Saturday, January 14, 2012

change of command

Today is the day power was handed over to a military leader who entered the presidential palace through the ballot box - at least in theory. I ended up listening to much of the ceremony, which was quite long, on the radio as I was driving from Xela back to Quiché.  I wasn't going to listen, the entire thing made me feel upset, frustrated, discouraged, sad, but then I realized that I should. There were several parts of the ceremony -- first the outgoing president gave an update to Congress, there were some new leaders installed in the congress, various people charged with responsibilities for the events, and then everyone left the congress and went to a place called El Domo in a different part of the city, out by the airport in Zona 13.

I am listening to the acceptance speech on live stream. I had listened to everything up to the actual inauguration in the car, and then got home and started to heat up something for lunch, and then friends started to post about the speech online, so I realized I should find a way to listen. He has been talking about moving beyond the past, reconciliation, justice, the state of law... A lot of empty rhetoric. It is hard to listen to a war criminal talking about the state of law; to listen to a genocider and retired military man talk about reconciliation.  On what basis? To hear someone who denies that there was a genocide talk about moving beyond the past.

I have been writing some of this on Facebook as it has been going on.  Now he is talking about natural riches, saving the environment as part of the national patrimony.  Guatemala needs the strength of all of its children, to make a commitment to the country, so that together we can confront the obstacles, including corruption.  That is an on-the-spot translation.

It's hard to describe my feelings right now. It is an awful moment in so many ways. It represents a step backward. It is hard to imagine what will happen to poor, rural Maya communities.  He is talking about having development and peace.. if we all work together. That there can be economic development if people just work hard.  People work incredibly hard... doesn't mean that there is any kind of progress.

Thankfully, it has ended....

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