áreas rurales de Guatemala donde su necesidad es mayor.

Este es el único libro de fotografías que cubre la guerra brutal de Guatemala.  Es muy importante que los pueblos que más lo necesitan tengan acceso a él y que las personas lo utilicen como un recurso al enseñar la historia del conflicto armado guatemalteco.

Para mostrar su apoyo a nuestra campaña haga clic en Kickstarter.

También puede compartir con sus amigos, colegas y contactos que estén interesados ​​en la historia de Guatemala. Estas imágenes publicadas pueden ayudar que las nuevas generaciones de guatemaltecos se conviertan en ciudadanos informados y tomar decisiones actuales sobre el futuro de su país desde un lugar de conocer el pasado de su país.

Para ver algunas de las imágenes haga clic aquí.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guatemala: Finding peace in the volcano’s shadow

Reposted from Telegraph Travel, UK:


Guatemala: Finding peace in the volcano’s shadow

Antigua is fascinating, but Lake Atitlán really is too much of a good thing, finds Rhymer Rigby.

Guatemala: Finding peace in the volcano's shadow
Image 1 of 4
Atitlán's famed clarity means the swimming is great. There's also a bit of a hippie vibe 
Antigua is a great place to wake up. We’d arrived in the middle of the night after 20 hours of planes, stopovers and cabs with two small children. But when I stumbled, jet-lagged, onto our balcony it was all worth it. The red-tiled roofs of a beautifully preserved Spanish colonial city, punctuated by flowering trees and church bell-towers, stretched to the base of a giant conical volcano. And it was warm and sunny, but pleasantly so, as Antigua’s altitude cools the steam-bath heat of the tropics.
This Guatemalan town is cute and knows it, but it’s none the worse for this. Paradoxically, the city owes its remarkable state of preservation to the destructive power of the spectacular volcanoes around it. The Spanish built it as their third Central American capital in 1543, when it went by the name of La muy Noble y muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala. For centuries it was Central America’s most powerful city, something to which the grand civic buildings and elegant private houses bear witness.
But the area was very geologically active and, after a particularly destructive earthquake in 1773, Antigua was evacuated and the capital moved to Guatemala City. Antigua was never really abandoned but its relegation meant that, the odd earthquake notwithstanding, it retained its 18th-century charm while Guatemala City became an unlovely and unsafe urban sprawl.
Antigua’s geological instability has also resulted in an extraordinary vernacular architecture. Buildings, although recognisably Spanish in design, are low and massive. Single-storey walls are 3ft thick and columns barely 10ft high have the same diameter as those holding up the portico at the British Museum.
The town’s numerous churches are often better appreciated from outside; they’ve been shaken to pieces by earthquakes so many times they tend to be rather plain within. But, many of the humbler buildings such as restaurants and hotels have beautiful, shady courtyards in which to escape the mid-day sun. Antigua is in some ways a bit like Bath or Cambridge – the fabric of the city is the attraction and it’s best seen by walking around.
Neverthless, by day three, we felt we needed to stretch our legs a little more so we booked a day trip to the nearby Pacaya volcano. In years past, you could walk right up to streams of red-hot lava, but the 2010 eruption changed that. Although we couldn’t actually see molten rock, it was gratifyingly volcanic.

We watched smoke belch and rumble out of a crater that looked like an entrance to the underworld, walked across a blackened landscape where the ground was warm to the touch and sweated in a cave dubbed “the natural sauna”.

After four days in Antigua, we headed up to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala’s geological show- stopper. We passed some pretty scenery on the way, but nothing prepares you for the lake. As a scenic set-piece, it is astonishing. When he visited the area in 1933, Aldous Huxley wrote: “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.” He wasn’t exaggerating.

To appreciate the lake you need to get out of its biggest town, Panajachel. We picked up a water taxi at the docks and headed to Santa Cruz, which is everything a lakeside hamlet should be. Here, stretched along a couple of miles of shoreline, are perhaps a dozen hotels, all small and charming, with manicured gardens running down to the lake.

Atitlán’s famed clarity means the swimming is great. There’s also a bit of a hippie vibe. Quite a few foreigners discovered Atitlán in the Sixties and Seventies and our hotel was also a yoga retreat.

Our lakeside routine involved a fruity breakfast, a little swimming and perhaps a walk along the wooded shoreline. If we found this too taxing, we’d soak in the hot tub; in volcanic Guatemala, these are something of a national obsession.

The scenery is stunning and occasionally surprising. Walking along the lake at sunset one day, I could see what looked like a bush fire. But a local man told me, no, it was volcanic steam or smoke venting. Hardly surprising: although the last major eruption was in the 19th century, the area remains active and the lake is not only watched over by three volcanoes, the basin itself is a volcanic caldera.

We’d only intended to spend three days at Atitlán, but found it so relaxing, we extended to nearly a week. You probably could spend seven days doing nothing other than looking at the views but there are plenty of other activities. We hiked in the mountains around the lake and hailed water taxis to visit the little villages that dot the shores.

I climbed Volcán San Pedro, walking up through coffee plantations and cloud-forest to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the lake.

Had we stayed longer we could even have scuba dived and parasailed. But eventually, my wife told me that we really had to leave.

As I carried our luggage to the jetty, I suggested that we might extend our stay. But she was adamant. It was time to go – and I daresay she was right.

Lake Atitlán is already too much of a good thing. And you don’t want to have too much of a good thing.

American Airlines (0844 499 7300; americanairlines.co.uk) flies to Guatemala City via Miami from around £600 return. Most hotels in Antigua offer an airport pick-up, which takes 45 minutes and costs about £40.
Journey Latin America
(020 8747 8315; journeylatinamerica.co.uk) offers a 13-night package to Guatemala, from £1,581 per person, excluding return flight. Exodus (0845 287 7543; exodus.co.uk) has two 16-night packages to Guatemala, from £2,079 per person, including return flight.
Casa del Parque, Antigua ££
A minute’s walk from the beautiful central square, in a traditional building, Casa del Parque is a friendly, good-value hotel with a swimming pool and hot tub.
Ask for a room on the upper floor as the few extra dollars are worth it for the views (00502 7832 0961; hotelcasadelparque.com ; doubles from US$80/£50 per night).
Villa Sumaya, Lake Atitlán ££
Set in gorgeous lan dscaped grounds on the shores of Lake Atitlán, Villa Sumaya is a great place to stay whether you’re into yoga or not. It has a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and offers a range of spa treatments. The food is fantastic, much of it home grown (4026 1390; villasumaya.com; from US$80/£50).
Posada del Angel, Antigua £££
The place where Bill Clinton stayed when he visited in 1999, Posada del Angel is small, exclusive and immaculately decorated in a style that retains much of the building’s original charm. It’s expensive by Guatemalan standards, but still great value (7832 0260; posadadelangel.com; from US$210/£131).
La Esquina, Antigua £
If you want to eat authentic Guatemalan food, but with a slightly haute cuisine twist, this is the place to do it
(6a Calle Poniente No 7-5a Avenue Sur; 7882 4761).
Sunset Café, Panajachel £
It’s a fair bet you will need to eat in Panajachel at some point as it has the greatest concentration of facilities on Lake Atitlán and is the gateway to the lake. The Sunset Café has a superb location and, as its name suggests, has some of the best views of Atitlán’s extraordinary sunsets (corner of Calle Santander and Calle del Lago; 7762 0003).
Casa Escobar, Antigua ££
If you tire of basic but typical Guatemalan dishes and feel in need of a more upmarket experience, Casa Escobar does an excellent steak, along with a good, largely South American wine list. The restaurant has a sophisticated feel, too (6a Avienda Norte No 3; 7832 5250).

What to avoid

Most visitors skip Guatemala City entirely – and with good reason, as it has high levels of crime and poverty and rather lower levels of attractions.
Panajachel, on Lake Atitlán, is not a great place to stay either, but that’s because it’s scruffy, rather than dangerous. You want to be out on the lake.
Public water taxis run on the lake from 7am and are used by visitors and locals alike. If someone tells you that they’re not available it’s almost certainly because they’re trying to sell you a pricier private boat. Although they have designated stops, the public boats will dock at any jetty they pass on request.

Showing 1 comment

Real-time updating is enabled. (Pause)
Antigua is totally gorgeous, but extremely touristy (think groups of Americans down for a week or so to 'do' Central America) For the real Guatemalan experience, head to Quetzaltenango in the Western Highlands, Guatemala's second biggest city but with none of the issues of the capital. Within near reach of some beautiful volcano hikes and only 2 hours from lake Atitlan it is also one of the cheapest places in the world to study Spanish, with one-on-one classes and lots of after class activities.  And unlike Antigua,  also has a ton of Spanish schools, people in Xela (as Quetzaltenango is know locally) will actually speak to you in Spanish, not English! I loved it and can't wait to get back to Guatemala.
Here is where I studied, Utatlan Spanish School: www.spanishxela.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Engineers Without Borders - USA (EWB-USA) Guatemala Project

Home Projects Guatemala
Guatemala Project

Project Cost
Assessment Cost
Implementation Cost
Funds Needed
NSCI, Guatemala is a village of approximately 4,000 people of Mayan descent and has been in existence since 2000.The town was originally located about 20 km away from its current location. Hurricane Mitch in 1998caused mudslides that destroyed 60-75% of the old village. The new town has access to good roads, decent houses, schools, health centers and farming land, but faces a crucial problem of insufficient water supply for domestic use. The Water Committee of NSCI sought help from EWB-USA and thus the Rutgers Chapter got involved with the project in January 2009. The project has technical and financial support from the local Municipality.  Repair and Redesign of NSCI's Water Supply System is the main goal of the project. EWB-USA Rutgers has conducted three project assessments and one implementation thus far.

The Need

Inhabitants of this 4,000 person community have access to about 30 minutes/day water supply in the dry season and about 2 hours/day in the wet season. This water comes from pump-well and gravity-fed sources which dry up in the summer. The water is insufficient and unclean. However, NSCI has access to a pumped water supply system which failed in 2004. The goal of this project is to repair and redesign the water supply system for NSCI which can provide a 24 hour water supply all year long. It will improve sanitation and overall quality of life for the people in NSCI.

EWB-USA Response

Thorough Assessment
Three assessment trips in August2009, January 2010 and August2010 respectively were carried out to gain a thorough understanding of the problems and solutions for this water supply system. Educational programs about water conservation and sanitation were conducted in schools and community centers. Efforts were made to ensure agreement of all the parties about their responsibilities for the project and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed.
The implementation for this project commenced in March 2011. The community members have committed to provide volunteer labor for the project. The implementation involves construction of concrete chambers to house pumps, repair/replacement of conduction pipeline and installation of new pumps. EWB-USA Rutgers will provide technical expertise and80% of the capital cost for implementation. Projected completion of the implementation is July 2011.
Following Up
The Memorandum Of Understanding, technical training for community members, installation of water meters at every house, a strong operation and maintenance plan by the community, and educational programs are some aspects of this project that will make it sustainable. After implementation, EWB-USA Rutgers plans to receive regular updates from the community about the system and also conduct follow up trips to assess the success of the project.
Moving Forward
EWB-USA Rutgers team is currently focusing on raising the remaining funds for a successful implementation in July 2011. Efforts include a dedicated group of students constantly approaching foundation and corporate sponsors for the project while planning fundraising events on campus. EWB-USA Rutgers is also finalizing some technical aspects of the design by addressing comments made by the Technical Advisory Committee. It is preparing an educational program to be implemented in July 2011 to reinforce the importance of water conservation and sanitation in the community.

Current Project Leads: Natalie Wright
Professional Mentors: Sandra Kutzing, P.E. and David J. Tanzi, P.E.
First & Second Implementation Trip Travel Blog Here

Project Sponsors:

Black water in San Marcos / Agua negra en San Marcos

Gmail Catherine Todd

[SecTurLA] Agua negra en San Marcos
2 messages
aaculaax Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 7:35 PM
Reply-To: atitlan@googlegroups.com
To: atitlan@googlegroups.com
Buenas tardes a todos,

con el crecimiento del lago tenemos mas y mas problemas con las fosas septicas de las casas a la orilla.
Ahora tenemos el caso con un hotel muy conocido en San Marcos. Los duenos y encargados no responden a nuestras preguntas.
La vista y el olor estan insorpotables.
Quien tenemos que contactar para resolver el problema? Que soluciones podemos ofrecer a los duenos?

Muchas gracias

Niels Gronau


Has recibido este mensaje porque estás suscrito a Grupo "Sector
Turístico Del Lago Atitlán" de Grupos de Google.
Si quieres publicar en este grupo, envía un mensaje de correo
electrónico a atitlan@googlegroups.com
Para anular la suscripción a este grupo, envía un mensaje a
Para obtener más opciones, visita este grupo en

ARG Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 9:53 AM
Reply-To: atitlan@googlegroups.com
To: "atitlan@googlegroups.com Sosa"
Cc: "\"Autoridad del lago de Atitlán\"" , solola@marn.gob.gt
Estimado Niels,

Esta situación se va a multiplicar a medida que suba el nivel del lago. Han sido muchas las construcciones que se han hecho a la orilla sin tener en cuenta que el lago sube y baja en ciclo que todavía no podemos determinar.  Basta recordar que frente a Cerro de Oro hay asentamientos humanos a 25 metros de profundidad y que en el pasado el lago ha subido por lo menos unos 20 metros por encima del nivel actual...

Esto no obvia la urgente necesidad de detener la contaminación generada por las fosas sépticas y en general por la disposición de aguas servidas.  Para esto debe contactar directamente a AMSCLAE (7762-4074 o por correo <amsclae@intelnet.net.gt>) que tiene ahora un departamento legal que se encarga de las denuncias ambientales. También se puede denunciar ante el MARN de Sololá, atención Tomás Haroldo Arriola, por medio de una llamada (7762 1857) o de un correo solola@marn.gob.gt.   

En cuanto a soluciones, se pueden ver soluciones temporales como bombear las aguas a un sistemas de tratamiento que esté por encima del nivel del lago.  Las fosas sépticas normalmente deben estar a unos 100 metros del lago para evitar la percolación de las aguas servidas y la eventual contaminación del lago.  Esto dependerá del tipo de suelo que se tenga.  Si es rocoso, el agua no se filtrará y contaminará el lago, así esté a 500 metros de distancia de la orilla.  Así mismo, donde hay suelos aluviales (que pueden ser inundados), suelos que suelen ser arenosos como los de los valles de Panajachel, San Buenaventura, Jaibal o el mismo San Marcos, el agua fluye con facilidad por el subsuelo, algo se filtra, pero eventualmente llega al lago.  Lo ideal es tener un sistema con al menos un 95% de eficiencia y utilizar el agua purificada en jardines o huertos.

Quienes tienen un negocio turístico deben ser particularmente sensibles al hecho de que los visitantes y las aguas servidas tienen que estar separados (los visitantes no se deben / pueden bañar en aguas negras, ni la preparación ni el gusto de los alimentos se mezclan bien con aguas negras, etc).  El futuro de los negocios turísticos depende de un manejo óptimo de las aguas servidas.


Alberto Rivera Gutiérrez
Todos por el Lago
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halt Pollution around Lake Atitlan - Contact Numbers / Detener la contaminación del Lago de Atitlán - Números de contacto

All around Lake Atitlan there is an urgent need to halt the pollution caused by septic tanks and in general for the disposal of wastewater. Contact AMSCLAE (7762-4074 or by e ) which now has a legal department that handles environmental complaints. You can also complain to the MARN in Solola, Harold Thomas Arriola attention through a call (7762 1857) or e-solola@marn.gob.gt.

Todos los alrededores del lago Atitlán hay una necesidad urgente necesidad de detener la contaminación generada por las fosas sépticas y en general por la disposición de aguas servidas. Para esto debe contactar directamente a AMSCLAE (7762-4074 o por correo ) que tiene ahora un departamento legal que se encarga de las denuncias ambientales. También se puede denunciar ante el MARN de Sololá, atención Tomás Haroldo Arriola, por medio de una llamada (7762 1857) o de un correo solola@marn.gob.gt.

Thanks to
Alberto Rivera Gutiérrez
Todos por el Lago


For a report from AMSCLAE, Guatemala on the pollution and cyanobacteria in Lake Atitlan,
see: http://santacruzlalaguna.weebly.com/amsclae-cianobacteria-mayo-2011.html


de DEGUATE.COM. Foros de Guatemala » Ecología & Medio Ambiente » LA AUTORIDAD DEL LAGO DE ATITLÁN (AMSCLAE)


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crime, Corruption Killing Guatemalan Bus Drivers

Be sure to read the comments from people who live in Guatemala, as I do. I too am tired of the sensationalism of the media. Yes, Guatemala does have it’s problems. But Guatemala doesn’t have the same problems all over it’s country, just as the United States doesn’t have the same big city problems all over the U.S. You can’t compare Guatemala City, New York or Chicago to a whole country.Gangs are always a problem in any country and there are many groups here helping Guatemala in their striving for equality and justice.

We live in the highlands in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and it’s wonderful place. Peaceful and harmonious and everyone gets along. Here the men take turns patrolling the streets at night along with the police, and we have no crime. They are not “vigilantes.” They are law abiding members of the community, family men, members of the churches and the city council. This is what is meant by “working together” and “community,” things that are sorely lacking in our culture.

We idolize our criminals in our U.S. history, from criminal CEO’s, Presidents or those robbers and killers from “The Wild West”. Look at Billy the Kid whose legend says he killed 22 people before he was 21 years old. And Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid… What else were they but “gang members?” Read on…

Although no one uses gas cans or "lights matches" here in Panajachel, I like the idea of gangs hearing about this "technique." This my favorite quote out of the whole story below:

Meanwhile, Guatemala's wave of vigilantism community patrols are having its desired effect.

"We don't mess with the people in the provinces," says a 26-year-old former member of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang. "In San Juan, Xela, San Lucas, they're united. If they catch you, they'll pour on gasoline, light a match, and that's it."


Crime, Corruption Killing Guatemalan Bus Drivers

From NPR by Jason Beaubien
June 4, 2009

In Guatemala, bus drivers are being gunned down at an alarming rate. The hazardous situation on Guatemala's buses is a result of a confluence of corruption, crime and poverty. The Guatemalan government pays millions of dollars a year in subsidies to bus owners, yet the battered vehicles on the streets are mostly old school buses from the United States.

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Another story we're following today involves a conflict in Guatemala. In that country, driving a bus can be lethal. Corruption, crime and poverty have led to deadly competition among rival bus owners and have also fueled an extortion racket. Armed gangs demand bribes from the drivers. Drivers who don't pay up often pay with their lives. More than 70 drivers have been killed already this year in Guatemala and the problem is especially bad in the capital, Guatemala City. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

(Soundbite of horn honking)

JASON BEAUBIEN: In Zona Quatro on the northwest edge of Guatemala City, Percida Iguara(ph) is waiting for the Number 70 bus, one day after a driver on the line was assassinated behind the wheel. Iguara is terrified of the public buses, but she doesn't have a car and she says this is the only way to get around.

Ms. PERCIDA IGUARA: (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: We have to ride the buses, but it makes you nervous, she says. You don't know if you're going to return or if you're not going to return. The only thing you can do is put yourself in the hands of God.

The day before, three men in a Toyota Corolla pulled up alongside the Number 70 bus and shot the driver repeatedly in the head. On the same day, another driver on the Number 70 line was assaulted and a 25-year-old driver on a different line was also killed.

Iguara says the situation on Guatemala's buses is out of control.

Ms. IGUARA: (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: If they shoot the driver, just imagine, you don't know what's going to happen, she says. And if you get robbed, that's another story. If you don't have anything to give them, that's bad. She says the robbers might even get nervous and shoot you.

Police say that so far this year more than 70 bus drivers have been murdered behind the wheel in Guatemala, this in a country of less than 14 million people.

Guatemala is a graveyard for old American school buses; aging Blue Birds painted blood red rattle over Guatemala's roads. The long, boxy vehicles cough out clouds of thick, black diesel exhaust. Despite being the primary form of public transportation, Guatemala's bus system is a chaotic, fiercely competitive enterprise.

Drivers rent the vehicles by the day and they get to keep whatever proceeds are left after paying for fuel, protection and a meager salary for a fare collector. The faster you go, the more money you make. And why stick to your route if you can veer off and poach your rival's passengers? Or you could literally just kill your competition.

Mr. ADAIR GUARA(ph) (Union Leader): (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: This is a really ugly mafia, says Adair Guara, the head of a local bus riders union. It's said that some of the bus owners are so viscous that they'll kill their rivals or anyone who discovers their illicit businesses. The owners of the buses get millions of dollars each year from the government to provide public transportation. But Guara says there's no oversight to make sure the subsidized buses are safe or charging the standard rate or even operating on their assigned route.

In addition, local gangs extort protection money or la renta from drivers who pass through their territory. Twenty-four-year-old Luis Enrique Shava(ph), who has been working as a bus assistant for six years, says drivers are scrounging just to make enough to eat. But he says drivers can't get away without paying la renta to the local street gangs.

Mr. ENRIQUE SHAVA (Bus Assistant): (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: If they don't pay the protection money, he says, they can't work. And it's those drivers who suffer, because if they don't pay the gangs will them.

The municipal government in Guatemala says it is trying to change the system. The city's replacing some of the old school buses with clean, new articulated ones. The new vehicles have dedicated lanes on fixed routes, but most importantly, passengers pay at a kiosk before they get on. The drivers carry no cash, and thus they don't have to worry about getting robbed, extorted or shot.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Guatemala City.

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Fed Up, Ordinary Guatemalans Turn To Vigilantism

John Burnett/NPR

All Things Considered

Night patrollers in San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala, say their rounds have chased away the gang members.

Photo Gallery: Violence Against Bus Drivers
Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

The killing of bus drivers is common in Guatemala as local gangs extort fees from drivers. Here, driver Werner Ramirez heads to the funeral of fellow bus driver and company owner Jesus Ubaldo Munoz. Munoz was gunned down in front of his house on the outskirts of Guatemala City.

A bus rests on a street after the murder of its driver and his assistant.
Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

A bus rests on a street after the murder of its driver and his assistant.
It is so common for buses to be attacked that owners often don't bother to repair them.
Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

It is so common for buses to be attacked that owners often don't bother to repair them.
More In The Series

Part 1 reports on gangs in Guatemala and the sicarios — or hitmen — hired to kill their members.

Former Gang Members Talk

"El Flaco" describes his life as a gang member. The 26-year-old claims to have murdered 22 people. Read excerpts from the interview.

"El Cholo" is 20 years old. He has been a member of different gangs — or maras — and says he's killed 10 people. Read excerpts from the interview.

Warning: These interviews are graphic and some may find parts of them disturbing.

Assassins On Their Roles

Christian and Roberto are sicarios, or assassins. Christian left the National Civil Police in April 2008; Roberto left the police in 2000. As sicarios, they estimate they've killed two dozen people between them. Read excerpts from the interview with them.
December 23, 2008

In Guatemala, anger over rampant crime and distrust of the police has led to widespread vigilantism. Though the practice is alarming to human-rights monitors, the public is applauding the efforts, saying they are finally cleaning up their towns.

Last year, the working-class Mayan town of San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala, was overrun with street gangs. Extortionists reportedly went through the phone book — name by name — demanding money and threatening violence against families that didn't pay. Residents complained of an impotent police force and a justice system that releases criminals back into the population.

Taking Back The Streets

Fourteen months ago, the people of San Juan Sacatepequez took matters into their own hands. Every night, men gather in the plaza to go on patrol with machetes, truncheons and two-way radios. On a recent night, a group of 20 men — bundled against the mountain cold, some in balaclavas — walked the darkened, hilly streets of their sector.

The patrol leader, a local veterinarian nicknamed "The Jackal," says the gangbangers have mostly left San Juan Sacatepequez, and their security patrols have been so effective that other cities now want to copy them.

"Right now, nothing happens anymore because they know we're patrolling at night," says The Jackal. "If the delinquents try to rob anyone during the day, everyone in the marketplace has whistles to sound the alarm. And everyone comes out and captures the thief."

And what happens then?

The patrol leaders say they hand the thief over to the police. But San Juan Sacatepequez's police chief, whose officers have effectively been marginalized by the citizen patrols, says there have been six vigilante killings in the 10 months he has been on the job — and an attempted lynching last month. Townspeople caught two Nicaraguans they said were thieves. They tied the men up, stripped them, beat them bloody, and paraded them around town.

"They were at the point of pouring gasoline on them and setting them on fire. But it was avoided when the police intervened," says Arbol Pavilla, local representative of the Office of the National Human Rights Ombudsman. "They were lucky. I saw the gas can with my own eyes."

Residents Welcome 'More Tranquility'

At midnight, a cafe owner invites the patrol in off the streets to warm themselves with coffee and tamales. The owner, Osmar Mancilla, sits by the griddle and considers how things have turned around in San Juan Sacatepequez.

"I have a brother-in-law who had a bad experience with extortion. It was a type of terrorism; they had him afraid all the time," Mancilla says.

"There was so much insecurity in the streets. When you'd leave your house, you never knew if you'd ever return. Since they started these patrols, thank God, things have changed. There's more tranquility," he says.

Did the street gangs flee San Juan Sacatepequez because of the night patrols' presence, or because of the message sent by the vigilante killings — in which gang members were publicly incinerated?

"It's sad, because I think there's divine justice, and the only one who can take a life is God. But there are extreme circumstances. If the police protected the population, there wouldn't be the need for these measures," Mancilla says.

Government Encouraged 'Social Cleansing'

Back out on the street, a burly patroller in a ski mask, nicknamed "El Chino," says, "These people are human garbage. We don't want them around."

A few years ago, the Guatemalan government — frustrated at its police force's inability to control the gangs — encouraged limpieza social, or social cleansing. It was an overt message for communities to organize and dispose of gang members, whose numbers are today estimated at 80,000. What happened, wrote a newspaper columnist recently, was the creation of a societal "Frankenstein."

"The state cannot be plunged into a situation where there is no rule of law. We have a saying: The medicine can be worse than the illness," says Interior Minister Francisco Jimenez. "Social cleansing doesn't solve problems, because the result is impunity."

Jimenez says Guatemala is opening new academies to beef up its police force, which is currently less than half the size needed for a country of 13 million. Human-rights monitors accuse the police of condoning social cleansing, if not actually participating in it.

Meanwhile, Guatemala's wave of vigilantism is having its desired effect.

"We don't mess with the people in the provinces," says a 26-year-old former member of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang. "In San Juan, Xela, San Lucas, they're united. If they catch you, they'll pour on gasoline, light a match, and that's it."


Scott Snelling wrote:

I was disappointed in the tone of sensationalism in this story. I have ridden Guatemala's chicken busses in many parts of the country and always found them to be surprisingly convenient, efficient, and cheap. I spent three months this past winter in Guatemala, much of the time was spent touring on my bicycle. No matter how small of a road I decided to ride down, it was never long before a chicken bus lumbered past me with a load of passengers enveloped in Marimba music.

You spoke of the busses "belching smoke", implying they are bad for the environment. But Guatemala takes our trash busses and patches together a functioning public transportation system; what could greener?

Sat Jun 6 09:28:03 2009

Abram Huyser Honig (CatrachoAlbino) wrote:

I've lived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for five years, all in poorer neighborhoods. All the problems described in the article happen here too. However, Association for a More Just Society, the organization I work with here, has found a much more peaceful, hopeful, successful solution to these problems than anything these articles point to. Four years after we started working in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city, UNDP stats show that murder, rape, and robbery are all down by over 60% (opposite the overall trend in Honduras). It's now one of the only neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa where bus drivers don't pay any "war taxes"--and there's no vigilantism either. Basically, we helped the justice system work like it's supposed to. We hired our own investigators and lawyers to work directly with victims, connect them with trustworthy, committed law-enforcement officials (they really do exist), and do some of the groundwork for police and prosecutors who have upwards of 200 cases assigned to them at once. The result: both gang members and vigilante groups that plagued neighborhood have been convicted and incarcerated, the neighborhood's peaceful, people believe in the justice system.
More at http://www.ajs-us.org/vigilantes.htm

Thu Jun 4 14:04:58 2009

Tomas K (TK57) wrote:

Thanks for doing the story about our buses, but you received a lot of bad information. The country is not updating buses and giving them dedicated lanes. That's one bus route called Transmetro and it's been around for two years.
What the government is trying to do is set up a pre-paid card system that would be installed on all routes.
Secondly, the payment system for drivers varies by company, but generally in the city the bus drivers are on a salary that's negotiated between the drivers union and the companies.
The extortion by gangs is of the companies that own the buses. The drivers are the victims in case the companies don't pay.
By the way, zona 4 is not on the northwest edge of the city.

Thu Jun 4 12:21:28 2009

Amy Mikus (blondamy5)

Amy Mikus (blondamy5) wrote:

No one will deny that Guatemala faces its own set of problems, but I am frustrated with its continued portrayal as nothing more than a dangerous, lawless country full of murders, drug traffickers and violence. What about a story on some of the indigenous communities in the highlands? Or the many NGOs who are working to build roads, bridges, schools, water systems, trade cooperatives, etc.? Limiting the characterization of Guatemala to the problems in Guatemala City is like describing the U.S. only by looking at L.A., Chicago or N.Y.C.; you get some truth but there's so much more to the story. Mr. Beaubien, I am an admirer of NPR and especially its foreign coverage. I will be in Guatemala next week, and if you would like to join me I'd be happy to introduce you to some of the many amazing people and organizations who are working to create hope and opportunity in Guatemala.

Thu Jun 4 09:11:16 2009

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Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.