Guatemala: The Greatest Affront

Translated  by Marvin Najarro

At the level of analysis is interesting to observe the behavior and passivity of the Guatemalan population, they get involved in protests because a government run by a gang of crooks has pocketed millions of quetzales, but look the other way when the indigenous peoples are murdered and dispossessed of their lands. The government can impose states of siege in key places where drug planes land and leave those indigenous communities isolated for months without the city’s mestizo intelligentsia saying a word. These governments, through the activities of mining companies, have also been destroying the habitat of these communities for decades, but this too has not been enough to provoke the response of the above mentioned.  Farther east, bordering Honduras and El Salvador, people are dying of hunger, the famine has caused unspeakable suffering, and it is not new, it’s been happening for years, but let them die alone for being illiterate, for being poor, for being campesinos, that the capitalinos don’t give a damn about them. You’re kidding!  

They haven’t come out to demonstrate against the disappearances and murders of girls, adolescents and women, as if they didn’t matter, as if they did not exist. None of them, university women, intellectual men, nuns, university professors, doctors and social organizations; but they were deeply affected when they learned that the crooks looted such a wad of money. There, among the protesters the diversity of trades and professions is colorful. The power of money! No Ilka, it is not the money, it is the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Okay, it’s good; I’m going to believe you. 

Decades destroying the Petenera and Lacandon jungles and the honorable Guatemalan people don’t show any sign of concern. Ecocides related to the African palm industry, but it does not matter because it is out there beyond the city limits. In times of pandemic, and with the health system collapsed, those who rose to the occasion were the indigenous peoples donating their crops, now that the storm has left them without crops and homes they are alone, as they have always been, there is no one for them. Neither the intelectuales mestizos, nor the university students, nor the brave activists, because they show up only when the sewers in the city overflow; the rest of the country does not exist for them. Except, of course, that handful of have-nots who are always willing to help and show solidarity, but it is not the population in itself. The answer is not massive then. 

Children who travel alone from Guatemala arrive in the United States every day, a lot of kids! And nobody has showed any sign of concern for the lives of these children and their parents, for a single life, a single child; where is the so-called society in all of this? But some bandits made off with a few millions, and it hurts them as if they have been flayed alive. Well, for what it’s worth, doing something is always better than doing nothing, but you have to start somewhere. Neither fish nor fowl, the truth is that the capitalinos though belatedly but are back in the plazas again. Although for an endless number of circumstances (pretexts), the day of indignation (and of tanning) will be on Saturdays, because on weekdays the only ones with the backbone are the indigenous people (and as usual, the few have-nots).  The most impoverished, those with scant opportunities, the most systematically abused; those who have endured hunger; those who walk miles and miles barefoot in the rain and sun. Those who defend water as a human right. They who know that the names of the days do not exist when the oppressor attacks, when the state decides to pepper them with bullets. To understand this, the capitalinos still lack a few marbles; or rather stop playing the ignorant. 

It was also the case with Otto Pérez Molina and the Alaska massacre when soldiers murdered indigenous people for peacefully demonstrating in the country’s west, they didn’t give a damn about it,  but came out to demonstrate when they found out that he was pocketing wads of money, and later let themselves be fooled, as in soccer chilena goal, when Jimmy Morales was seated in the butacona, this is the same person who bears direct responsibility in the case of the girls burned to death in the fire at Hogar Seguro. He played them for fools, and not even say goodbye to them when he fled to Panama with bags full of money. They were not moved, or upset by the femicide perpetrated by the state. What are we Guatemalans made of? Of hard cork, as the story goes. Well, time will tell, but while we find out the plazas are warming up. But what happened that this capitalinos so outraged now didn’t do so when the genocide trial against Ríos Montt? I tell you, the behavior and passivity of Guatemalan society is the subject of analysis, even if hastily done. 

The truth is that the mean, criminal, insolent and a crook Giammattei, does not deserve another day in the poltrona. If the blatant theft of millions that the government received in economic aid due to the pandemic or the wads of money that some corrupt legislators wanted to loot made the Guatemalan angry once again, very well, everything is welcome when it comes to defend the rights of citizens. 

Since it has not been the systematic violence directed to the most vulnerable, the theft of land and natural resources approved by the State, since it has not been the femicides and inhuman treatment of the population by the government in times of pandemic and tropical storms. Since it has not been the famine in the country’s eastern part; the level of violence employed by the police to quash the peaceful demonstration must be taken as the greatest affront, because there two people lost their eyes, others were seriously injured and the images of the arbitrary arrests speak for themselves.   

Giammattei watched the violence used by the neoliberal and corrupt governments of Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia (coup) and Colombia, and said I’m going to emulate them. Well, he can take his time and hope that the population would not become angry and sit back and do nothing. There is always an opportunity for vindication and it is about time for Guatemalan society to dignify itself. 

It is time to change that hard cork DNA for boiling blood that dignifies the population, but for that the capitalino mestizo must get rid of the inherited burden which he keeps alive and well: racism, classism and arrogance. It is not about who knows more, has more education, speaks more beautifully, makes the most decorated poster because he studied architecture and arts, who is the toughest guy who goes to humiliate the policemen who have not eaten in hours, have not get paid in months, have not seen their families in days and who sleep in places without the proper sanitary accomodations.  

It is not about displaying the class privileges that some have enjoyed in front of those who are also abused people. In order to know and understand this, you do not need master’s degrees, only common sense. It is not about painting a Picasso in front of them, who have blisters on their feet from the shoes they wear, who are no allowed to go to the bathroom. It is not about displaying sports skills in elite disciplines in a looted and impoverished country in front of those who have not had greater opportunities in life. No Ilka, because there are always opportunities. False! If there were opportunities in Guatemala, people would not have to migrate without documents. 

That’s not fighting; the cultural revolution is another thing. That is bragging and looking for a photo op for the social networks or a desire to appear on TV. Yes, but what about the repressive police? It is not against them that the fight should be directed, their violence must be exposed, all right, but it is against those who control the institutions of power. It is as if we jumped on someone who stole a wallet, but don’t say anything against the oligarchic big mafias. It is the same. Justice is applied according to the committed crime. 

The indigenous peoples have always been fighting in solitude, let’s hope that once and for all the capitalinos mestizos have the humility, courage and historical memory to join them and fight together for a Asamblea Constituyente Popular y Plurinacional, hopefully they don’t give up at the slightest opportunity, as they always do, believing themselves to be the most important because of class, education and ethnicity. 

Yes, Ilka, but what about the migrants, how do they respond to all this? The undocumented migrants are those who with their bones and blood, with their endless sleeplessness and their three shifts a day, keep Guatemala afloat through the remittances they send. Asking them for more is the height of shamelessness. Let’s hope they don’t let another puppet to be imposed on the poltrona. And hopefully it won’t take long for them to understand that an indefinite general strike is the only viable option so that the criminal cliques that have infested the government and the Congress know that you don’t mess with the people, you respect them! 

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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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