Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Darkness at noon

I couldn't think of a better title. But that is how I look upon the upcoming elections, as all the polls show that Otto Perez Molina -- responsible for numerous massacres and other abuses during the armed internal conflict -- is leading in the presidential race.  I hope that the Frente Amplio de la Izquierda (Broad Front of the Left), the alliance for which Rigoberta Menchú is the presidential candidate gains some support at the national level, enough to make it a political force that can be considered, and taken seriously. But I don't think there's any serious challenger to Pérez Molina, although we all know that polls are not always the best way to judge or predict an outcome of a political race. But I see people all around in Quiché handing out literature for the Partido Patriota and flocking to the local headquarters. Perhaps they are all just doing because they were paid or promised something or because they are scared of not supporting the Patriota. Regardless of their reasons, the support seems widespread (if not necessarily deep).

Which makes me anticipate September 11, election day, with some dread, and even more dread for the aftermath. I don't want to sound apocalyptic; I don't expect the country to turn into a police state immediately on September 12. But we are already living in an ugly, tense, violent situation -- I should rush to add, my personal safety is not threatened, my town is pretty chill, Quiché might be the poorest department but it is far from the most violent and I do not feel in personal danger. And I cannot imagine it getting better -- all of OPM's rhetoric about security to the contrary notwithstanding. I can only see repression, more disregard for and violation of human rights, and no real change in the level of violence or of poverty. He says he's in favor of concessions to the mining companies: so there goes the environment and land rights.

At the same time, there are some small positive steps regarding the genocide of the 1980s. In the past week or two, there have been some advances in legal cases regarding massacres that took place in the early 1980s - the massacre in the aldea of Dos Erres (Two Rs) in the Petén is one of them. And some people are actually being brought to justice (whether or not they will actually be found guilty is another story.  

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