Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cabecitas de Plomo

Having narrowly avoided getting the PNC as our immediate neighbours (instead we got some Guanacos with a Karaoke machine), it seems that the cops have chosen to move into the more spacious property about fifty metres down the road, which until recently was one of the old folks' homes known as Cabecitas de Algodón.

They are being forced to vacate the Palacio de los Capitanes General (pictured) as this historical building in the centre of Antigua is being redeveloped into something that tourists will feel more comfortable visiting.

The interior ministry carried out a proper purge of the police force this week. First to go were around 20 serving army officers that have recently been occuping key posts in arms control, internal affairs, logistics, inspection and personnel. It was also announced that Capt. Alexander Gomez, the new chief of the PNC Criminal Investigation Department (DINC), a unit heavily implicated in the murder of the ARENA politicians, would dismiss 60 per cent of his staff.

On the Saturday I arrived in Guatemala we stopped off at Pizza Hut on the way out of the city, close to Cemaco/Tikal Futura. Esau then parked on a bend just before San Lucas and we started to munch. In front of us were two PNC picops whose occupants got down and strolled nonchalently past our windows. They looked like they were after mordidas of one kind or another!

Their attention was eventually drawn to a packed bus headed for Chimaltenango which they flagged down and then ordered all the male passengers to get down. Such inter-urban transport is often operating without the necessary paperwork which, according to Esau, provides the cops with a nice little earner before the Semana Santa break.

This bus-stopping activity was stepped up over the course of the following week. A police chief outlined to a Telediario reporter the kind of irregularities they were typically looking out for, such as overcrowded buses, a phenomenon "que de cierta manera provoca accidentes" (o sea mordidas).

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