Central America 11/04/11

Fifty-two Central American immigrants are detained in Mexico; while a judge in Guatemala approves presidential divorce case.

A group of 52 Central American migrant workers were arrested in southern Mexico this week. The stowaways from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were attempting to make the perilous train journey to the United States.

The plight of desperate migrant workers was famously documented in the 2009 film Sin Nombre. These immigrants are highly prone to extortion and kidnappings by criminal gangs involved in the drug trade. The United Nations criticised Mexico this week for not doing more to prosecute those involved in lucrative people-trafficking operations.

A judge in Guatemala has ruled in favour of the first couple in a controversial divorce hearing. Overruling numerous objections, Judge Mildred Roca granted Sandra Torres the divorce which permits her to run to succeed husband Álvaro Colom as president. The decision means that they must now live apart.

Torres has played a prominent role in Colom’s presidency, supervising the government’s poverty relief programmes. If elected, she will be Guatemala’s first female president, but she currently trails her rival Otto Perez Molina in the polls.

Meanwhile, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla has endured a bad week which saw her approval rating sink to just 37 percent, while a third government minister resigned in as many months.

Finally, Guatemala’s under-20 football team made history this week with a 2-1 win over the USA, which sealed their qualification for the forthcoming World Cup. Guatemala’s national side has never previously played in a World Cup. The under-20 tournament will be held in Colombia this summer.