Lyn Dickey spent several hours showing me around Santiago Atitlan and telling me the story of the Hospitalito. She's the treasurer of the board of directors and plays a big part in the rebuilding of the hospital. She also has a beautiful website of her photos, including the panorama of Lake Atitlan above.
Los ríos de Guatemala poseen un potencial para la generación de energía de 10 mil 900 megavatios y la capacidad técnicamente aprovechable es de unos 5 mil megavatios. El Instituto Nacional de Electrificación (INDE) posee un mapa con 240 sitios en los cuales es factible construir una central hidroeléctrica, de los cuales cuenta con perfiles y estudios de prefactibilidad y factibilidad de 104 proyectos. Las inversiones potenciales en los proyectos hidroeléctricos alcanzan la cifra de US$5 mil 773 millones. Los proyectos más grandes son Xalalá (que saldrá a licitación dentro de un par de meses) y Serchil, ambos ubicados sobre el Río Chixoy, con 495 y 202 megavatios respectivamente. Chulac, sobre el río Cahabón, con una capacidad de generación de 440 y 340 megavatios, según la opción. Los sitios Piedras Negras y Salvamento, sobre el Río Usumacinta, con un potencial de 413 y 437 megavatios.
Not only in Latin America are dams controversial. Even dams that affect few people are subject to debate.
I'm in Santiago Atitlan, on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Last October, a newly opened hospital in the town was destroyed by a mudslide due to Hurricane Stan. In addition, 800 people in the village were killed by the mudslide, and most of them remain there in a mass grave.
Tomorrow I will visit the disaster site. Today I saw the land that was bought last Friday for a new hospital. Hospitalito needs your help to build this new facility.
Here's Lyn Dickey, on the past and future of Hospitalito:
For more information, to order a complete video on the project (not produced by me) and to help rebuild:
But as usual on Daily Wireless, the headline is just a small part of the links and information presented in the post. Even with mesh routers on their way, WiMAX is a good possibility for municipal (read: our neighborhood) clouds in the next couple of years.
In Santiago Atitlan, and elsewhere in Guatemala, the rise of self-appointed anti-crime squads in the face of rising crime and social disorder.
Can't I find any good news?
This is several weeks old, but it is the clearest signal yet that CFE is considering a renewed effort to build a dam on the Usumacinta.
México no tiene tanta agua como otros países, pero tiene montañas que le sirven bien para desarrollar proyectos hidroeléctricos, dice Humberto Marengo, director de proyectos hidroeléctricos de la CFE.
Marengo explicó que hay proyectos sobre el Río Usumacinta que podrían generar el doble de energía de la presa El Cajón con apenas la mitad de la inversión.
Es el caso del proyecto Tenosique, en Tabasco, en donde con una cortina de apenas 22 metros de altura se podría tener una planta de 450 megawatts de capacidad y que podría funcionar unas 18 horas diarias, por el caudal del Usumacinta; sin embargo, El Cajón sólo funciona para los picos de demanda, explicó el funcionario.
En energía hidráulica, la actual administración tiene su mayor apuesta con el proyecto El Cajón, que no es sino parte de un sistema de presas que incluye la de Aguamilpa y que se concluirá con La Yesca, sobre el mismo río Santiago.
Para el director de Proyectos Hidroeléctricos de la CFE, el problema es la subutilización de los ríos, por ejemplo, en Europa el Danubio tiene más de 20 mil megawatts de capacidad de generación instalados y es apenas 75% del caudal del Usumacinta en el sureste del país.
Flora and fauna of Chiapas. Just down the new highway, 45 minutes away.
And, a little late, this obit of a military dictator:
" This military exercise is sponsored by the US Southern Command at a cost between 1.5 and 2 million dollars, involving 400 soldiers in two scenarios: one in Guatemala City and another in the northern department of Coban."
(And another fuerza de tarea, like the one in the Peten, is being established farther south.)
"This force will start working in July and will be based at the Santa Ana Berlin Military Base in southwest Guatemala, near the Mexican border."
In his column "Itinerario Politico" Ricardo Alemán muses on two books which portray AMLO as a messiah. Interesting summary of his career and philosophy.
And it's scary how much of this I'm aware of.
Today in Tuxtla, Janet and I and some 40 other journalists recorded Lopez Obrador taking his firmest stand against NAFTA. Here's the AP report. "Aranceles" means tariffs, "TLC" or Tratado de Libre Comercio de Norteamérica means NAFTA. Lopez Obrador rejects the requirement that Mexico drop tariffs on US corn and beans in 2008.
I'll need this when my Chiapas time has run out. Jason, here's your future.
Still unclear what the invaders are being given in return for the release. But this report does say that the invading group had been there a month, cleared 150 hectares of jungle, and were clearly being financed by people with resources. From all reports so far, these are not poor family farmers.
UPDATE: They were promised a meeting next week to discuss the viability of legalization of the the lands.
I just ran across this 2 year old document from the Mexican Senate, considering the importance of the Pantanos de Centla and mentioning the longterm danger of desertification if the Boca del Cerro dam project moves forward.
Referring to a study by CONAE, the national energy conservation commission, on minihydraulic energy, this report brings up recent rumors of renewed dam plans. Good news though that someone in Mexico is thinking of alternatives to dams and flooding.
What should be a cautionary tale, for Mexican leaders considering Boca del Cerro.
This is the first time I've seen the Sierra del Lacandon Park first on the list of affected areas. It's a general description of the process as it was described to me 2 weeks ago. Some of the invading communities are setting up infrastructure and clearing landing strips in support of the narcos.
The Guatemalan authorities are considering how to proceed in the latest confrontation in the Macabilero area of the SDL park, in which guards were injured and taken hostage. The demands for release of eight remaining hostages include legalization of the invaded land in the Macabilero region, which is now protected area. Negotiations continue.
The wait is over. Google SketchUp 3D software has been released for OS X. Let the rendering of ancient buildings begin.
as of 5pm, Javier Marquez confirmed that the guards are still hostage.
Jaron Lanier, with responses from many others.
Excerpt: ...nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous.
One-third of Chiapas deforested or degraded. A call for the next governor of Chiapas to address reforestation. Among the presidential candidates, Lopez Obrador and Calderon have both backed reforestation as a key part of development in their campaign speeches.
As part of the counterdrug work I saw in the Peten. So far, the U.S. military has not helped in that work, I was told. The pentagon is seeking expanded funds in the 2007 defense authorization bill.
U.S. Pacific Command would work with the governments of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand to disrupt the flow of methamphetamines across the region, while U.S. Southern Command would explore ways to work with the governments of Panama, Guatemala and Belize to disrupt the flow of cocaine from Colombia.
Hah! Tracked him down. Teaching a class at Johns Hopkins. Bet those kids are having fun. Don't forget the junglecasts, Nicco.
Two good stories in the Chiapas paper: on silting of Chiapas rivers shortening the life of hydroelectric plants as the land loses all topsoil; and the politics of the environment in Mexico.
Settling on a price to pay the Lacandon community for lands occupied by other groups. This may be the same payment from several months ago, now with a higher price demanded - 10,000 pesos per hectare instead of 5,000. I'll check on it.
Here's the background on the dispute.
One of the members of Charles Golden's team in the Sierra del Lacandon is evaluating this ingenious and light hammock/net/rainfly combination. I don't expect I'll be spending too much more jungle time out there, but I am curious how it works out.
I've heard that the Mexican electrical commission, the CFE, has hired a northern Mexico university to create a new study on a 30 to 40 meter dam at Boca del Cerro, on the Usumacinta River. It seems that this time around, the emphasis will be on the national needs for power, not the creation of a regional grid under Plan Puebla Panama. The need for water in the Yucatan, to supply the growing tourist trade, will also be used as a justification.
Other than those new principles, the campaign will likely be similar to the one in 2002-2003, when the tactic was to restrict any public information about the dam. Here's a translation of an editorial from that period that I missed at the time, but which is newly relevant.
López Obrador gets a 6 page (online) profile in today's Times magazine. Pulls away the curtain a bit on his support from Carlos Slim, the third richest man in the world. I guess Slim (and the Times) know which way the wind is blowing.
I came back to Mexico to see López Obrador visit Chiapas. I'll try to attend some combination of his stops in Zinacantan, San Cristobal, and Palenque.
Before I'd left, there had been defections from PRI among former members of the Zedillo administration, now backing Calderón, the panista. Now there are powerful old line priistas calling for support for López Obrador, to hold the line against the rise of the right. It's a reaction against the neoliberal policies of Salinas and Zedillo, and the inability of Madrazo to pull out of third place.
After a week of brutally hot days and rainy nights in and around Flores, I'm back in cold and rainy San Cristobal.
Here are two news reports from one press event with the Guatemalan military, where I spent the day with the Kaibiles and ten Guatemalan journalists.