Living and working in Guatemala is always a learning experience. The political and social fabric is a colourful and somewhat chaotic weave of traditional values and a push towards “modernization”.
Today the political arena is imploding with numerous scandals of serious corruption by the highest administrative officials, including the VP, who recently resigned in disgrace.
The general population of Guatemala is righteous indignant by health ministers taking brides for health contracts from incompetent companies that resulted in 5 deaths. Customs officials lowered duty on incoming containers for multimillion dollar bribes. Police officials diverted money for repair of patrol cars and police stations. Three quarters of congressional security guard’s salaries were diverted to a private company owned by the head of Congress,who is now under arrest. And the list continues.
Some recent news:
All these revelations of corruption have the president in a corner with 50,000 demonstrators demanding his resignation, every Saturday in the capital. In a country with 50% of children suffering malnutrition, a pathetic public education system and a crippled health care system, the population is aware that every dollar counts. Those that are stealing the money are not poor, in fact they are the financial elite. Many have been arrested, but few will ever see jail time because of prevailing impunity of the very weak justice system.
Just to be clear, I am not making a political statement. I want the readers and supporters of Project Somos to know the landscape in which we live and work. At the base of working to assist widowed and abandoned mothers with children is a deep conviction that poverty and the many social and political ills are not economically based but are a social justice issue. Some in “high”society have the inherited belief that some segments of society are not deserving of a safe home, a healthy family or a bright future. It seems in their view, not all are created equal.
The holders of this cold and flawed philosophy certainly believe they, their family and friends are entitled to all the benefits that society can offer, but outside of that circle, they are indifferent. If you think this position is extreme or erroneous, just ask the former Guatemalan vice president or the dozens of incarcerated government ministerial bureaucrats – their circle of concern for the welfare of others extended only as far as their self-serving egos. Will the social outrage of the population make a lasting impact to the currency impunity and corruption? Only time will reveal the resolution.