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WESTERN PROTEST

Guatemalans protest at the Benque Freezone

Just after twelve o’clock this afternoon police were called out to the western border to diffuse a situation that saw the Benque Free Zone temporarily closed off. Our news team was dispatched to the border where the riot squad and several police mobiles were seen waiting, in the event that tensions escalated.

Just after twelve o’clock this afternoon police were called out to the western border to diffuse a situation that saw the Benque Free Zone temporarily closed off.  Our news team was dispatched to the border  where the riot squad and several police mobiles were seen waiting, in the event that tensions escalated.  There was no escalation, however, as we were told that the zone management and importers had agreed to meet.  The point of contention had to do with an increase in fees for imported and zone-manufactured cigarettes.  A letter was sent out on October 4, to all stakeholders within the zone.  The letter gave one month’s notice that the fees for every master case would go up by one US dollar.  A master case contains fifty cartons of cigarettes with ten packs per carton.  While no border official was willing to give interviews, Love News was made to understand that in protest of the increase in fees, a truck containing cigarettes, intentionally blocked off the entrance of the zone on the Guatemalan side.  We tried reaching the CEO of the Benque Free Zone, Benedict Palacio but our calls went unanswered.