Stories written by Danilo Valladares

Guatemala’s ‘Femicide’ Courts Hold Out New Hope for Justice

Douglas Cuc, a 32-year-old clown, entered the courtroom with the same smile on his face as when he told jokes for coins on the buses in the town of San Miguel Petapa, near the Guatemalan capital. But this time there was no greasepaint on his face, he did not wear his clown's nose, and he was in handcuffs.

Renewable Energy Alliance Stretches From Germany to Central America

A recent agreement between El Salvador and Germany, with the latter supporting two renewable energy projects that would increase installed capacity in the Central American country by 94.2 megawatts by 2013, points to a promising alliance for carbon-free energy.

Big Landowners Block Rural Development Law in Guatemala

An “integral rural development law” to promote access to land, employment and other rights for small farmers is bogged down in the Guatemalan Congress due to opposition from large landowners, who see it as an attempt at land reform.

Deforestation Wreaks Havoc in Guatemala’s Caribbean Region

"Many tourists come to this area for bird watching, but the terrible deforestation is leading to the disappearance of so much of our flora and fauna. The cleared land is used for cattle ranching,” said Haroldo Figueroa, who works as a guide in nature reserves along Guatemala’s Caribbean coast.

Deaf Ear Turned to Local Opposition to Mines in Guatemala

As the mining industry booms in Guatemala, local communities are increasingly opposed to the operations of the mainly foreign companies because of the potential negative effects on the environment and on their villages.

Call centres are a booming activity in Guatemala. Credit: BY 2.0

Directing Your Call in Guatemala

"I was surprised at how hard it was to learn more English. I had looked for work in a bank, but I would have earned only half what I make here, and I'd have had to work more hours," said Carlos de León from his cubicle in a call centre, part of a rapidly growing industry in Guatemala.

New Era Augurs More of the Same for Impoverished Maya People

The Maya Indians of Central America and Mexico will have little to celebrate when the current era comes to an end on Dec. 21. The extreme poverty and marginalisation they face contrast sharply with the plans for lavish celebrations to lure tourists.

China Invests in Central America – But Isn’t Buying

From satellites to inter-oceanic canals, the most innovative or ambitious investments in Central America are coming from China - even though six of the seven countries in this sub-region do not have diplomatic ties with the Asian giant.

Zero Hunger Plan in Guatemala Still Grounded

"I heard about the Zero Hunger plan on television, but unfortunately it has not arrived here," complained Elías Ruíz, a small farmer in the southern community of Santa Odilia, about the Guatemalan government's flagship programme to end poverty.

Gang Truce Can Break Down, Prevention Should Be Priority

El Salvador has managed to bring down one of the world’s highest murder rates thanks to a truce between gangs that was lauded by the United Nations as an example to be followed in other countries of Central America.

Guatemala under Pressure to Investigate Shooting of Native Protesters

The deaths of eight indigenous demonstrators taking part in a protest against the Guatemalan government in the southwestern province of Totonicapán have provoked outrage within the country and abroad. The protesters accuse the army of shooting into the crowd.

Guatemalans Turn to Mutual Aid to Overcome Poverty

"Our economic situation improved a great deal because we obtained more income for our families" as a result of setting up a social enterprise, Matilde García, who makes fashion jewellery in the municipality of Pastores, 60 km west of the capital of Guatemala, told IPS.

Army’s Former Sex Slaves Testify in Guatemala

"In the garrison they had rooms where they would rape us; sometimes there were three, four or five soldiers,” Rosa Pérez*, one of the women used by the Guatemalan army as a sex slave during this country’s civil war, testified in court.

The murder of Argentine singer-songwriter Facundo Cabral is one of the high-profile crimes cleared up under Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Q&A: Guatemala’s Bold Attorney General Makes a Dent in Impunity

Since Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey became attorney general in Guatemala in 2010, a string of crimes involving military personnel who fought leftwing guerrillas, drug traffickers and organised crime have been cleared up.

Little Concern for the Environment in EU-Central America Agreement

The Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union (EU) will increase environmental and social pressures on the region, warn experts and activists. But some observers stress its potentially positive impacts.

Capitalising on Natural Disasters in Guatemala

In a country as vulnerable to natural disasters as Guatemala, a “state of public calamity” is frequently declared – to the joy of contractors, which find a good opportunity to line their pockets.

Macro Privatisations Bring Micro Benefits to Guatemalans

The suspension of the privatisation of a port company unleashed debate in Guatemala about the countless concessions granted to foreign companies in areas like oil, mining, railways and energy, where corporate interests are seen as prevailing over the common good.

Improving Public Transport in Dangerous Guatemala City

“Service is definitely improving. Transmetro is good quality and Transurbano is using the prepaid system, which means they can’t charge you extra,” said Manolo Contreras, one of the thousands of users of the public transit system in the Guatemalan capital, which is under renovation.

Military Service Leaves Culture of War Behind in Guatemala

“I feel proud to be a part of this change. Malnutrition cannot be wiped out in just two or three years, but this is the beginning and I want to be a part of it,” says Isabela Tzoc, a civic service volunteer involved in a youth programme aimed at fighting extreme poverty in Guatemala.

Genetic Research Gives a Ray of Hope in Guatemala

Cases like that of a little boy with an undetected metabolic disorder whose parents sold everything they owned to cover the costs of medical treatment that was ineffective prompted a doctor to create a vanguard institute of human genetics in Guatemala.

Graffiti in Mexico City: "No More Femicides"  Credit:Dennis Bocquet/CC BY 2.0

CENTRAL AMERICA Still a Long Way to Go in Fight Against Sexual Violence

Access to justice for women who suffer sexual violence in Central America and southern Mexico remains limited despite the high incidence of rape and other crimes, of which underage girls are the main victims, experts say.

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