The Beeb had an interesting story yesterday about a pizza oven containing 440lbs of cocaine that was captured by customs officials in Barcelona. We happen to know a former US public servant in Guatemala that used to use a wheelchair for this particular commercial activity...and the head of the Nestlé plant on the road between Antigua and our house was also caught exporting Bolivian marching powder in the baby milk formula.
It was also reported the other day that the Panamanians are planning to widen their canal. Perhaps the Yanks are helping to fund this in an effort to cut themselves loose from the increasingly bolshy southern continent? It may be a while yet before Guatemala gets its very own Evo, but Chavez is already anticipating a November electoral come-back from Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, and a victory for populist Manuel López Obrador in Mexico still seems on the cards. So the problem may already have spread north of the Darien Gap.
According to Prensa Latina in Guatemala Customs officials have been suspended after "an unpredicted inspection at the La Aurora International Airport in this capital discovered eleven extortion cases carried out on tourists, who were asked to pay at least one dollar to allow them enter the country."
One dollar!? Muertos de Hambre!
Reminds me of an English solicitor who thought he was being very clever slipping a $10 note into his passport as we passed through Mexican immigration into Belize in 2004. In fact all the other foreigners on the bus were only scammed for $5, so he paid double the going rate up front.
The National Police in Guatemala are − for the time being − no longer permitted to issue traffic fines after it was discovered that their brand new IT system was being used for a game of reverse postcode lottery which generated windfalls for participating officers by randomly issuing penalty notices to addresses on the database.
SAIA, the Secretary's Office for Anti-Drug Trafficking Analysis and Investigations is now similarly banned from direct involvement in the capture of narcos after the disappearance last month of half a ton of cocaine that was in their custody. The men that did the disappearing were dressed as Police Officers. From now on SAIA will be limited to intelligence support.
The picture above is of the long lost Guatemalan Police archive, discovered by intrepid local archaeologists in November 2005!