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Indigenous Mayans win stunning repeal of hated 'Monsanto Law'
19 October 2015 - The success of the Guatemalan people in defending their food sovereignty and stopping 'Monsanto Law' is an inspiring example that people, when united, can overpower even the largest of corporations. A new law was passed in Guatemala in June 2015 that would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies such as Monsanto. The opposition brought together a diverse set of people from across the Central American nation. On 2 September, a large group of Mayan indigenous people blocked several streets in front of the Congress and demanded the immediate overturn of the law. Coinciding with several court injunctions in order to stop the new law from taking effect, the peaceful protests finally ended on 4 September 2015, after ten days, when the Congress of Guatemala repealed the law. (more)

Guatemala: Organic farming revolutionizing Guatemalan communities
26 September 2014 - Aid group Blessing International is helping people in Guatemala grow tasty organic vegetables -- food to nourish their families and to sell in the market. The farming techniques the aid group teaches can literally revolutionize a low-income agricultural community. Upscale restaurants prefer organic vegetables, which enhance their menus and their profits. (more)

Guatemalan indigenous designs win new respect
22 September 2013 - With their brightly coloured fabrics filled with animals and landscapes, Guatemala's indigenous had long used textiles to tell stories and share their visions of the universe. Now, embroidered Mayan textiles known as huipiles are undergoing a revival in some of the country's finest boutiques as they become a haute couture fixture. Young Guatemalan designers are using them for everything from evening gowns and purses to handmade shoes sold as far away as Dubai. (more)

Giant Maya carvings found in Guatemala
11 August 2013 - Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below an ancient stucco frieze recently unearthed in the buried Maya city of Holmul in the Peten region of Guatemala. Sunlight from a tunnel entrance highlights the carved legs of a ruler sitting atop the head of a Maya mountain spirit. The enormous frieze-which measures 26 feet by nearly 7 feet (8 meters by 2 meters) -- depicts human figures in a mythological setting, suggesting these may be deified rulers. It was discovered in July in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul. (more)

Guatemala's homicide rate falls for third year in a row
2 January 2013 - Homicides in Guatemala, which has one of the world's highest murder rates, fell in 2012 for a third year as authorities ramped up their battle against Mexican drug cartels and other organized criminals, the security ministry said on Wednesday 2 January. (more)

Guatemala: Unprecedented Maya mural found, contradicts 2012 'Doomsday' myth
12 May 2012 - In the last known largely unexcavated Maya megacity, archaeologists have uncovered the only known mural adorning an ancient Maya house, a new study says-and it's not just any mural. In addition to a still vibrant scene of a king and his retinue, the walls are rife with calculations that helped ancient scribes track vast amounts of time. Contrary to the idea the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012, the markings suggest dates thousands of years in the future. Perhaps most important, the otherwise humble chamber offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Maya society. (more)

Guatemala: Newly discovered calendars give insight into Maya culture
10 May 2012 - Newly discovered wall writings found in Guatemala show the famed Maya culture's obsession with cycles of time. But they also show calendars that go well beyond 2012, the year when the vanished civilization, according to popular culture, expected the end of the world. 'So much for the supposed end of the world,' says archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University, lead author of a study in the journal Science, which reported the discovery on Thursday. (more)

Maya lunar calendar notes discovered in Guatemala show world continuting on for octillions of years
10 May 2012 - On the wall of a tiny structure in Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered a scribe's notes about the Maya lunar calendar, which they say could be the first known records by an official chronicler of this ancient civilization. These notes pertain to the same Maya calendar that is sometimes erroneously thought to predict the world's end on or about 22 December 2012. The researchers who helped uncover and decipher the wall's inscriptions said the Maya calendar foresaw a vast progression of time, with the December 2012 date the beginning of a new calendar cycle called a baktun. 'The Maya calendar is going to keep going and keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future, a huge number that we can't even wrap our heads around,' said William Saturno of Boston University, an author of an article on the find in the journal Science. (more)

Guatemala: Lost city revealed under centuries of jungle growth
30 April 2011 - Hidden for centuries, the ancient Maya city of Holtun, or Head of Stone, is finally coming into focus. Three-dimensional mapping has 'erased' centuries of jungle growth, revealing the rough contours of nearly a hundred buildings, according to research presented earlier this month. (more)

Guatemala: Discovery of huge Mayan sculpture suggests significant city
25 January 2010 - Archaeologists have discovered a huge Mayan sculptured head in Guatemala that suggests a little-known site in the jungle-covered Peten region may once have been a significant city. The recent discovery of the head, which dates from the early Classic period between 300 to 600 AD, means the site is much older than previously thought. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Mayan community in Guatemala embraces Transcendental Meditation
15 November 2011 - In the past few years, hundreds of people in the Mayan indigenous community of Guatemala have learned the Transcendental Meditation Programme and one of its advanced techniques, Yogic Flying. This represents an important step forward, not only for the Mayan community, but also for the country. Guatemala has a history of war, conflict, and violence, but with the peaceful, coherent influence created by hundreds of practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and Yogic Flying, many feel this violence will soon come to an end. (more)

Programmes to support peace and stability bear fruit in Guatemala
23 August 2011 - The foundation for invincible peace, prosperity, and progress will soon be established in Guatemala, when sufficient numbers of people are practising Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes together in coherence-creating groups, including in schools and rehabilitation centres of the Mayan people. (more)

Guatemala: Youth in schools, probation centres thrive with Transcendental Meditation, promote peace in their nation
11 July 2011 - In the last six months, many young people in orphanages, probation centres, and schools in Guatemala have been learning the Transcendental Meditation Programme. The country has been plagued by high levels of violence, and through their group meditations, students are helping to create an invincible influence of coherence, harmony, and peace throughout the nation. (more)

Invincibility for Guatemala through the Mayan schools and families of El Estor
18 May 2008 - Speaking recently on Maharishi's Global Family Chat, Raja Jose Luis Alvarez, Raja of Latin America for the Global Country of World Peace, reported on the new programme to create invincibility in Guatemala that has started in the town of El Estor. (more)


Flops
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Guatemalan mine dispute militarizes region
1 June 2013 - The neighbours of the San Rafael silver mine no longer come out of their homes for fear of the machine-gun toting troops and police who man checkpoints in these green, wooded mountains. The plaza in the town of San Rafael Las Flores, where the community used to mingle, is now deserted. The fear that rules this terrain, where residents are mostly Xinca Indians, recalls the bad old days of the country's three-decade-long civil war, which killed as many as 200,000 people. But what's brought in the troops this time are protests over plans by Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources Inc to tap what the company says is one of the five largest silver deposits in the world. Protesters say the project, called El Escobal, will drain or pollute the local water supply, and hundreds of people have blocked roads and burned buildings to stop it from going forward. That's tested President Otto Perez Molina, who sent in hundreds of troops and suspended the right to hold public gatherings in four townships near the mine in early May. It was the second time during his 16 months in office that he has declared a state of siege in response to protests against a foreign-run mining project. With violence rising, the mine protests have now emerged not only as a threat to Perez Molina's young administration but also a warning to other foreign companies seeking to invest in the region. The residents of San Rafael, however, say they're been left with no choice but to fight. They also accuse the government of favouring foreign investors over communities. (more)

Guatemala's top court annuls Rios Montt genocide conviction
20 May 2013 - Guatemala's highest court on Monday overturned a genocide conviction against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and reset his trial back to when a dispute broke out a month ago over who should hear the case. Rios Montt, 86, was found guilty on 10 May of overseeing the killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population during his 1982-83 rule. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison. However, in a ruling on Monday, the country's Constitutional Court ordered that all the proceedings be voided going back to 19 April. Ana Caba, an ethnic Ixil who survived the civil war after fleeing her home, was stunned by the Constitutional Court's decision. 'I'm distressed,' she told Reuters. 'I don't know what's happening. That's how this country is. The powerful people do what they want and we poor and indigenous are devalued. We don't get justice. Justice means nothing for us.' (more)

Guatemalans live in fear again as drug gangs move in
7 October 2011 - Fifteen years after the end of a brutal civil war in Guatemala that sent tens of thousands of people fleeing to Mexico, refugees are again camping at the border. But these days they are running from a new kind of conflict -- the occupation by drug traffickers of large swathes of Guatemala's territory. Mexican cartels working with local gangs control around 40 per cent of Guatemala. ``There are parts of Guatemala that have been abandoned by the state, where there are no public services, that are being taken over by the capos,'' said Francisco Dall'Anese, who heads a special United Nations panel on corruption in Guatemala. 95 per cent of South America cocaine passes through Guatemala on its way to Mexico and then to the United States. The army says it is now outgunned by cartels after 1996 peace accords shrunk its ranks, and their job is made harder as the Zetas lure some of their former colleagues to their side. The Zetas were formed by deserters from an elite Mexican army unit and look to recruit other well-trained military men. (more)

Guatemala: Massacre work of Mexico drug gang Zetas
16 May 2011 - Guatemalan authorities on Monday blamed a weekend of violence in which 27 ranch workers lost their lives, on the Mexican drug cartel, the Zetas, which has set up shop in Guatemala and brought its terror tactics to the rural indigenous area along the Mexican border. Investigators are looking into ties between the ranch owner, Otto Salguero, and drug trafficking, but none of the victims had ties to drug cartels, authorities said. Rather they were innocent ranch workers and their families caught up in an increasingly bloody war mirroring the Zetas quest for territory in Mexico. Two women and two children were among the dead. Mexican drug cartels now operate virtually uninhibited in Central America. (more)

Guatemala extends state of siege in violent north
18 January 2011 - Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom says he is extending a state of siege in a violent province on the border with Mexico that has been taken over by Mexico's brutal Zetas drug gang. Colom says the monthlong state of siege that began on 19 December when hundreds of police and soldiers were sent to Alta Verapaz province has been successful but that he'll extend it an extra month 'because more needs to be done.' The Zetas began controlling cocaine traffic in the area in 2008 after killing Guatemalan drug boss Juan Jose 'Juancho' Leon. (more)

Drug gang suspects threaten 'war' in Guatemala
28 December 2010 - Men claiming to belong to the Zetas drug gang forced radio stations to broadcast a threat of war in a northern Guatemalan province where the government declared a state of siege last week, authorities said Tuesday. The message, which the radio broadcasters read out Monday, threatened violence if Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom does not fulfill unspecified promises. It said 'war will start in this country, in shopping malls, schools, and police stations.' Residents in the city of Coban say gangs roam the streets with assault rifles and armoured vehicles, extorting and kidnapping people. Shootouts have become a daily occurrence. (more)

Gunshot victims overwhelm Guatemala emergency room
27 December 2010 - Many nights, especially on weekends and paydays, the main public hospital in violence-wracked Guatemala City is flooded with patients suffering from stabbing or gunshot wounds. Massive numbers of cases have stretched the San Juan de Dios Hospital, the city's largest, to the breaking point. The medical facility, along with the city's Roosevelt Hospital, treated 1,224 gunshot and knife-wound patients from January to November this year. Guatemala, with a homicide rate of 50 per 100,000 people annually, is one of the most violent countries in the Western Hemisphere, exceeded only by Honduras, El Salvador, and Venezuela. Health Minister Ludwig Ovalle says treating victims of violence costs about $44 million, or about 10 per cent of the department's total annual budget. (more)

Guatemala rejects war on impunity
14 November 2010 - In this nation whose murder rate more than triples that of Mexico, judges and prosecutors are underpaid, underprotected, and under attack by organized crime. Guatemala teeters on the edge of failed-state status. Yet a UN-backed investigative team that has by all counts been highly effective in prosecuting criminals is suddenly meeting stiff resistance from the very people who should stand to gain from a stronger rule of law: Guatemala's political and business elite. The pushback comes as nearly half the territory in a country of 14 million is controlled by drug gangs and other criminals, with violence even at the capital's swankiest addresses. More than 96 per cent of murders go unsolved. 'We live in a terrifying anarchy,' psychologist Oscar Quintero said. (more)

Former Guatemalan President charged in US
26 January 2010 - Alfonso Portillo, the fugitive former President of Guatemala, was charged in the United States on Monday with using foreign banks to launder millions of dollars plundered from charity and government coffers. Portillo is accused of 'converting the office of the Guatemalan Presidency into his personal ATM,' US Attorney Preet Bharara of New York said in a statement. The disgraced politician already was facing embezzlement charges in his own country. An indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan alleges the four-year scheme began in 2000, when Portillo began embezzling $1.5 million in donations from Taiwan. In 2001, Portillo conspired with two members of the Guatemalan military -- an unnamed colonel in charge of his security detail and an intelligence officer -- to embezzle millions of dollars from the government, US prosecutors say. (more)

Budget woes weaken Guatemala army in drugs war
3 October 2009 - The economic crisis has squeezed Guatemala's coffers and left the army strapped for cash and scrambling to pay for gear and supplies as it tries to battle rich and well-armed drug cartels. In the vast Peten jungle in northern Guatemala, drug gangs operate with impunity, laying clandestine landing strips for planes loaded with South American cocaine which is then trucked over the porous border with Mexico and up to the United States. Three-quarters of South American cocaine smuggled north goes via Central America. Much passes through Guatemala's Peten region and the cartels buy off army officers, police, judges, and politicians to protect their interests. (more)

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