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Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala’


On July 7 in Guatemala, Cristina Siekavizza, a wife and mother of two, went missing. As of today, Siekavizza is still missing and there are unconfirmed indications that her husband, Roberto Eduardo Barreda (a suspect in this case) and her children, have fled to the United States.

Social media is playing a role in trying to spread the word about Siekavizza. A group called VOCES POR CRISTINA has amassed over 4,000 followers and has actively been reaching out to outlets in the United States to see if anyone has seen Barreda recently and the couple’s two children.

This news has dominated the Guatemalan press since news of Siekavizza’s disappearance went public. Here is one recent column from Guatemala (in Spanish) that tries to capture the issues surrounding this tragedy.

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The Robert A. Watson debacle continues, as yesterday’s Providence Journal blog reported that Watson, the Rhode Island state legislator whose year began with a controversial joke that offended the Guatemalan community and continued with his recent arrest for drunk and marijuana possession, was ousted as House Minority Leader by his Republican colleagues.

Rhode Island State Representative Robert A. Watson

As the ProJo reports:

After a closed-door meeting, the GOP caucus announced its choice of two-term Republican Rep. Brian C. Newberry, 39, of North Smithfield, the current minority whip, to replace Watson as the leading opposition voice on the floor of the overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled House.

The closed-door vote was 6-to-2, with one member of the Republican caucus absent. Only Watson and Rep. John Savage, R-East Providence, voted to keep the status quo.

Another — Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt — left the room in anger after an earlier “vote of no confidence” in Watson, stating: “I can no longer serve with the members of this caucus.

“It’s a disgraceful group of people,” Ehrhardt said. “Rep. Newberry has organized a group to overthrow Rep. Watson’s leadership of this caucus. It’s a dark day for the state of Rhode Island. It’s a dark day for the caucus and for the Republican party….I have no wish to be associated with this group of people at this point.”

Seen on the House floor a short time later, Watson said: “Few people, if any, knew who the minority leader was. I am proud of the voice that I brought to this chamber, and the views that I have articulated on this floor. I will continue to be that voice and I will continue to fight for those issues that truly do matter.

The ProJo also brought up the issue that the small Republican caucus in Rhode Island (10 members) had supported Watson last week:

A week ago, the small GOP caucus gave Watson, an East Greenwich Republican, a vote of confidence in his leadership after he explained to them the circumstances surrounding his arrest at a police sobriety checkpoint in East Haven, Conn., and the medical reasons behind his taking a “small amount” of marijuana with him when he went to Connecticut that day to help a friend move.

Watson won a standing ovation from most of his colleagues in the 75-member House.

He said he did not smoke marijuana the day of his arrest but had found it helpful in the past in alleviating the debilitating pain of periodic pancreatic attacks and had it with him in the event he needed it.

But he acknowledged that he is not among the 3,428 Rhode Islanders legally authorized to use marijuana under the state’s medical-marijuana program — which he supported and co-sponsored in 2005 — because he feared his personal medical information would somehow leak out of the state Department of Health.

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Still stinging from his recent arrest for driving drunk and possession marijuana, Rhode Island Republican state representative and Minority House Leader Robert A. Watson is now facing demands that he resign from Rhode Island’s immigrant Guatemalan community. Watson, who offended the state’s Guatemalan community earlier this year with an ill-timed joke he had made, has indicated that he has no intent of resigning.

Mr. Watson stated that smoking marijuana is not a lifestyle for him,” said David Quiroa, spokesperson for the Guatemalan American Alliance. “Well, being undocumented is not a lifestyle for many hard-working Rhode Islanders neither. They’re just trying to make things better and better their families. [Watson] is going to lose his effectiveness. He is not going to be effective any more.

A local Rhode Island television station ran the segment calling for Watson’s resignation. Here is a video of that segment:

Watson issued the following statement as a response to Quiroa’s request:

I represent people of the towns of East Greenwich and West Greenwich. I respect the Guatemalan community and their right to their opinion.

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