January 1st, Just Like Any Another Day

Translated  by Katrina Hassan Catalina buys the chicken first thing in the morning, together with the vegetables that will accompany the dish. She also buys the fruit to make punch. She would like to make tamales but it is too much work to do on her own. When Catalina finishes work she is too tired. She barely has any energy left to clean her small apartment, where she lives with her two kids. Juan is 12 and Guadalupe is 3. Today she must go to the laundromat because her building doesn’t have a laundry room. She is running late to prepare…

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Xiomara Castro, the Rebirth of Honduras

Translated by  Marvin Najarro Painful have been the humiliations suffered by the undocumented Central American migrants trying to cross Mexico to reach the United States, seeking to escape the institutional violence of the narco-state, namely Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The notorious Northern Triangle that opportunistic politicians toss around in their speeches on behalf of the transnational corporations, which in exchange for some crumbs they throw around, sack the entrails of the land, destroying what it doesn’t belong to them but to the peoples who have been reviled for centuries.    Victims of corruption, impoverished and mistreated, these people have been…

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Hating Cuba Just for the Sake of It

Translated by  Marvin Najarro We, the generation of amnesia, the useless herd of children who grew up in Latin American post-dictatorship, were left with nothing but the bagasse. They took the books away from us, the musical education, art classes, and physical education. All at once we were left with no school yard, they left us without desks, ceilings, and finally without schools; in these countries plundered by mobs of ungrateful sons who dared to spit out the bowels where they came out. And then one day, they left us without a home.  Consequently, thirsty, we absorbed the gall of betrayal…

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The Break of Dawn

Translated  by Katrina Hassan During the last three years of my elementary school, my days were spent wearing donkey ears during recess time.  I had to face the wall, looking towards the classrooms. I was punished every single recess time, every day, without fail. I didn’t even get to enjoy one day of play. I always wished and yearned for more than my life circumstances could permit. I always dreamed of liberty and equality at a young age. I was a tremendously wild girl that didn’t fit the norm. I was full of energy and thought of myself as part of…

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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…

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The Herders We Have Become

Translated  by Katrina Hassan In Guatemala, the land where racists, xenophobes, homophobes, corrupt, and classists abound. To be black is worse than to be indigenous. Blacks are at the bottom of the social classes and also in the human rights department. Nobody wants to have a black friend, employer or teacher, wife and or kids. As unbelievable as it seems, the native people who have also been exploited and excluded, they want nothing to do with the black people.  Oh, the irony! In Guatemala, black people are only good for one thing. Everyone is dying to have a black lover, but…

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Resistance Through Writing and Art

Translated  by Marvin Najarro My written expression was born out of my lack of verbal expression. I have never been able to communicate with humans; worlds and erupting volcanoes inhabit inside me, but on the outside I am an iceberg; coldness in itself. It is hard for me to approach people, I am not shy, on the contrary, I am bold, fluent with words thanks to my Alma Mater; the marketplace where I grew up selling ice creams. That experience taught me to go out and make a living at a fast pace; shyness does not help to survive. So, thanks…

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The Homeland of the Undocumented

 Translated  by Marvin Najarro After the fence, the homeland becomes a perennial longing. The undocumented know this more than anyone else. It becomes that old letter of paper worn out by so much folding and unfolding. It is in the evocation of rainy days, of the milpa growing, of fresh chipilín flowers and the aroma of coffee cooked in a clay pot. The fog of the land left behind on the other side of the fence crosses the borders and seeps through the crevices in the windows of the skyscrapers where the generations who had to emigrate, because in their own…

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Social Networks Progressives

 Translated  by Marvin Najarro Latin America is infested with formidable social networks progressives; some with a thicker skin claim to be revolutionaries. As in times past, when paper put up with everything that was written on it, now it is the social networks. They are the catalyst par excellence of our human mediocrity. They say that anyone has social networks nowadays, but no, not anyone, only those who have access to a computer, a smart phone or a tablet, those who have the economy to pay for internet at home, the people, the hoi polloi, do not even have access to…

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Dignifying the Arrabal

Translated  by Katrina Hassan Historically, in the classist and racist societies, the arrabal or the “hood” is where all the evils of the world collide. This is why, whoever comes from the hood, has to be a thief, abuser, racketeer, rapist, murderer and every other accusation that a person can think of. To be rid of these labels is a titanic feat. The stigma is part of the arrabal DNA. To be from the hood is an impediment for getting a good job, to study and to have interpersonal relationships outside of your own kind. People view those coming from the…

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The Assyrian Man and My Bamboo Sticks

Translated  by Marvin Najarro I am trying to find bamboo sticks to tie down the sunflower stems which are growing and are already bending over. I walk along the shelves full of pots with summer varieties, flamboyant colors, different types of yellow, and the green bottle or green avocado of the leaves. Fuchsia and pitaya colors and bright orange ones. Older adults are hired temporarily to take care for the flowers in the nursery; they water them, remove the dry leaves and carefully place the flowers on the shelves. The young workers are in the topsoil and fertilizer area carrying and…

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Frida’s Immensity Encompasses and Illuminates All

This essay belongs to The Insurrectionists Women series Translated  by Katrina Hassan Many critics considered Frida Kahlo a naïve artist. They undervalued her artistic technique. Frida overcame the passage of time and her art travelled the world over as if it became small enough for the palm of her hand. This limitless woman dared to resist. She questioned, rebelled and said no to wasting away, inert. The pain Frida felt did not rob her of expressing what was in her soul. Against all odds, Frida painted, painted and painted. She showed us, with her naïve art, the beauty of simple souls.…

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The Cuban Doctors in Guatemala, A Breath of Fresh Air

Translated  by Marvin Najarro In the midst of a rotten system, plagued with corruption and impunity that corrodes the foundations of Guatemalan society and take with it the people’s lives by the thousand, there is, like a breath of fresh air, the medical brigade that shoulders the most vulnerable, because it is present where the national doctors are not. And they are the Cuban doctors, willing to exalt the mission of saving lives.   A bunch of criminals, who place their puppets in any sitting government, have taken on the task of plundering the state’s resources which has caused people to give…

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