Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Continued

I'm back, but still feeling awful. Hopefully this will pass as I am planning on heading to Honduras tomorrow.

This last Sunday was the national elections. The people turned out in force and narrowly elected Alvaro Colom over Otto Perez Molina. I have been trying to follow the fascinating world of Guatemalan politics as much as possible over the last month and a half. So what is so fascinating about this election? Well, Colom is a business man who has ties to narcotics dealers, and Molina before becoming head of military intelligence during the civil war, participated or ordered the execution of 300 mayans in one village and countless others during his command. As I mentioned earlier on the first day of our trek we were guests in the house of an American expat named Don. Don's story is pretty incredible. He was a soldier during the Vietnam war, and after returning home he left the States for Guatemala. He lived in Guatemala throughout the civil war participating in training many of the guerilla forces fighting for independence. As we sat in his living room sipping licuados and smoking spliffs someone said something about the election. He gave a bit of a snort and began telling us about Molina (at this time I could not remember who Molina was and whether or not he was a serious contender for the Presidency). Colonel Molina was a vicious man who was involved in bombings, executions, and other horrors of the war. "Of course" said Don "this was before he became General Molina, head of G2." "What's G2?" I asked. Taking a long drag from his cigarrete he let out a little chuckle and said "Military Intelligence. Yes, I remember Molina well." Chills went down my spine as I heard this.

Ten minutes later I was standing in the Nebaj graveyard, looking at a plague dedicated to members of the resistance who had been executed in Nebaj. Additionally as I wandered through the graveyard I found several familes who had all died on the same day. These deaths were not from floods, or other natural disasters, but from the regular executions carried out by the army in this region. Sadly, the same people who had murdered so many, and caused so many to die of starvation while they hid in the mountains were now handing out bags of flour and sugar marked with logos of their political parties. Twenty years after the end of the war these people are still in power, and thanks to an uneducated public, desperate for whatever assistance they can get, they are openly supported in areas where they once ruthelessly murdered, raped, robbed, and oppressed. I guess I would have chosen a drug dealer too. Beats the alternative...

I picked up a newspaper yesterday and began reading about the election. However a picture of riot police firing tear gas at protestors soon caught my eye and I began reading about the turmoil surround local elections, apparently many of the local elections were rife with fraud and there were widespread protests in some areas. The pictures became particularly horrifying when I realized that I had been in several of these towns over the past couple of weeks. Yikes!

Next time on August's blog: Rampant Alcoholism and its effects on the health and well being of Guatemaltecos.

Aren't these cheery topics!

4 comments:

DeAnn said...

Hope you feel better soon, August! Is there a place we can send you some Emergen-C? =)

Some heavy topics you are blogging about - very interesting, though.

And looking forward to some pictures, if you can find a better connection or whatever to make it easier!

Daniel said...

Heh August,

Hope you are feeling better.

I enjoyed reading the last two posts very much.

Hope to hear from you in Honduras soon.

Ciao,

Dad

Jun Blaine said...

honduras... nice!

Watty said...

Wow, quite the story. Mark pointed me this way so I could check out what you've been up to on these epic travels of yours. This was the first post I've read, and I'll be keeping up with you. Safe travels, August. This seems to be one hell of a journey you're on. Take care.
-Chris Watson