Posts Tagged ‘bus war in Guatemala’

Guatemalan bus

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

You may be aware of the history of violence on the buses ridden by Guatemalan citizens, particularly in the capital. If you’re not, please be aware that the facts included in Guatemala: Extortionists Target Bus Riders are disturbing. The good news is that progress has been made on some buses, by instituting a system of prepaid cards that remove the need for the driver to have cash on hand. Here’s an excerpt:

Since 2004, 917 bus drivers have gone straight to the cemetery.

The deaths, which include 50 so far this year, are the result of gangs’ extorting bus drivers and bus company owners, according to the government.

Bus drivers often have to pay extortions three times a week to criminals working with gangs, such as the Mara Salvatrucha, Barrio-18, and Los Paisas, who have burst onto the scene, according to Rony López, a prosecutor for cases involving organized crime. The gangs receive most of their orders from incarcerated leaders.

In a single week, a bus company owner may have to come up with $70,000 quetzales (US$8,879) to pay extortionists, according to López.

“The money we earn depends on the number of passengers that get on the bus. If we have to pay extortion, we earn only $40 quetzales (US$5) a day. Then, we still have to pay our bus assistant,” said Carlos Rosales, a bus driver who has been on the job for 26 years. “This situation has a huge effect on us.”

The most violent period for bus drivers in the Central American nation was from 2006-2009, when there were as many as five bus drivers killed a day as the result of extortion.

“Five bus drivers killed a day.” Astounding.



Violence in Guatemala

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Violence on public buses in Guatemala has increased as reported by Reuters photographer Daniel LeClair in this BBC post. In the past few years, some 450 bus drivers have been killed. LeClair writes:

“The scenes were chaotic and similar. A driver would be on his route, his bus full of passengers. Suddenly a young man would stand up, approach the driver shooting him at close range in the head, then jump off the moving bus to a waiting motorcycle.” …

“Gangs began to take hold in the 1990s, attracting impoverished and uneducated young men and women. Now they’ve become organized money-making enterprises, extorting businesses, including bus companies, for regular payments and assaulting people on the streets for cash. Narco traffickers have cemented their presence in Guatemala, taking advantage of the authorities’ inability to cope.” …

LeClair ends the article with this:

“I’ve been covering Central America for a decade – coups, riots, hurricanes and so on – but never seen violence like this. I have never seen so many innocent people caught in the middle. The tragedy is that Guatemala has so much to offer. It’s so beautiful and so full of wonderful people. As much as I love this place… the future here is very uncertain.”

Again, please read the entire article here.