We should all care about events in Guatemala

We should all care about events in Guatemala

Guatemala is a Presidential Democracy where citizens vote directly for their President, Vice President, local authorities, and congressional representatives.  However, if you Google what is happening in Guatemala right now, you will read headlines about a democracy in grave crisis in what is a beautiful country of 18 million people.

Elections in this small Central American country last August, saw Bernardo Arevalo leading the young center-left social democratic party “Semilla” and winning the second round of the presidential elections with the support of 59 percent of eligible voters.

But the powerful who rule Guatemala have no interest in Semilla taking power early next year. That is because Semilla’s stated aim is to fight corruption and rescue a flawed democracy which has been captured by historic oligarchies, corrupt politicians, and criminal mafias. Together they are known in Guatemala as “The Pact of the Corrupt” or the “Criminal Alliance”.

Semilla (the Spanish word for seed) is a new political party created by young intellectuals, social activists and progressive thinkers, and supported by the young urban middle class. Following its victory, indigenous people, women’s groups, and other civil society organizations in the countryside soon joined demonstrations supporting the tiny party, as it faced a very difficult transition to power. For them, Semilla promised “a new democratic spring,” and a promise similar to that of the President-elect’s father, Juan Jose Arevalo when he became the first democratically elected president of Guatemala in 1944. His successor, Jacobo Arbenz continued with reforms but the CIA, which at that time lived in dread of the red menace creeping up the map of the Americas, labelled him a communist and organized a coup to destroy him.

It is important for Canadians to understand what is happening in Guatemala today because if Semilla is not allowed to take power, the country will undoubtedly become an authoritarian narco-state where impunity is the norm. Violence, oppression and corruption will become impossible to tackle because the tacit collusion between powerful corporate elites and criminal groups will solidify. Emigration, in these circumstances, will also increase as ordinary Guatemalans looks elsewhere for a better life.

Indeed, any country that fails to guarantee the basic needs of millions creates poverty and inequality, humanitarian crises and more violence. In Guatemala, citizens have already been prosecuted for their political thinking, social participation, human rights advocacy, and environmental protection efforts. More than 30 judges and prosecutors who were fighting corruption and impunity have been forced into exile. Journalists have been imprisoned and independent media threatened. Freedom of expression is quickly evaporating.

To understand President-elect Arevalo’s warning of a Coup D’état, is to look at the past. Historically, Guatemalan elites have enjoyed undeserved inherited privileges. This was the case up until 2007, when the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office, along with the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), was established.  CICIG soon began investigating organized crime and reinforcing local efforts to strengthen the rule of law. Then, in September 2015, after being implicated by CICIG, Guatemalan President Otto Molina was arrested on charges of customs fraud and bribery and he was recently sentenced to eight years in jail.

However, since the government closed CICIG in January 2019, the Guatemalan elite has combined with corrupt politicians and organized crime to undermine the rule of law and stop Arevalo from being inaugurated as President on January 14th. That’s because Semilla is unique. It is the only political party that has no connections with the “Pact of the Corrupt” and has also stated that it will not turn a blind eye to the human rights violations of some international mining and palm oil companies in Guatemala.

Whatever happens in Guatemala will affect both Central and North America. The fact that we divide up the world with political boundaries and a nation state framework does not exempt us from being influenced by the impacts of poverty, inequality, injustice, violence, oppression, environmental degradation, and violations of human rights elsewhere.

Indeed, a market economy, such as the one in Guatemala, that allows excessive wealth concentration is a dysfunctional one in which six out of 10 people live below the poverty line.  Furthermore, two percent of Guatemalans own 98 percent of the land and racism and discrimination have become fully entrenched.

When this article was being written the Attorney General, Consuelo Porras, appointed by the current government and sanctioned by the US because of his involvement in significant corruption, was again on the march.  He had ordered the head of the Public Ministry’s Office of the Special Prosecutor against Impunity, Rafael Curruchiche, to raid the headquarters of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for the fourth time since the election.

As a result, the police arrived masked, and in cars with no licence plates, reminding Guatemalans of the dark days of dictatorship and genocide. They hijacked the boxes where legal documents pertaining to the final count of votes were stored, claiming that they needed to corroborate the data as there might be anomalies in the voting process. Both Semilla and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal appealed to Guatemala’s top courts to end the Attorney General’s unconstitutional attempts to prevent Arevalo becoming president. However, the country’s highest court has since upheld the suspension of his party over alleged voter registration fraud.

Guatemalan citizens have protested across the country as a result. Roads have been blockaded and Indigenous groups, and those living in rural areas, have called for an indefinite strike, while also demanding the resignation of both Porras and Curruchiche.  The country is paralyzed and the situation so critical that the likelihood of the government attacking its own people is very high, especially as the Presidential transition period approaches.

In the end, any democracy that fails to provide for the freedom and well-being of all its citizens is a very flawed one. And a compliant justice system, such as the current one in Guatemala, that prosecutes the opponents of those who have captured the State and its institutions for their own benefit cannot be considered just.  Yet, while many countries are speaking out in support of the new government, Canada, which has enjoyed 60 years of diplomatic relations with Guatemala, has not.

It has a moral duty to do so.

The high price of being a drag queen in Guatemala

The high price of being a drag queen in Guatemala

“Tú te fuiste y yo me puse triple M: Más buena, más dura, más level” (You left and I went triple H: hotter, harder, higher level ….” It’s 5 p.m. on a hot day in June, and in a room in a Guatemala City apartment, the notes of Karol G. and Shakira’s latest song can be heard, a prelude to a night of partying. From a closet emerge a pair of 20-centimeter flame red heels. Several women’s suits are mixed with loose-fitting garments and men’s sneakers. Leaning against the closet, a full length mirror reflects a strong, muscular back, while, on the other side of the room, several make-up mirrors reveal a face in transformation.

Gloria Deus is 30 years old and a drag queen, or, as she puts it, “draga.” Today, Deus is preparing to participate in a contest at Shai Wa, a downtown bar that in recent times has become a space of acceptance and empowerment for the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) community. Three other drag queens help her put on her wig. Deus calls them “daughters” because, as a mom of choice, she had the role of introducing them to the Guatemalan drag scene.

“I started drag five years ago as an art form, a form of [political] struggle and to explore all facets of gender. I am a mixed race person and the name Gloria is a tribute to my Latin culture, but also a satire of the Catholic world. I was a strong believer, but the Church excluded me because of my nature. I tried to change, but I could no longer live like that and I left the Church. Now I feel free to enjoy both my masculine and feminine natures.”

When I started doing drag, my boss fired me. In social networks they wrote that I was disgusting and they wanted to kill me.

In another house, Andromeda, a 25-year-old drag queen, is getting ready for Dancing Queer, a dance show and art exhibition to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month to which Nauxea, another well-known drag performer, invited her. Andromeda, amidst brushes, false eyebrows and brightly colored palettes, sports a black dress, a purple corset, and a wavy blonde wig. “I was accepting of being gay,” they comment, “but I’m also a non-binary person and being drag allows me to express my identity.”

Gloria Deus, Andromeda and Nauxea are three of the dozens of drag queens that have been animating the artistic and dissident scene in Guatemala City since the 1990s. In the LGBTQI spectrum they are recognized in the letter Q for “queer,” a term that has been reclaimed by part of the LGBTQ+ community to reject traditional sexual orientation and gender distinctions.

But subverting the established order often takes its toll. “Drag is political from its conception because you’re breaking the rules and when you do that, you take risks. When I started drag, my boss fired me. People wrote to me on social networks that I was disgusting and that they wanted to kill me. Despite the violence, I continue to do drag, because we and the entire LGBTQI community have the right to exist,” says Deus.

Taking to the streets as a drag queen is a political act and also an act of courage in a country that takes the life of a person for being themselves. The death of Oscar Camey, an LGBTQI activist who died on June 17 in a nightclub in Guatemala City, is one of 17 violent deaths this year in the country. If confirmed as a homophobic attack, it would add to the 67 registered hate homicides that occurred between 2020 and 2022, as identified in a report by the NGO Cristosal.

Violence in Guatemala has soared against trans women. According to the organization Otrans, 65% of trans women have been victims of physical violence, 50% have suffered sexual violence, and 40% have been arbitrarily detained by the police. There is no reliable data on the number because many trans women are registered as men at death.

Although some drag queens are trans women, most are queer people, sometimes non-binary (outside of the male or female duality) and in many cases homosexual. By assuming traits generally considered feminine, drag queens face levels of violence similar to those of cisgender women (in which sexual gender and body are in line), say researchers Alba Luz Robles Mendoza and Danae Soriano Valtierra, from the Pablo Olavide University in Seville in a report entitled, Emociones en torno a la violencia hacia las mujeres drag queen (in Spanish). And the risks are intensified by being part of the LGBTQI community.

“People whistle at you and harass you. Being on the drag strip means exposure,” says Andromeda. “Years ago, I had my face slashed in the street. I left the hospital with 17 stitches,” adds Nauxia, also a victim of violence for being gay. “Another time I was in drag and a man spat on me. Recently, a co-worker found my Instagram profile and humiliated me in front of others. I was afraid of losing my job,” they recall.

In Guatemala there is no specific legal framework condemning hate crimes. But there are laws that restrict the rights of LGBTQI people. A representative example was Law Initiative 5272 for the Protection of Life and the Family, which sought to expressly prohibit same-sex marriage and refused to recognize homophobic attacks as a hate crime. The bill, approved in March 2022, was shelved shortly thereafter due to protests. And it became an alarming symbol of the possible regression of human rights in the country.

“Being a drag queen means resisting being made politically invisibile. They don’t want to see us? Well, here we are, doing political activism with our bodies,” Gloria Deus, Andromeda and Nauxia agree. From their real and virtual platforms they fight against discrimination and defend LGBTQI rights.

“With the Drag Besties community, we organize events in safe spaces where the LGBTQI community can enjoy our shows,” Deus continues. “We also promote the Street Queens initiative to make ourselves known in public places. Sometimes we are insulted, but many young people who have not yet come out of the closet need us as an example to find courage and be free. I am happy because we are fighting hard for the recognition of LGBTQI rights,” they add.



Gloria Deus is not afraid. Neither are Andromeda and Nauxia. They balance on their stiletto heels with the look of someone who wants to conquer the world. As Andromeda goes off alone to take an Uber to her event, a group of drunken people are yelling at her. She looks straight ahead, ignoring them. Nauxia is waiting for her to start the show. A few days earlier, Gloria Deus participated in Miss Shai Wa and did not win, but that night she took over the public spaces, walking proudly as she has done hundreds of times.

“Our way of resisting homophobia and transphobia is to exist. We will never give up,” Nauxia concludes with a grimace that turns into a smile.

Guatemala elections- Green issues low on the agenda in chaotic race

Guatemala elections: Green issues low on the agenda in chaotic race

Оn 25 June, Guatemala’s general elections threw up a surprise in the success of Bernardo Arévalo, the presidential candidate of the progressive Semilla movement, who claimed second place behind former first lady Sandra Torres, leader of the rightward-shifting National Unity of Hope party. The two candidates are now set for a runoff on 20 August.

The unexpected rise of Arévalo, a career diplomat and academic, and the son of former president Juan José Arévalo, has brought hope to many Guatemalans for a change in the status quo, given his anti-corruption and anti-impunity campaigns, and an engagement with environmental issues. He has stated that his and Semilla’s goals are to bring back confidence in state institutions, which are seen as having been co-opted by ruling elites in recent years.

Arévalo’s securing of a spot in the runoff was “a surprise”, said Gabriela Carrera, a political science professor at Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala City. But she added that his success was representative of “a feeling of an anti-vote, a rejection of what we call the ‘pact of corruption’.”

The pacto de corruptos is a term that has gained prevalence in Guatemala to refer to politicians, powerful business and organised crime figures, and members of the judicial system accused of acts of corruption, and maintaining a system of impunity that protects them from prosecution.

Semilla’s progressive platform has met resistance from the current government and elements of this so-called pact, as well as from the Guatemalan right wing. Claims of electoral fraud were lodged by a number of minor parties – and ultimately deemed to be false – while attempts have also been made in the country’s courts to suspend the Semilla party, and to launch investigations into citizen poll observers and those involved in digitising election results. Semilla also saw its offices raided by police after the attorney general’s attempted suspension.

These efforts have, however, been futile, as the country’s electoral tribunal, the TSE, has upheld the party’s legitimacy and the results of the first round of the elections.

The lead-up to the elections also saw controversy, as the TSE and Guatemalan courts moved to exclude several candidates, including Indigenous leftist leader Thelma Cabrera and right-wing populists Roberto Árzu and Carlos Pineda, leading many analysts to fear the elections were being manipulated to advocate for candidates who favored the status quo.

In this fraught run-up, policy plans have often struggled to make headlines amid the legal wrangling, and have met with an electorate seemingly frustrated with the entire political class – spoiled ballots led the way in the first round with 17% of the vote, ahead of both Torres and Arévalo. As the August runoff nears, corruption and security are likely to be the key issues for Guatemalan voters; the environment, in a country suffering from widespread pollution and degradation, has gained little attention, though Semilla, in particular, has made a number of pledges.

As Guatemala heads to the polls again, we weigh up the prospects for the environment in the upcoming election.

Guatemala’s environmental issues
Amidst a chaotic backdrop, the success of Arévalo and the Movimiento Semilla, or Seed Movement, has surprised some observers, in its break away from the traditional lack of environmental proposals that has marked party platforms in recent electoral seasons.

On the campaign trail, environmental issues and climate change received almost no attention from poll-leading candidates, besides consistent calls to clear Guatemala’s polluted waterways, an estimated 90–95% of which are polluted. But the unexpected rise of Semilla – which became a party in 2018, having emerged from anti-government protests in 2015 – has brought more environmental concerns into the debate, given their inclusion of a wider range of green proposals.

“There is a very rapid deterioration of natural resources and there are no efforts being made for their preservation or conservation,” says Karin Herrera, a biologist and Semilla’s vice-presidential candidate.

“Political will, commitment, and dialogue are needed to generate this awareness about the importance [of the environment],” she says. “The beautiful natural resources that we have cannot continue to be so neglected by the state. We need to enter with strength and commitment to preserve them.”

Guatemala has previously been ranked as one of the ten countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and has been increasingly affected by more intense hurricanes and periods of drought. The country is also facing environmental degradation due a lack of compliance with regulations, and a worsening situation for its small farmers.

The Central American country contains vast biodiversity, being the home to nearly 14,000 different plant and animal species. But Guatemala’s economy is largely dependent on the exploitation of its natural resources and environment, for the production of bananas, coffee, palm oil, sugar and spices, among other key products. While legislation exists to address the management of forests, solid and liquid waste management, and water, among other regulations, there is a general lack of compliance with legislation to protect the environment.

“The problem is that many of these laws only remain on paper,” says Raul Maas, the lead of the Institute for Research and Projection on Natural Environment and Society at the Rafael Landívar University. As a result, Guatemala has seen a rapid rate of deforestation, pollution of its waterways, and the degradation of soils, with their health facing pressure from agribusiness and farmers.

All these factors of environmental degradation have wider impacts on society, including increasingly driving many people to attempt to migrate from Guatemala, notably to the United States, in search of a better livelihood. The continuation of these often destructive extractive practices reflects the impunity that has spread in Guatemala, which contributes to further degradation.

These environmental challenges are being made worse by the effects of climate change. According to a recent study, the loss of forests in Central America due to climate change could lead to economic costs of as much as $314 billion dollars a year by 2100.

“The situation is quite precarious without the effects of climate change,” Maas says. “Add to this the variable of climate change, and the question becomes much more critical.”

Environmental policy proposals
As Guatemala faces up to these environmental crises, Semilla has proposed a set of policies within their government plan that would seek to address the degradation. These include the investment of nearly US$900 million into the country’s system for the protection forests and protected areas, with the goal of strengthening not only the forests themselves but also the sources of water that the country relies on, and coastal mangroves to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Within its government plan, Semilla says it hopes to also strengthen the communities that rely on natural resources for sectors such as ecotourism. Added to this, are pledges to expand support for the communal lands and forests of Indigenous communities, upon request.

These initiatives would be “a massive investment,” says Patricia Orantes Thomas, an environmental expert and Semilla deputy elected to the national congress in June. “Because this also has environmental returns, it has revenues in terms of water production, it has returns in the mitigation and protection from climate change, but it also has economic returns because people will be reforesting and managing the forests.”

Within its government plan, the Semilla party has pledged to expand support for the communal lands and forests of Indigenous communities in Guatemala
Within its government plan, the Semilla party has pledged to expand support for the communal lands and forests of Indigenous communities in Guatemala

Semilla is also seeking to address the impunity that exists in Guatemala in regards to the environment. Orantes Thomas says that, if elected, their government will seek to modify the legal code to improve the handling of environmental crimes, beginning with addressing the contamination of waters and the division of rivers for business interests, which has become a major issue in the last decade.

On the other side of the runoff, Sandra Torres and the National Unity of Hope party have made no clear proposals related to the environment. This continues what has been seen as a lacklustre record on the environment in recent years for the party – a formerly social democratic but increasingly conservative populist party, which has served one term in government (2008–2012), and faced allegations of corruption.

“Unfortunately, the National Unity of Hope party does not specifically address issues related to the environment within its [government] plan,” says Elvis Caballeros, a climate risk researcher at the Rafael Landívar University. “It does not have any proposal – they do not give it priority.”

If Arévalo and Semilla are able to win the presidency in the 20 August runoff, they will face a considerable challenge in congress, as the party was only able to win 23 seats in the legislative branch, out of 160 seats.

While the party as a whole performed better than in the 2019 elections, successfully addressing the issues facing the country will require Semilla to build alliances – something which there is a chance of establishing, given the fluid nature of Guatemalan politics.

“[The congressional representatives] that have been elected from the majority of parties do not follow political guidelines, or respond to the politics of their parties,” Orantes Thomas says. “They respond to their own interests. This is very sad for our system of political parties.”

But, the congresswoman adds, “What we want is to try to build bridges with the greatest number of [congressional representatives] who are willing to fight the battles that the population wants.”



Guatemala developed an innovative policy of criminal prosecution in domestic courts of those responsible for serious crimes, including genocide, war crimes, forced disappearance, and sexual violence committed during that country’s internal armed conflict (1960-1996). Transitional justice efforts in Guatemala led to the conviction of a former head of state, senior military officials, and others for these crimes and centered the voice of survivors and families of victims of wartime atrocities.

For the past decade, Dr. Burt has monitored these war crimes prosecutions. She has interviewed survivors and families of victims, documented courtroom developments, and traced the ongoing efforts by military officials and conservative politicians to obstruct criminal trials or end them altogether. In this presentation, she will analyze the contentious politics of transitional justice in post-genocide Guatemala and what this case study tells us about the politics of truth, justice and memory in post-conflict societies.


Jo-Marie Burt (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a public scholar who researches and writes about political violence, human rights, and transitional justice in post-conflict societies. She is associate professor of Political Science in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Dr. Burt is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles, most recently, Transitional Justice in the Aftermath of Civil Conflict: Lessons from Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador. Her research has been supported by the Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Fulbright, and the U.S. Institute for Peace, among others. Dr. Burt has monitored and written about ongoing war crimes prosecutions in Guatemala for International Justice Monitor and for online and print publications. She is currently President of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).

Event raises over €7,000 for eye clinic in Guatemala

Event raises over €7,000 for eye clinic in Guatemala

Vini e Capricci by Abraham’s, a local wine and food importer and distributor, raised €7,200 for the Guatemala Foundation during a tribute dinner to honour Italian winemaker Michele Chiarlo. These funds will go towards the building of a specialist eye clinic in Guatemala, a project led by ophthalmologist Franco Mercieca.

The tribute dinner, held at the retail, dining and events concept store in Xewkija, brought together wine aficionados, culinary enthusiasts and industry professionals to celebrate the esteemed career of Chiarlo. Known for his winemaking skills and dedication to his craft, he has been an ambassador for Italian wines around the world for decades.

Guests were treated to a menu specially curated by the chefs at Vini e Capricci, who paired each course with Chiarlo’s wines.

The Guatemala Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to improving the lives of underprivileged communities in Guatemala, expressed its gratitude for the remarkable support and generous contributions from guests and partners.

“We are immensely grateful to Vini e Capricci and all the attendees for their incredible generosity,” Mercieca said.

“Thanks to their support, we will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of many individuals and communities. It is events such as these that help make the impossible, possible.”

Vini e Capricci founder and director Abraham Said added: “Events like these underscore the power of bringing together like-minded individuals who share a common vision for making a difference within our global community and the evening provided a fitting tribute and celebration to our dear friend and partner, Michele Chiarlo.”

UIPM Congress switched from Guatemala to online event

UIPM Congress switched from Guatemala to online event

Some also criticised the process by which riding was replaced, complaining of a lack of transparency, but an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by the Danish Modern Pentathlon Association was dismissed.

Advocates of the new fifth discipline argue it makes modern pentathlon more accessible.

It should also avoid a repeat of the upsetting scenes of Tokyo 2020, where German coach Kim Raisner was sent home in disgrace for punching a horse that refused to jump during the women’s competition.

All of this means that this year’s UIPM Congress, while not elective, promises to be a contentious gathering.

The UIPM has said the Congress will be streamed on the UIPM TV platform.

Modern pentathlon has been left off the initial programme for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.

However, the International Olympic Committee has said there is a “pathway” for it to be added.

UIPM President Klaus Schormann has led the organisation since 1993 and is in his eighth term as President.

The German chaired the UIPM Fifth Discipline Working Group which was tasked with overseeing the process of finding a replacement for riding.

Guatemala- UN Human Rights Chief deplores persistent attempts to undermine outcome of elections

Guatemala: UN Human Rights Chief deplores persistent attempts to undermine outcome of elections

GENEVA (9 December 2023) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Saturday raised the alarm about persistent and systematic attempts by the Attorney General’s Office in Guatemala to undercut the general election results, in full disregard of the voters’ will.

“Friday’s announcements, aimed at nullifying the outcome of the general elections and questioning the constitution and existence of the Movimiento Semilla party are extremely disturbing,” the High Commissioner said.

He stressed that judicial harassment and intimidation against electoral officers and elected officials was unacceptable.

“It is encouraging that, despite the long list of judicial and political actions taken by some authorities, which clearly undermine the integrity of the electoral process and breach the rule of law and democracy, people have been standing up for their rights and have been opposing what they perceive as a theft of their political will,” he added.

Türk urged the authorities to preserve and respect all human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly at all times.

Pollo Campero's Annual 'Luces Campero' Event Goes Virtual From Guatemala

Pollo Campero’s Annual ‘Luces Campero’ Event Goes Virtual From Guatemala

The event, typically held in Guatemala and El Salvador with thousands in attendance, will be on the CamperoUSA Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CamperoUSA), which will show the event in five countries, including HondurasEcuador and, for the first time, the U.S.

“Our annual Luces Campero event, while a little different this year as so many of our holiday traditions are during the pandemic, will bring a beloved tradition to life in a new way,” said Campero USA Managing Director Luis Javier Rodas. “Though it will be virtual, we are happy to bring it to more people this year, including those in the U.S. for the first time, to enjoy music, fireworks and fun to kick off the holiday season.”

Luces Campero will offer viewers a 360-degree immersive experience via Facebook Live. The event will kick off with a virtual performance by the Cuban group, Gente de Zona, and end with a festive fireworks show for all to enjoy.

In addition to the event, Pollo Campero locations across the U.S. will be offering $5 off any $25 or more purchase Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6, with the code “LUCES” via the Pollo Campero app, online and in-store.

About Pollo Campero
Founded in Guatemala in 1971, Pollo Campero is a fast service chicken restaurant brand specializing in uniquely flavorful chicken and a wholesome menu offering individual and family meals. Using family recipes passed down from generation to generation, Pollo Campero offers tender, juicy, hand-breaded fried chicken, citrus flavor-infused grilled chicken and extra-crunchy chicken that is always fresh and hand prepared daily. Since its beginnings as a tiny, family-owned restaurant, Pollo Campero has grown to more than 350 restaurants around the world. To learn more about Pollo Campero visit us.campero.com and follow the flavor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Contemporary Art in Guatemala

Contemporary Art in Guatemala

In recent years Guatemalan artistic production has been extremely powerful, with an emergence of critical artistic practices responding to the violence, repression and historical memory of the previous decades in Guatemala, but also its unique sense of contemporaneity, indigeneity, and radical urban imagination. Contemporary Guatemalan artists such as Regina José Galindo, Benvenuto Chavajay, Jorge de León and many others are recognized widely not only in the context of Central/Latin America, but receive much acclaim on the world stage, while contemporary urban art spaces like NuMu and Proyectos Ultravioleta are notable for their inventive curatorial practices and creative public engagement.

Showcasing the exciting energy around contemporary artistic and curatorial practices emerging in Guatemala today, this event features artists including: Jessica KairéTerike Haapoja, and Jaime Permuth, who will present recent projects conducted in Guatemala; curators Anabella Acevedo and Pablo José Ramírez (joining remotely from Guatemala); and Prof. Nitin Sawhney from The New School Media Studies program. Sawhney, Acevedo and Ramirez are co-organizing the exhibition initiative Guatemala Después which will open this April (on view April 9-29) at The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons/The New School and at Ciudad de la Imaginación in Guatemala this June, featuring the work of over 40 Guatemalan and US-based artists.

Please see the recently launched Kickstarter Campaign for Guatemala Después to learn more and contribute to this exciting new project.

The conversation will be moderated by María Del Carmen Carrión, ICI’s Director of Public Programs & Research, followed by an informal mixer with Guatemalan food and drinks, and a performance by Guatemalan musician Isabel Ruano.

Organized in collaboration with Ciudad de la Imaginación as well as The School of Media Studies, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC), and Vera List Center for Art and Politics; it is co-sponsored by the University Student Senate (USS) at The New School.

This event is free and open to the public. To attend, please RSVP to [email protected] with GUATEMALA in the subject line.

Study to examine effects of Zika infection in Guatemalan infants and children

Study to examine effects of Zika infection in Guatemalan infants and children

A large natural history study examining the neurologic, neurodevelopmental and other clinical outcomes of Zika virus infection in infants and young children has begun in rural Guatemala. It will focus on those infected with Zika virus after birth rather than those infected congenitally. The study is being conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, in partnership with FUNSALUD (Fundacion para la Salud Integral de los Guatemaltecos) Center for Human Development in Coatepeque, Guatemala, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving the health and human development of families and communities in the southwest region of Guatemala. Researchers in Guatemala and the United States, including NIAID scientists, designed the study; NIAID is funding the research.

Most people with Zika virus infection have no symptoms or only a mild illness. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can result in congenital Zika syndrome, which is a pattern of birth defects that includes severe microcephaly (in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected), decreased brain tissue, damage to the back of the eye, joints with limited range of motion, and excess muscle tone restricting body movement. There are also reports of infants born to Zika virus-infected mothers appearing healthy at birth but later experiencing slowed head growth during the first year and developing postnatal microcephaly. These observations indicate that Zika virus infection has the potential to affect early brain development, but the full spectrum of possible consequences is not yet known.

Zika virus transmission is ongoing in parts of Guatemala, according to the Pan American Health Organization. In addition, a continuing University of Colorado surveillance study characterizing the incidence and pattern of dengue virus in children in the study area (southwestern Guatemala) has confirmed active Zika virus transmission and high Zika virus infection rates in children with fever.

“This natural history study of Zika among Guatemalan children promises to yield valuable insights into acute and longer-term outcomes of infection,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “It is imperative that we understand the potential neurologic and neurodevelopmental outcomes of Zika virus infection in children infected in infancy and early childhood.”

Flor M. Munoz, M.D., an investigator with the NIAID-funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) at Baylor College of Medicine, and Edwin J. Asturias, M.D., of the University of Colorado Department of Pediatrics and Center for Global Health, will lead the trial, in collaboration with Antonio Bolaños, M.D., medical director at the FUNSALUD clinic, where the study will occur. The Emory VTEU Research Laboratory, under the direction of Mark Mulligan, M.D., will perform the laboratory testing for the study. Dr. Bolaños has noted that the study is important to families in Guatemala because “it will help provide access to the early diagnosis of Zika for families in this rural area of Guatemala, while helping us uncover whether this virus can interfere with the normal development of young children.”

“For many impoverished children in our country, any Zika effect on their neurodevelopment will add burden to their futures,” Bolaños added.

In addition to Dr. Bolaños, other FUNSALUD investigators, nurses and laboratory technicians will participate in the study, which will also help enhance future Guatemalan medical research capacity.

The trial was reviewed and approved by the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, National Ethics Committee and will be implemented in full compliance with Guatemalan and U.S. regulations that govern clinical research. It will enroll approximately 1,200 infants and children under five years of age. This will include a cohort of 300 children who have postnatally acquired Zika and/or dengue virus infection and were included in the recent University of Colorado surveillance study conducted at FUNSALUD. The trial will also enroll a new cohort of approximately 500 newborns who have not had Zika virus infection, along with their mothers and siblings. The sibling cohort will include approximately 400 children under age five.

Study investigators will monitor the infants, children and mothers for at least one year during home visits, phone calls and clinic appointments. Participants will regularly provide body fluid samples and undergo screenings for potential new Zika, dengue and chikungunya virus infections. They will also undergo regular physical, neurologic, neurodevelopmental, hearing, and eye examinations. Study clinicians will counsel families that choose to enroll their children as participants in the study on how to best prevent Zika infection, as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses. This counseling will include explaining how to remove standing water in and around the home and how to properly use mosquito nets, insect repellents and protective clothing to prevent as many mosquito-borne diseases as possible.

Researchers hope to compare the neurodevelopmental, neurologic, and clinical outcomes of Zika virus-infected children with those who remain uninfected. Participants will be screened for microcephaly, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), Guillain-Barré syndrome (a rare nervous system disorder), seizures, neurodevelopmental delays, hearing loss, eye problems, and other neurologic issues.

The study aims to classify these outcomes among children with or without symptoms of Zika virus infection and compare them to the outcomes of other viral infections, such as dengue or chikungunya. Investigators also will examine levels of Zika virus nucleic acid and neutralizing antibodies in participants to see if certain thresholds correlate with specific clinical, neurologic or neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Secondary goals of the study are to characterize the effect of prior maternal dengue virus infection in Zika virus-infected infants and to evaluate if maternal infection (or children’s own previous dengue virus infections) could result in more severe Zika virus disease in children via antibody-dependent enhancement, or ADE. ADE occurs when antibodies developed in response to a previous viral infection bind to, but do not neutralize, a new infecting virus. Investigators also will determine how long Zika virus RNA persists in body fluids in infants and young children and in maternal breast milk. Their goals are to learn whether lingering virus affects clinical and neurologic outcomes and to determine any potential for virus transmission.

Enrollments will continue until the target number of participants has been reached; the study is expected to take three years to complete but preliminary results could be available in one year. It is anticipated that the study findings will help inform global public health practices and assist Guatemalan health officials as they seek to understand the risks associated with early childhood Zika infection and design health care programs that will provide Zika-related health care of benefit to Guatemalan children and families.


NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.