HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Places » International » Latin America (Group) » Escaping a Failed State

Tue Jul 29, 2014, 03:01 PM

Escaping a Failed State

July 28, 2014
After Decades of Civil War Followed by Neoliberal Reforms, Guatemala's Children are Fleeing Escalating Violence

Escaping a Failed State


Gate 31 of the Tom Bradley International Terminal in Los Angeles is packed with white American tourists, volunteers and missionaries, waiting in little huddles. And there too are Guatemalans and American/Guatemalan children waiting to depart for Central America. Everyone chit chats. In English. In Spanish. In Spanglish. The tourists and volunteers pay us Guatemalans no mind. They exercise their civil inattention, a practice we Guatemalans consider rude and contemptuous. But no one really seems to care. We all want to go to Guatemala. I hear whispers and conversations about “dangerous Guatemala,” the incessant killings, and the deportations. Yet, here we are. Here I am, going home one more time as a transnational American.

Six hours later at the Guatemala International Airport, La Aurora, families jubilantly gather at the main gate. One by one Guatemalans get picked up by their families and go home. My ride is late. It is a chance for me to sit and observe. The white American tourists and volunteers huddle even tighter. Their faces reveal worry, even here at this very militarized airport, militarized for their safety. Their very presence is important for the Guatemalan government. They must be protected. They get picked up in a late model Mercedes Benz bus with tinted windows and an armed guard. There is a small placard on the windshield that says “Antigua,” the most secure city in the entire country. For two decades Antigua has been the main destination for white tourists from the United States and Europe. But between the airport and Antigua exists a Guatemala most tourists and volunteers never get to see. Especially white Americans.

Another world unfolds as soon as you walk out of the airport. A world buzzing with hard working people who live in perpetual fear. Extortion by well-armed and highly organized gangs is now a national problem. Most small businesses, corporations, and even sex workers and tortilla makers must pay up to these gangs upon threat of death. And there are many who refuse to pay, and even risk reporting them to the authorities. Murder is a common occurrence. Bus drivers are shot dead in broad daylight. Small storeowners or their relatives are shot on the spot. Body dumping has become commonplace.

Killing styles have become standardized. Incarcerated gang leaders dispatch two-men teams on motorcycles. The passenger is the shooter. Five to ten shots to the head and torso with a semi-automatic gun is the preferred execution method. According to the National Institute of Forensic Sciences 1,747 people have been murdered between January and May 31st of this year. Corrupt prison guards smuggle cell phones to organized crime leaders, along with any other tools they might need to guide the mayhem from behind bars.

Guatemala is virtually a war zone. Police from different federal agencies patrol in late model trucks armed with military weaponry. They swarm poor zones of the cities and countryside. Teams of soldiers led by police captains are dispatched every morning to most zones, including wealthy areas that are now fair game to extortion and kidnapping gangs. Fifty percent of the National Police patrols the capital city. Private security guards stand alert at virtually every successful business. They carry fully loaded shotguns with the safety switch off. Badly trained and under-paid, these guards have killed innocent civilians by mistake. Their fear for their own lives keeps them on edge.


3 replies, 640 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jul 29, 2014, 04:46 PM

1. Jesus, what a way to live. Sounds like Sicily when the Mafia held total sway,


murdering judges, police and anyone who opposed them.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Flatulo (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 29, 2014, 11:05 PM

3. They were shown a long time ago those who control Guatemala view Guatemalans' lives as cheap,

to be destroyed if the people won't take the abuse and love it.

It wasn't that long ago Ronald Reagan's evil buddy, Efrain Rios-Montt was in full swing, attacking entire villages of Mayan citizens, slaughtering the people, burning their homes to the ground, and this on the heels of an overthrow of their elected leftist President in 1954, for which Efrain Rios-Montt was also present.

Guatemalan citizens have been living in pure hell.

A little look at US former President Ronald Reagan's favorite Guatemalan monster, Rios-Montt:


The generals also unleashed a scorched earth attack on the nation’s Mayan population that, according to a UN commission, resulted in the annihilation of at nearly 600 villages. Within 18 months, more than 19,000 people had perished at the hands of Ríos Montt ‘s death squads. The killings continued even after Ríos Montt was eased from office in 1983. By 1990, more than 200,000 people had died in Guatemalan’s bloody civil war, with more than 90 percent of the dead killed by government forces. Of those, more than 83 percent were indigenous Mayans.

Perhaps as many as one million more Guatemalans, many of them Mayan peasants, were uprooted from their homes, many of them forced to live in "re-education" camps enclosed with barbed wire and armed guards. Many were later forced to work in the fields of Guatemalan land barons.

"Not even the lives of the elderly, pregnant women or innocent children were spared," declared the Guatemalan Council of Catholic Bishops in 1982 about the massacres under Ríos Montt. "We have never in our history seen such serious extremes."

Ríos Montt shrugged off such talk as leftwing propaganda. "We don’t have a policy of scorched earth," he sneered. "We have a policy of scorched Communists."


He publically offered them a choice between "beans or bullets." I've never really heard if he actually gave out beans but he was more than delighted to shoot the hell out of the poor people of Guatemala. Typical a-hole right-winger. Unfortunately, he is still living.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jul 29, 2014, 05:12 PM

2. Where did the author pull out that info on the world's most deadly countries?


Honduras is first, Venezuela 2nd, El Salvador 4, and Guate 5 Iraq and Afganistan were note even in the top 10.

Wrong information stated in article, and no citation so its simply wrong:
"The United Nations has positioned Guatemala as the fifth most deadly nation in the world. The other four are nations in open conflict like Iraq and Afghanistan."

Whats this supposed to mean: "But between the airport and Antigua exists a Guatemala most tourists and volunteers never get to see. Especially white Americans." The area between Guatemala and Antigua is somewhat rural. Its Guatemala City that is the shit hole. I'd rather be in the area between Guatemala City and Antigua than in Guatemala city anytime. Why does the author take a shot at white Americans? Are Germans, ENglish, French, Dutch, or Asian Americans more likely to visit the area between Guatemala City and Antigua? What evidence does the author provide?

Other than that it sounds like about the same as the Guatemala I knew back in the 90s, maybe a bit worse and definitely more crowded. Too bad the OP poster can't distinguish the BS from the truth.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread