Friday, October 14, 2011

Now the next stage begins: analyzing election 2011

The left, as it should be clear, did not do especially well in the 2011 elections in Guatemala. The candidate with whom I worked, Doña Matilde, was not elected to congress. But looking at the electoral context nationally, the left did not gain seats in Congress, nor did it gain representation at the municipal level.  So, today we are at a meeting with people who worked on the Frente Amplio campaign in the department of Quiché to look at the results, compare them with previous results, try to analyze what is going on, and then think about how to move forward for the next four years and beyond.

As I noted in a previous entry, Doña Matilde did not see her failure to gain a seat in congress as a complete failure. The fact that we were able to mount any kind of campaign -- and the fact that she gained over 9,000 votes --- was itself an accomplishment. She, and Doña Fermina, who was not even able to get on the ballot at the last minute, because of some failure in the alliance between the three parties that comprised the Frente Amplio.

First I had to pick up Doña Fermina; actually, before that, I had to pick up some kuxa for her since Chinique is where the good kuxa is, apparently. So I stopped by the "factory" a little after 7 with two empty bottles and got her a half-gallon, which we dropped off at her house. Then we had to get a candle and some flowers for the altar.  Then drop the materials off where the meeting was going to take place, and then double back to the plaza to pick up some of the people who had arrived from other municipalities, to give them a ride to the meeting locale. Then arranging the tables, preparing the flowers, and then helping set up the projector for the presentation.

There are about 25 people here - not a bad showing, considering the weather. It is still raining, and has been raining for days. The roads are bad; there have been landslides. And actually as I write, a few people have arrived -- it's a big department and people have come from some pretty distant municipalities. So the number might get as high as 30 or 40 before the day is over.

The meeting started, as most meetings do, with setting up a simple altar and making a prayer. Now there is a presentation by Gregorio Chay, who is with the URNG, and a political analyst as well. He is giving an overview of the results and exploring why the indigenous majority has not been able to exercise political power. This is similar to a presentation I heard him give last week, with a group of women, but this time with people specifically involved with the left parties.

His analysis is pretty straightforward: the indigenous majority can't have full political rights (i.e real democracy) without a fundamental change in the country. There have been as many as 30 indigenous representatives in congress but they have never been able to make a substantial change (there are 158 representatives in Congress and 30 is not a large enough bloc to pass any legislation). The country is still governed by the wealthy, and the power structure is fairly inflexible and does not allow for real change.  He also argues that the left parties are on the point of disappearance -- that they have lost political strength rather than gained it, compared with other years. I will add some more observations later on, as the meeting progresses.

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