buried mirror: latest reflections

mesoamerica and the maya world

Category: news

Landslide death toll rises

The number of dead from a landslide near Aquil Grande in Alta Verapaz in Guatemala has risen to 37; that number does not count an equal number of missing persons. A previous slide had hit the same road on December 14, killing two people, and barricades were put up to keep people away from the danger area. Many of the dead in the second slide were coffee plantations workers who simply went around the roadblocks.

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Precolumbian treasures confiscated in Germany

example of art object seized by bavarian police

Police in Bavaria have confiscated an estimated $100 million worth of Mayan, Aztec and Incan treasures. A resident of Costa Rica purports to own the objects, which were transported to Germany without proper permits. It’s unclear how they came to be in his possession. The Local: Germany’s News in English reports

According to the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the man, identified as Leonardo Augustus P., claims to be a former diplomat who properly obtained the artifacts. The man, now a resident primarily of Geneva, is reportedly well-known to police dealing with smuggled art and exotic animals on several continents. He has even picked up the unflattering nickname “The Thief of the Treasures” in his native Costa Rica.

On the subject of looting and theft of antiquities, although it is not about the Latin American region, I recommend an excellent recently published book, The Medici Conspiracy.

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shown: Bavarian police photo

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Floods in Tabasco

The Tabasco flooding is the worst in fifty years. Despite governmental action that put the U.S. Katrina response to shame there have been many casualties, and heavy destruction.

Amid heavy rains, President Felipe Calderon ordered in thousands of soldiers, marines, pilots and federal police on Oct. 29, two days before the most damaging flooding hit. When the riverbanks finally burst, inundating some 70% of the city on Oct. 31, there were more than 60 helicopters buzzing through the skies carrying out nonstop rescue and relief missions. Calderon and half his cabinet then touched down in Villahermosa three times in five days, giving televised updates on everything from how to use satellite phones in shelters to the drop points of millions of bottles of water. “The reaction has been very impressive. If there were not such a fast and wide-scale response, the human cost of this tragedy would have been much higher,” said Helena Ranchal, regional head of the European Commission’s emergency relief fund. — Time magazine

Residents are calling for aid. This video gives some sense of the crisis. There are more videos here.

Sites we like: La Casa Azteca

Casa Azteca is another of my favorite Mesoamerica-related sites. It is quite a thorough and up-to-date source of news and commentary, especially on archeaological subjects. As a bonus, Casa Azteca lists upcoming events in different sites around the country. In general I’m not that fond of Live Journal as a platform; nonetheless, but Casa Azteca is one of the premier sites for information about Mesoamerica and the Maya world. (Click the screenshot to visit the site.)

la casa azteca

The Railroad All-Stars

The clip below is a trailer for Estrellas de la Línea, a film about sex workers in Guatemala City who organized themselves as a football (soccer) team. Guatemala City has become a nightmarish places, and it goes without saying that these women’s lives must be very difficult.

The full story is at The Global Game.

Xeni’s notes from the road

Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing is on the road in Guatemala. Her post from yesterday is a good summing up of the current tone there.

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