Guatemala: The Silence that Kills

Translated  by Marvin Najarro

For generations we have been told, since post-dictatorship times, that a closed mouth catches no flies, that is why we hang ourselves to it so shamelessly, because it is not about the fear our grandparents lived through during the dictatorships, but about turning a blind eye when the violence is experienced by the indigenous peoples who have always been seen as the servants at the service of the urban mestizos. They have been the most beaten, impoverished, and exploited to the point of exhaustion; the most massacred.

If there are people who have been abused in Latin American history, they are the indigenous peoples, who have survived genocides for 500 years, and yet their resistance rises above to any university degree and asphalted street.  They have been betrayed time and again by the humanist mestizo who with his silence conceals any act of violence perpetrated by the government that, with its tentacles of oppression, criminalizes any form of denunciation and resistance carried out by the indigenous peoples. 

The government has taken away their right to education, to health; to a dignified life. They are forced to be the servants of the most despicable landowner and even of the most insignificant mestizo who in exchange for a pittance has them cleaning their houses and taking care of their children. Because they, together with the blacks, are the ones at the end of the line, those who carry on their backs all the evils of the immoral and treacherous society that rides roughshod over the dignity of those who continue to walk with their heads held high, even if blood drips from their temples and their feet are broken.

They are the hands that build, the hands that show solidarity, they continue to be the shawls that shelter; the eyes that, despite the tears, glimpse the dawns of struggle and resistance that a mestizo will never be able to match. They are the ones who know the land and its charms, the voice of the mountains and the tempest of the sea; they are the ones who know the wisdom of the rivers and the magnificence of the volcanoes. They are the ones who know the immensity of the rain and the purity of the wild flowers.

We, the mediocre, the arrogant, the urban mestizos, personify the betrayal, the silence that kills when it conceals the violence perpetrated by the state and we turn a blind eye, because the light that emanates from the heart of the indigenous peoples forces us to hide under the beds, for being so mean and cowardly in the face of the courage, resistance and dignity of those who have been fighting for more than 500 years. University degrees, asphalt and teflon we can hide them with us under the beds, which have no place when it comes to struggle and fortitude, because for that we have the example of the sages, who without knowing how to read or write teach us to defend the land and life united in solidarity. Alas, we are good, but for the betrayal and for the silence that kills in the same way as firing the machine gun; we also have our hands stained with blood, because in the end in this society of masks, no one can hide his sins.

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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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