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November 15 , 2008

Alfonzo Sanchez's Rule


During Guatemala’s bloody civil war, Alfonzo Sanchez was executing peasants and murdering intellectuals with other shady characters; and making serious enemies. Despite this, Sanchez is mayor of Flores since ’84. He now controls: the sale of illegal arms and all drugs moving through Petén; and a team of excellent artefact looters, while making amazing profits. His greatest ambition – to never get caught!
January 2000, twelve people from the international community, including Mike Foster from the RCMP, are eager to get to work. The International Project on Forced Migration and Social Reconstruction After Wars in the Province of Petén – Guatemala, underway since ’97, is now in its last stretch, backed with assurances of full cooperation at all levels governments from Guatemala’s new president.
Sanchez doesn’t like the idea of seeing them dig up the region’s sordid past nor going through its archives and current paperwork. So he ensures that things will go his way, and with the tacit consent from Petén’s Governor, he hopes to make quite the few million bucks doing it.
After a tourist circuit with two of Sanchez’s cronies as drivers and guides that took them through some of Guate’s most beautiful countryside: “…Sanchez’s wrap-sheet is a wee bit too long for my liking, and let’s face it: Anything is a definite possibility!” Mike Foster stopped short, praying with all his heart that it would indeed be the case.
Two days later: Why are we all behind bars? Foster asks himself.
Thus begins their captivity in a cave thirty meters below the inhospitable jungle, which quickly turns into a nightmare after two die. In their grief, lively discussions ensue about getting Sanchez’s hide tanned and made into unique leather goods and his head shrunk to the size of a small lemon. A romance blooms and a hostage is seduced – all of this while eating lots of goat stew and urgent need for gastrointestinal relief medication for quite the few! When the international community learns about the kidnapping, investigators are dispatched. Guate’s government sends two of its most trusted ministers. Sanchez’s nightmare is just beginning. Once circumstantial charges laid, Sanchez and his cronies vamoose – all will be biding their time until Guate’s officials get their act together and get extradition proceedings underway. Meanwhile, the country is rocked by dozens of earthquakes and one – a 7.2 – allows the hostages to escape. Now, their only way to survive is to cooperate!
Their arduous escape takes them through caves and tunnels with life-enhancing challenges.
Then after trekking through the dense and humid jungle, they finally reach Tikal!
How does this experience change the eight remaining hostages? Out of eight, seven are redefining their priorities while Mike Foster lies in hospital recovering from the malaria he contracted during their escape. He’ll be there for a while as he still has vivid delirium involving: toilet holes, prison bars, flatteners, pouncing jaguars, shrunken heads, and of humongous hairy spiders – the size of dinner plates!

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