Archive for March, 2007

Waiting for Hurricane George

March 11, 2007

So, we just returned from a lovely afternoon walk in our blockaded neighborhood here in Guatemala City. It’s pretty eerie out there and reminds me of when I was growing up in Central Florida. When we had hurricanes, we usually knew they were coming a couple of days ahead of time – enough to put plywood up on the windows, buy extra groceries, and then go for a walk under sunny skies. On our walks, we’d always bump into the neighbors and chat, all while feeling a sense of impending doom/giddiness. It was the same this afternoon here in la Zona Viva…

A few notes on the visit:

I’m frustrated with CNN’s lack of coverage of President Bush’s Latin American trip – instead, it’s every detail about the happy news of the baby from Lubbock, TX being found, the Atlanta bus crash, and the forest fires in California – but nothing on Colombia.

As I posted in the comments below, the Mayan people near Iximche are going to do a purification ritual of the site after Bush’s visit tomorrow. I find this whole purification stuff to be really interesting – from a religious and PR/political statement point of view. Some of you might remember conversations in the past about purifying Gandhi’s tomb after Bush’s visit a few years ago (more about the bomb-sniffing dogs than Bush…).

The graffiti outside of our neighborhood is intense and scary. Although Guatemala has not seen the kind of protests that occurred in Brazil and Uruguay/Argentina, the graffiti is pretty incredible – those people who do want to protest Bush’s visit sure have some nasty things to say/write! It certainly speaks to the growing negative perceptions of the US here in Latin America.

Immigration – not crime, foreign aid, drug trafficking, or Iraq – seems to be the main issue on everyone’s mind here. Many Guatemalans have family and friends in the US and the desire for a fair immigration package is the one issue mentioned by most people I talk to and those quoted in the papers.

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President Bush in Guatemala

March 9, 2007

It’s striking to see how much President Bush is a major part of life outside the US. His upcoming visit to Guatemala is on the front pages here everyday. Bush has never been here before, and will spend his whirlwind 24 hours in meetings in the capital and visiting a town nearby to highlight the benefits of free trade and US aid to Guate. They’ll be shutting down the streets in our Zone for his motorcade, and we’ve been hearing the sounds of security airplanes and helicopters for the past few days since they’ll be shutting down airspace too.

I hope while Bush is here, he will address the recent situation of violence here (the murder of some El Salvadoran congressmen followed by the execution of the confessed policemen/murderers/witnesses in jail). The NY Times has covered the story and so has DailyKos (where you’ll see the historic politics-religion connection…). And, in honor of International Women’s Day, it was interesting to see al-Jazeera (which oddly comes on cable here) cover the Guatemalan femicide… All this should give you pause about criminal justice and impunity everywhere.

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