Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 335 | Junio 2009



The Rosenberg Case: A Guatemalan Labyrinth

“My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano. Unfortunately if you are seeing this message it’s because I was killed by President Álvaro Colom.” The murder of Rosenberg, a respected lawyer, followed by his incredible videotaped accusation, has entangled Guatemala in an intricate political maze at a time when the country is in a severe economic crisis. Is there a way out?

Juan Hernández Pico, SJ

Guatemala’s situation has become even more complex than it was before May 10th, when Rodrigo Rosenberg was murdered, and the next day, when the mass media ran the video he filmed soon before his death.

One must consider a number of different strands in order to decode all this, as with the mythic ball of thread Ariadne gave Theseus so he could free himself from the Minotaur and escape from the labyrinth. These strands interweave in a true web of hypotheses, truths and speculations. The path through this labyrinth is not easy to see clearly.

The first strand: The dispute between
CACIF and cooperative members

One of the threads we need to follow to find the interpretation of this situation is the murder of elderly businessman Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie. As the Musa family’s legal adviser in a number of its commercial activities, Rosenberg was working on Musa’s will and on the investigation into his death.

Musa had been asked to represent President Colomto on BANRURAL’s board, but in the end he didn’t get the position. According to the weekly Inforpress Centroamérica, the Colom government thought it was due to some bad administrative procedure, but Rosenberg indicates in his accusations on the video that it was because Musa refused to cover up “the millions of quetzals of illegal business deals negotiated every day in BANRURAL.”

In 1997, during Álvaro Arzú’s presidency, BANRURAL, successor to an autonomous state-run development bank called BANDESA, became a rural development bank of combined state and private funds. It is where the cooperative movement, especially coffee coops, borrowed an important part of their capital. In his video, Rosenberg alleges that over time BANRURAL has become an entity that launders drug money and is involved in other illegal and fraudulent activities. Rosenberg also alleges that former ANACAFÉ president José Ángel Camposeco, now president of the BANRURAL financial group, has turned a blind eye to such illegal conduct by Fernando Peña, BANRURAL’s board chairman.

The country’s network of cooperatives, especially the coffee cooperative (FEDECOCAGUA), also deposits its funds in BANRURAL. Some time ago the private sector’s representative on the Monetary Board was a member of the cooperative sector through an agreement with the Conferation of Coopertive Fiderations (CONFECOOP), greatly displeasing the traditional representative, a member of CACIF, the big business umbrella organization. The Constitutional Court found in favor of a suit filed by CACIF.

Control of the Monetary Board posts, management of ANACAFE and control of BANRURAL’s business operations were reasons enough for the dispute between the traditional business leaders and the cooperatives, even with their similar neoliberal capitalist thinking, and would be important enough motives for the murder of Musa and his daughter. Inforpress reports that BANRURAL, the second largest and most solid bank in the country, which reports the highest earnings
in the national banking system, is now facing the threat other banks have faced in recent years: a run on deposits and potential bankruptcy, which in the end would benefit other bankers. This leads one to wonder if perhaps the Rosenberg case might be used to liquidate a strategic bank and redistribute its political and financial control.

One hypothesis suggests that Musa’s murder was an attempt to prevent his presence on the BANRURAL board once and for all. This assumes his honesty and fear that he would oppose the fraudulent money laundering manipulations, presumably coordinated by Fernando Peña. Another is that the death of Musa and his daughter might be related to the fight between the traditional capitalists of CACIF and the cooperative capitalists, especially within the coffee sector.

The second strand:
Sandra Colom’s aspirations

A second strand leads us through the maze by a completely different route, although one related to the first strand. More than 30 state-run financial accounts are usually deposited in BANRURAL, among them those of the Social Cohesion Council, directed by the First Lady, Sandra Torres de Colom. It seems that the latter’s trust fund was first offered to Banco Industrial, which did not accept it, apparently due to an inter-bank decision not to support Torres’ social or political aspirations. Instead the money, more than 1.5 billion quetzals, was deposited in BANRURAL.

Inforpress reported that a few days after becoming President, Álvaro Colom presented the Rural Development Plan
in the municipality of Ixcán, Quiché, accompanied by BANRURAL’s two main representatives, both under question today: Fernando Peña and José Ángel López Camposeco. Colom emphatically declared that “BANRURAL will be our administration’s financial arm,” to which López Camposeco added: “We are at the service of the state and want communities to better their living standards.”

Given that the state is the main stockholder in BANRURAL, it wasn’t strange to hear that both the state’s share of the profits and the taxes paid by BANRURAL would be used for social development programs, to be coordinated by Sandra Torres as coordinator of the Social Cohesion Council. BANRURAL’s importance to these social programs is quite clear, given that they are a key aspect of the Colom administration and are political capital for Sandra Torres, constantly reported to be
a presidential aspirant. The attacks and actions against BANRURAL can thus be seen to have a large array of objectives, another of which is that BANRURAL controls 75% of the financial remittances coming in from Guatemalans living outside their country.

On the money laundering “gray list”

The BANRURAL case also opens up questions about financial institutionality. Businesspeople have raised doubts about the investigations the Superintendence of Banks (SIB) and Special Verification Administration (IVE) are to conduct. These entities are in charge of making sure that banks comply with the law against money laundering and other activities. CACIF asked the government to contract an independent international firm to audit BANRURAL. CACIF Vice President Carlos Amador declared that “we made this request to the President the day of the video, which mentions BANRURAL [in connection with] corrupt actions and bad management. It was to dispel these doubts that we asked for the legal audit.”

What is really being questioned, however, is the close tie between Superintendent of Banks Edgar Barquín and the government. CACIF’s request was made in the context of a meeting in Guatemala between the SIB and a delegation from the Caribbean Financial Action Group (CFATF), which is the regional branch for Central America and the Caribbean of the international Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF). The objective of the meeting was to evaluate the progress in the fight against money laundering and terrorism in the country.

Although taken off FATF’s “blacklist” of countries that haven’t cooperated in the fight against money laundering, Guatemala is still on a “gray list” of those that have shown some advances in meeting the 40 recommendations required by the FATF. This means that the Guatemalan national banking system in general is still suffering from the illness attributed only to BANRURAL today.

Something fishy

Inforpress, which seems to have best analyzed Guatemala’s Rosenberg maze, adds what columnist Carmen Escribano de León expressed in a recent article inEl Periódico: “I believe there’s something fishy in the great eagerness to bankrupt BANRURAL following the cowardly murder of Rosenberg.” Stronger yet was the statement the same day by columnist Dina Fernandez, who alludes to the 2006 bankruptcy that ended the presidential aspirations of Eduardo González, son of BANCAFÉ’s founder and at the time President Oscar Berger’s private secretary. “Hence we can’t rule out that remnants
of the hidden tensions that have existed among the bankers since BANCAFÉ’s liquidation are being dragged into all of
this. It seems that the President’s private secretary, Gustavo Alejos, asked Mr. Musa to stand in the midst of those hurricane winds. The investigation must take the lid off this huge pot, but it’s scary to think what they’ll find.”

This second strand leads us to the second hypothesis: the ambitions of certain sectors to take control of BANRURAL. While in itself a sufficiently desired prize, doing so would also cut off the base of the Social Cohesion Council’s trust fund, the profitable venture on which Sandra Torres de Colom is basing her aspirations to run for President in 2011.

The third strand: Conspiratorial
manipulation of Rosenberg’s pain?

The third strand that might lead us out of the maze is a romantic-pathological-political one. The death of Khalil Musa’s daughter Marjorie seems to have been due to the unintentional ricocheting of a bullet. But it is important because Musa’s lawyer Rosenberg, divorced from his wife who lives in Mexico with their children, was apparently engaged in a romantic relationship with her that was about to become more permanent. Given his grief due to his multifaceted relationship to the Musa family, Rosenberg might have been led to believe that a conspiracy lay behind the killing of Musa and his daughter.

In fact Rosenberg mentioned four other people in the video in addition to President Colom as responsible in some way for his death: Gustavo Alejos, the President’s technical adviser and personal secretary, known to be involved in contraband weapons; Gregorio Valdés, an entrepreneur in construction and other businesses whom former DEA agent Celerino Castillo mentioned as being involved in drug trafficking; and José Angel López Camposeco and Fernando Peña, both mentioned earlier.

Inforpress Centroamérica describes them as follows: “Gustavo Alejos was a financier of the UNE Party in 2007. He was the general manager and legal representative of the business Conjunto Magno, part of the business conglomerate of the Cohen group, financier of various governments and the principal provider of state medicines. In the case of Gregorio Valdés, it has been extensively documented that he has business dealings in the construction and telecommunications sectors, supplies police and military equipment and air transportation and also has ties to organized crime and drug trafficking. He is part of the Valdés business group, where his brother, José Luis, President of the Agromercantil Bank, is prominent. Both López and Peña are friends of Colom.”

If one compares the video with a written text also left by the murdered lawyer, there is a contradiction: in one of them he states that Colom and his wife are the intellectual authors of the murder and in the other that they are only image-cleaning associates of those who committed the crime. If what Frida Modak, once Chilean President Salvador Allende’s press secretary, says in another analysis is true, i.e. that Rodrigo Rosenberg was known since his youth to be suffering from bipolar disorder, it is not unlikely that in pain and perhaps during one of his bouts of this illness, Rosenberg might have been manipulated by sinister forces that want to use his murder and that of the Musas to destroy certain political figures.

The fourth strand: two conspirators

Luis Mendizábal, former director of the “Little Office,” an organization parallel to the old Presidential Chiefs of Staff, is an intelligence expert with connections to the military establishment that go way back. Together with Mario David García, he instigated the failed coups in 1988 and 1989 against President Vinicio Cerezo and his treasury secretary, Rodolfo Paiz, to stop a major tax reform. Both Mendizábal and García were around Rodrigo Rosenberg in those crucial hours of his life.

Mendizábal confessed to being the one who suggested that his testimony be filmed and was the person who distributed copies of the video at Rosenberg’s burial while García admitted having filmed it. When President Álvaro Colom states that the accusations in the video are part of a conspiracy to destabilize the Guatemalan state, his assertion has a certain amount of credibility precisely because of the involvement of these two men in the video, making its content very suspicious. It is not improbable that they manipulated Rosenberg for their own dishonorable economic and political ends.

Both have impressive dossiers of conspiratorial services for Guatemala’s right wing. Mario David García founded the School of Communication Sciences at the Francisco Marroquín University (UFM), and was the 1985 presidential candidate for the Authentic National Central Party, originally founded to promote General Carlos Arana Osorio’s candidacy in 1970. Francisco Goldman, author of The Art of Political Murder (2007), who investigated the assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi in April 1998, states that Luis Mendizábal connected Major D’Aubuisson, founder of the right-wing ARENA party in El Salvador, with Mario Sandoval Alarcón, secretary general of the National Liberation Movement (MLN), in 1980. Sandoval himself calls the MLN “the party of organized violence” and says that the Little Office “seeks mainly to distort from within the legal system any judicial processes that threaten the army or those who support it.”

Luis Mendizábal is married to a descendent of the Matis Regalado family, one of El Salvador’s most exclusive families. In recent years, according to Inforpress, he has gotten close to UFM founder and former president, Manuel Ayau. He is also close to Anzueto Vielman, a well-known landowner who assisted and financially supported the army in its repression during Guatemala’s civil struggle, and to retired General Marco Tulio Espinosa Contreras, former head of the Presidential Chiefs of Staff and the Army Chiefs of Staff, and defense minister under President Alvaro Arzú. All these men were founders of Pro-Reforma, a movement committed to reforming the 1985 Guatemalan Constitution, one of the most progressive on the continent.

The fifth strand:
An epidemic of death threats

Both Mendizábal and General Otto Pérez Molina, secretary general of the Patriotic Party and the presidential candidate Álvaro Colom defeated in 2007, have reported threats against their lives, as has Roxana Baldetti, head of the Patriotic Party’s congressional bench. Two hit men appear to have been involved in Rosenberg’s murder, one of whom tried to up his price, supposedly from Roxana Baldetti, when he realized the magnitude of the plot behind this crime. Failing to get his price, he turned state’s evidence and became a protected witness. Baldetti used the other one to discredit him, and is now accusing him of trying to kill Otto Pérez Molina and herself.

It seems strange that General Pérez Molina didn’t use the opportunity to report this to Organization of American States Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, during his two-day fact-finding visit to Guatemala in late May. When asked why he didn’t, Molina answered that he didn’t want to disturb Insulza’s investigations. Might this epidemic of death threats be a fifth strand to lead us out of the maze?

The sixth strand: Interests that
want to thwart Torres’ candidacy

Cui bonum, which is to say, the question of who would profit most from the fall of the presidential couple, brings us to the sixth strand that might lead us out of the labyrinth.

In my opinion, Álvaro Colom’s life history doesn’t make his involvement in these murders plausible. In any event one must consider him innocent until or unless he is accused, tried and found guilty based on an investigation such as the one
being conducted by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in cooperation with Guatemala’s Public Ministry. Nor can one ignore the Torres family’s history of social commitment.

One must, however, bear in mind that the Social Cohesion funds managed by Sandra Torres de Colom can improve people’s situation, especially in isolated parts of the country and the city slums, in these times of severe financial and economic crisis in which a majority of people are suffering from high levels of unemployment. This could provide her with favorable credentials for launching a presidential candidacy in 2011.

Current polls show Torres appealing to 28% of those who plan to vote in 2011, while General Otto Pérez Molina only pulls 6% and Pastor Harold Caballeros 4%. That makes Sandra Torres the person to bring down politically for now. Allegations against her husband alone would help to break down the institutionality of the state and make her less or completely unable to move ahead with her social programs or her bid for the presidency should he resign or be convicted.

In this hypothesis some sector of the Guatemalan Right would have been so deeply annoyed by the Social Cohesion Programs, considering them a contagious disease of Hugo Chávez’s 21st-century socialism, that it is willing to stop them at all cost. Sandra Torres’ political downfall would almost inevitably favor presidential candidate Otto Pérez Molina, a retired general who has led one of the social movements against Colom and his wife.

The seventh strand
Opposition youth groups

There were demonstrations against Colom in the Plaza de Italia on the Sundays of April 17 and 24 while those who supported the President and his wife gathered in the Plaza de la Constitución. A number of the youth groups booed Otto Pérez Molina, Dr. Suger and Dr. Giammatei, candidates in the 2007 presidential elections who were there trying to keep the situation calm. It is important to state that some of the youth groups within the political mobilizations against President Colom and his wife had already formed before this scandal while others have come together because of it.

It’s also important to point out that the demands of this youth movement, which came together in Facebook and Twitter, have been moving from direct attacks on Colom and calls for his resignation to demands to end impunity and resolve the legal cases of the Musas, Rosenberg and the more than 70 murdered bus drivers. Some observers consider these youth “wannabis” crazy for wealth and the aristocracy, but many others think these movements can bring active social forces to bear against the problem of impunity. These horrendous homicides may become a powerful lever that could even shake up organized crime.

Still other observers are struck by the consolidation of another group around this scandal: that of Libertarians like Marta Yolanda Díaz Durán, Giovanni Fratti and Estuardo Zapeta, who are circling around Mario David García and the UFM. There is fear of the strength this group is gathering for itself, the Pro Patriotic League and the Pro Reforma Group, and concern that it could give rise to a homegrown fascist movement. This seventh strand might be of help in finding our way out of the maze.

The eighth strand:
CICIG’s difficult role

Institutionally, the main hopes have been placed on the presence in Guatemala since August 2007 of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), presided over by the Spanish lawyer and judge, Carlos Castresana, a United Nations appointee. He has already said his team’s investigations show that 98% of the crimes in Guatemala go unpunished and that he hopes the crime against Rosenberg is in the 2% that are punished and resolved.

Castresana and CICIG are investigating other prominent crimes and offenses, among them accusations of fraud and embezzlement against former President Alfonso Portillo, who was extradited from Mexico. However, Castresana has made
it very clear that his and CICIG’s role is only to assist and that responsibility for carrying through with the legal procedures surrounding these investigations against impunity falls to Guatemala’s Public Ministry and judicial branch as a whole.
On the other hand, there are rumors that his decisive manner and outspoken way of talking are not appreciated in some quarters of the UN and that he’s been warned about it.

According to an analysis by the Myrna Mack foundation, “If the investigations by Castresana and CICIG find some direct
or indirect connection between the government and the Musa-Rosenberg murders, and with the muddy business deals in BANRURAL, it would become a UN structure that puts the government in total crisis. If these investigations find conspiracies and the origins of the murders in the opposition, they will likewise find themselves in the midst of a serious political crisis. If, finally, they don’t clarify what happened, they will lose support and legitimacy and be questioned even more.”

Resolution of these difficult alternatives could be the eighth strand to help us out of this new crisis.

The ninth strand:
A breakdown of institutionality

The support that Guatemala’s institutionality and rule of law have found in the OAS and the countries that make it up may eventually be an important fire-screen to stop the conspiratorial intrigues surrounding the Rosenberg case. However, the damage already caused to this institutionality by the murdered lawyer’s videotape will be difficult to repair unless it ends in an unexpected solution.

The value of many of the assertions in this analysis depends upon whether or not they are true. Most of the allegations up to now are mere assumptions. We choose not to repeat here the undignified actions of star news commentator Patricia Janiot, who corralled President Colom in an interview the day the video appeared in the media and treated him on camera as if his guilt were already a proven fact. She further showed her disrespect by making him wait three times to continue the interview while programmed commercials were aired. I can’t deny feeling a profound annoyance and can only wonder if she would have dared corner President George W. Bush the same way when the photographs of torture inflicted by US soldiers and officials on Iraqi prisoners in Abu Graib prison were being made public in the media worldwide.

We have to repeat that all those accused or mentioned in the Rosenberg case are innocent until proven guilty. There is, however, no doubt that public opinion, above all well-informed citizens, have reasonable suspicions of some of these people and can contribute facts and motives leading to the prosecution of the crime.

A political crisis in the
midst of an economic one

We can’t forget the context in which this labyrinth has formed. The political crisis of institutionality into which the Rosenberg case has submerged Guatemala is occurring in the midst of a global financial and economic crisis aggravated by a huge national fiscal crisis. In the first three months of the year, for which there is already data, the country’s fiscal income has contracted severely and will probably lead to a cut in social spending, insolvency and the government’s inability to meet payments.

Ten years of fighting against poverty could be lost in two years if the crisis goes on and the government is unable to deal with it. The total poverty rate (poverty + extreme poverty) was 56.1% of the population in 2000 and had dropped to 50.9% by 2006. Experts consider that two months lag time in the US economic recovery will mean 6-8 months for Guatemala. In Chile, for example, the national savings fund set aside US$4 billion of its US$40 billion to deal with the crisis. In Guatemala that would mean having to ask Congress for US$1.8 billion in state appropriations.

Guatemala has $5 billion in reserves, 8.5 years of interest payments on the foreign debt and is one of the countries with the smallest foreign debt. But the Bank of Guatemala cannot lend money to the state as a consequence of a 1994 amendment to the Constitution, which allows an exception only in case of a declared public disaster, and even then it must be approved by two thirds of the Congress. In these circumstances the cost of the state taking on a debt is extremely high (7-8 % interest) whereas it could take on a debt with the Bank of Guatemala at 3% if it were constitutionally allowed.

The assumptions in drawing up the present budget were a 2% growth rate, fiscal reforms, international support loans—
some important budgetary loans had been negotiated with the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank before the crisis—and increased tax collection. What had not been foreseen was the drop in tax collection, which in fact coincided with Carolina Roca’s departure from the Tax Administration Division. “They’re not going to be able to collect what is needed,” declared Hugo Maúl, a CACIF consultant. And this became a self-fulfilling prophecy that came to pass probably because it was also suggested that “we’re not going to pay…” Civil society would have to demand the execution of the loans.

Poverty relief through
Social Cohesion

The First Lady’s “My Family Progresses” program is at the center of the debate in Guatemala, but the International Monetary Fund supports it because this money transfer is the only thing alleviating the crisis of the poor in the country. On the other hand, if the proposal to regularize part-time work, which was supported by Oscar Berger’s neoliberal government, is put into effect, it could become a time bomb in a country where even the minimum wage is often not paid. It would simply be a catastrophe.

The present government is conscious of the situation and the threat of the crisis. It has already proposed austerity programs, such as cutting the national budget by 4-5 billion quetzals for this year. The only national emergency plan consists
of 4 points: Investment in infrastructure (COVIAL) of over a billion quetzals, free education and health care, “My Family Progresses” as part of the Social Cohesion project, and rural development.

Experts confirm that the First Lady, as coordinator of the Social Cohesion project, has already disbursed 22% of her budget between January and April, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, for example, has barely disbursed 2% of
its. The important question is: “Is there corruption in the Social Cohesion project?” The hypothesis, as cynical as it may seem, is that there’s always corruption on all state levels inthe form of some kind of commission providers have to pay. But
the reality is that even with the corruption, tennis shoes, food bags or gas coupons keep reaching people.

A weak state at the service
of a large private enterprise

Behind this reality is a second very important contextual factor: the state model that has been in effect forever in Guatemala. It is a state that is strong only when it comes to repression but weak with respect to socially intervening in the economy. The model has always been small state/large private enterprise. In this model the President of the Republic is almost like the temporary CEO of a private company. And this model isn’t changing; there’s no proposal to deal with the political dimension of the crisis.

Thus it is extremely urgent to hammer out a fiscal agreement that brings a far-reaching structural fiscal reform to put us on the level of the world’s normal states. Dionisio Gutiérrez, co-owner of the Bosch- Gutiérrez Multiinvestment Group, one of the country’s most powerful economic groups, acts not only as moderator of the program “Free Encounter,” but also takes part in the debate. He generally labels as backwards and out-of-touch anyone advocating an increase in taxes. And he’s right if you compare his position with the neoliberalism of George W. Bush, who constantly reduced the income taxes of those with large personal fortunes and the capital gains taxes of the large transnationals. But there’s no reasonable argument against taxes if you look at President Obama’s measures or the realities imposed for years in Chile (18% tax on the Gross National Product); Spain (30%); Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark (more than 40%); France (40%), etc.

What is to be done?

What else should we do? We must face the thorny problem of state fiscal sustainability with an authentic tax reform. If we don’t, the state will continue to be structurally weak and won’t respond to the social needs of the majority. We must take on the problem of the Bank of Guatemala and its inability to loan the state money. In addition, we need to consolidate the regulatory role of the state and the joint liability economy, directing the economy towards markets with promise and reinvigorating the economy while really taking care of the environment.

If Congress doesn’t approve the issuing of state bonds and the contracting of some loans before September, the state won’t be able to pay many of its employees’ salaries in October. If we find ourselves hit by a catastrophe such as a hurricane, flooding or the loss of crops, Guatemala’s situation could become very tragic. An emergency plan needs to be drawn up for the worst possible situation—a national collapse.

There is one hopeful note: the coming together of the agendas of sectors that traditionally haven’t worked together in the area of rural development—environmentalists, farmers, women and indigenous peoples. There has been little proactive outcome, but the dialogue is already fruitful and is bringing people together.

At any rate, these opportunities aren’t going to materialize without political will and without a proposal. As an example: despite the fact that the information access law had already passed, the Chamber of Construction was the first to come to the government to object to the publication of their contracts.

A culture of violence and
the invasion of drug trafficking

The third contextual factor has to do with the terrible culture of violence that Guatemala has lived with since the time of the Conquest. However, this violence was greatly reinforced during the internal armed conflict thanks to the scorched earth policy and brutal massacres of an extremely violent state.

Now, with this new political crisis, there are other sources of violence: the cooptation of gangs by large drug dealers and massive environmental and territorial insecurity in the interior of the country. This insecurity is primarily due to the fast growing number of “drug farms,” many of them cattle ranches in the Northern Transversal Strip and areas watered by the Moagua River. People connected to drug trafficking in the department of Izabal buy farms in areas bordering on Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Environmental observers in the forest reserves have come across military encampments with 30 to 40 people. They are creating “narco-guerrillas” to challenge the state’s monopoly on violence.

This very serious situation may have been the result of pressure from Colombia and Mexico against the drug cartels. To avoid being caught they have increased their presence in Central America, especially Guatemala. They act the way the traditional “Robin Hood” bandits did. For example, they have financed the only hemodialysis machine and a university extension in the municipality of Morales, Izabal. On the other hand, they are increasingly intrusive, throwing tenant farmers off the farms. Twenty communities have disappeared in the Northern Transversal Strip and five in the Motagua Valley in the region of Manabique. FUNDAECO legalizes the farms and following that the new owners sign over their lands to the drug traffickers.

The destruction of the system by which tenant farmers cultivate the land poses a serious food security problem, which will become even more serious because conflicts in Guatemala and the rest of the region will increasingly be concentrated around the issues of food security, the human impact of disasters, water scarcity and other environmental problems. Meanwhile organized crime offers work and food with wages that the state can’t possibly pay any of its employees.

Obstacles in the maze

The global economic crisis, the absence of a plan to reform the model of a weak state and the culture of violence upon which is superimposed the invasion of the drug traffickers can all be found in the maze in which Guatemala is trapped. All of these are very difficult obstacles to overcome in order to win the fight against impunity and strengthen the institutionality of a rule of law.

Juan Hernández Pico, sj., is envío’s correspondent in Guatemala.

Print text   

Send text

<< Previous   Next >>


El Salvador and Nicaragua: So Near and Yet So Far


So Far the AA Is of No Use to Us

Are We Surfing the Internet Or Have We Run Aground?

El Salvador
Disputing the Underpinnings of Impunity

The Rosenberg Case: A Guatemalan Labyrinth

The Legion of Christ: A Rotten Fruit

América Latina
Fernando Lugo: Irresponsibility and Machismo
Envío a monthly magazine of analysis on Central America
GüeGüe: Web Hosting and Development