Alarmed at the recent cane burning, president Alfonso Portillo has announced that he would send inspectors to evaluate environmental damage caused by such fires. Even though the minister did not specify if any action would be taken against the growers who set fire to sugar cane during the harvest to burn off chaff, he contended that the offenders will be brought to book.

During a helicopter flight, Portillo was shocked to see clouds of smoke covering the coastal plain, home to Guatemala's 17 sugar mills. "This is an environmental threat,' said Portillo.

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