Archive for the ‘Guatemala’ Category

Bye for now…

May 14, 2007

There is nothing sadder than a blog that is just hanging there in eternity, its latest entry getting older and older… As you may have noticed, I’m on semi-permanent hiatus from our precious blog. As I prepare for the next big thing in life and relocate back to the States this month, time is of the essence, and I sadly just don’t have enough of it these days.

Hopefully someday, HinduChristianJew will be resurrected (or reincarnated, whatever you believe in), but for now, I’ll have to take solace in looking back on all these great archives and knowing that we furthered interfaith dialogue in our little corner of the world…

In the meantime, I am cleaning up our blogroll and adding some gems from folks I met at a recent Fulbright conference, so check those out and enjoy! Blessings from the land of eternal spring!

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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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Soy milk makes you gay?

December 13, 2006

Can you believe this guy? He claims that soy makes children gay. How bizarre. Here are some funny commentaries from Wonkette, TGW, and DailyKos.

Number 1 – he’s apparently only talking about boys, although he never makes that entirely clear.

Number 2 – what about all those people in Asia?

Number 3 – LOVE the lack of links supporting anything he’s saying.

As a straight, lactose-intolerant woman who has been drinking soy milk for most of my life, the entire article is hilarious – you have to read it. I don’t get why the right-wing always makes it seem like there is something sinister and threatening to American values about soy and vegetarians. Given that I like both of those things and I like America, I’m particularly curious…

In a comical linguistic snafu, I was trying to find more blogs about this ridiculous article, and typed “soy gay” into Google, only to get tons of Spanish-language books and list-serves for gay Latin Americans (“soy gay” translates into “I am gay” in Spanish) through my Google.com.gt

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Happy Burning of the Devil Day!

December 7, 2006

Today is “Quema del Diablo”, or the day that residents of the city light all their old stuff in flames! How cool is that? (Although I guess there are some environmental problems…) Students burn their old notes from the school year gone by, residents burn everything they don’t need.

Yesterday, while walking to the library, I saw stands set up by the side of the road selling fireworks and bright red, paper mache devil pinatas! I don’t have much to burn since I haven’t been here long, but I thought that given the religious tone of our blog, it would be fun to celebrate Burning the Devil Day together!

Don’t forget to keep checking out Seth in Peru!

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5.8 Earthquake in Guatemala

December 4, 2006

We had a moderate earthquake today in Guatemala City that felt like a pretty big one! We’re doing fine and there appears to be no damage or disruption of power.  The entire building was rocking back and forth and felt like it was on water for about 60 seconds, though. Pretty frightening…

Check out the US Geological Survey for some cool maps…

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Evangelical rock concert

October 31, 2006

So I spent the past four days trapped in an evangelical torture chamber, or Profecía 2006. On the invitation of a friend, I attended this four-day Neo-Pentecostal mega-church conference with participants from around the world. (As background, Guatemala is experiencing a massive conversion from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical/Neo-Pentecostal Christianity. There are about five mega-churches in the city, each with stadium-style seating, packing in 3,000 to 5,000 people per service, several times a day, every Sunday. There are also countless smaller, store-front evangelical churches throughout the city and countryside. Basically, it’s something I’d definitely like to learn more about as a phenomenon while I’m here.)

The most striking thing about the conference for me was the utter lack of ANY quiet time. (Thus the torture chamber reference.) It was constant noise – speaking in tongues, screaming, singing with a loud Christian pop band, what they called “clamoring” for God. I came home and instituted a silence policy each night – NO speaking to my husband, NO television, NO music. It was like being at a loud rock concert for the entire waking day (9am to 9pm everyday), with no time to process.

As a practicing Hindu, I’m used to silent meditation retreats to commune with God, daily meditation, and soothing chanting… On a related side note, every time I was asked about my heritage during the conference, I obviously said India (my Spanish is certainly not good enough to pretend that I’m brown-skinned because I’m Latina). The response is ALWAYS, “There is so much work to be done in India” – i.e., so many souls to be saved.

A whole group of “prophets” came here from the U.S. as the conference’s headliners. They were very charismatic, fire-and-brimstone preachers from the American South and Midwest (and one guy from home in the Bay Area). Although much of what the U.S. speakers said and did bordered on the intolerant, offensive, or charlatan (and strangely out-of-context for Guatemala), I was really impressed by many of the people I met over the course of the four days. In addition to being very sweet and kind, they were extremely intelligent and well-read about religious history, poverty in Latin America, and social movements. Every one of them had a strong belief (which I share) in God’s ability to grant us each a mystical, individual experience and inspire us to acts of bravery and charity… I guess I found that it’s good to go outside of my comfort zone sometimes if I really want “inter-faith” experiences…

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Guatemala vs. Venezuela (and other political musings)

October 21, 2006

Three interesting pieces of political news from Guatemala this week:

First, the voting continues for a temporary seat on the Security Council – it’s between Guatemala and Venezuela. The press here is definitely covering Hugo Chavez’s antics, who makes it sound like he’s running against the U.S. for the seat – as if a vote for Guatemala is a vote for George W. Bush or something… I think it would be great for Guatemala to be on the Council and to have more exposure on the world stage. At least the voting process is making more people around the world aware of Guatemala, its political interests, its economy, its culture…

Second, this past Tuesday, 10 major political party leaders – guided by a group of 15 community and academic leaders – released a “Visionary Plan for the Country,” with goals for improvement in the areas of security (which is dismal – see previous posts), health and nutrition (also dismal, since Guatemala this year fell to the bottom of Latin American-Caribbean countries in terms of child malnutrition), rural development, and education. Come this December, ten years will have passed since the Guatemalan Peace Accords, so it is time for a new agenda to shock the political system here – everyone I know here is pretty skeptical, but I still hope this is it…

Third, Wonkette – in a striking departure from its normal, humorous tone – covers the impending page scandal regarding House representative Jerry Weller, whose father-in-law happens to be Guatemalan former president/dictator, Efrain Rios Montt. Frankly, I’m addicted to U.S. mid-term election news, so it was surprising to see a Guatemalan connection like this. The Guatemalan supreme court ruled last week or the week before that Rios Montt cannot run for president again, but that still doesn’t seem to stop him as I just saw a campaign commercial for him on the local news channel yesterday… maybe he’s the equivalent of a Guatemalan Ralph Nader (but obviously more sinister)?

(Cross-posted at The View From Here.)

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