Saturday, July 16, 2011


By Fernando Suazo, Rebelion,, July 12, 2011

(Translation for Rights Action by Rosalind Gill,

Once again, Guatemala’s reputation on the world stage has been stained by an abject crime. This time it was Facundo Cabral who fell victim to our long and tragic saga of domestic crime. Cabral, a famous Argentinean citizen of the world – “I am not from here, neither am I from there”, “I have no age, no future” – had been a faithful friend during our uprisings in the seventies.

And while this bloody deed is being investigated, and the media competes to provide us with the latest details on the murder, it is time for us to look into the distance at the dark horizon that caused this murder and so many other crimes in our country.

It has only been two and a half weeks since the International Conference of Support for the Central American Security Strategy was held. The objective of this conference was to find ways to combat organized crime. During the conference, even the normally submissive presidents of the region spoke to Hilary Clinton in a manner that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, or even a few months ago: The Mexican president dared to say what everyone in that country knows very well, even the birds, that 70% of the vehicles, aircraft, arms and munitions that kill our people are sold in the United States.

The Guatemalan president surprised us by saying that 83% of the drugs that pass through the region are consumed in the United States, and the remaining 17% in Europe. The presidents of Costa Rica and El Salvador stated firmly that drug trafficking would not exist without the enormous demand in the United States. The president of Colombia pointed out that the presence of drug trafficking mortally corrupts a democracy and eliminates many of the best professionals and civil servants in the country (I don’t know if he actually said the ‘mediocre’, which is the majority, that are corrupted by it).

It is clear that the United States must take responsibility for the situation – even Clinton recognized that her country is part of the problem — “We are accelerating our police patrols to find transnational organized crime networks ...” (we assume she meant within her country, but US imperialist diplomacy would, of course, not allow her to say so precisely).

There is no doubt that our region is the most violent part of the continent, and although it has no declared wars, it is one of the most violent areas of the world. According to the UNDP, the homicide rate in Central America is 33.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. Could this have anything to do with our imperialist neighbour to the north?

“Organized crime, basically derived from drug trafficking, is the most serious threat to the Guatemalan State. (…) It has infiltrated it and subordinated it over the last ten years, since Guatemala was convinced by the US to finance Reagan’s anti-communist policy in Central America.” This quote from journalist José Rubén Zamora refers to the eighties and the imperialist National Security Doctrine. (el Periódico, 27/06/11).

In the meantime, Guatemalans are shamed on the international stage because of the tragic death of a visitor from Argentina who sang such meaningful songs as: “My boss, poor guy, thinks I’m the one who’s poor …”

The word shame is on the lips of many people these days. Others, who take a more commercial point of view, point out that this crime will harm our tourist industry. And here we are, vacillating between shame and exposure of the fact that our beauty has been sacked, alienated and corrupted.

But is shame what we are really experiencing? I think it is more indignation or rage that the Guatemalan state has not fulfilled in any way its obligations because it has been taken over by transnational powers.

This is an old story in Guatemala: both inside and outside power groups have forced us into shameful situations that would never have arisen without their influence: When I was teaching our history to high school students, I would tell them of the strong emergence of indigenous communities in the sixties and seventies, when they began to seek development and affirmation as members of this society; I would also introduce the armed conflict and the bloody deeds of civil defence patrols set up by the army. Inevitably, some one would ask the question: “But how could those cruel patrol members be the same people who just a few weeks before had been working in solidarity for the development of their communities?”

Yes indeed, they were the same people. But the counter-insurgency war created life-and- death situations in which, as one of the students remarked – “you either had to go against your own people, or die”.

And from that corruption comes shame, self-denial, guilt and repression of sensitivity to people. Then the ground is prepared for power politics and patronage and for the influence of perverse religious groups. And this is still the case in our Guatemala today.

This is why I say that it is indignation rather than shame that we are experiencing. Rubén Zamora said: “In other words, the basic US strategy to combat drug trafficking by containing and reducing the supply of drugs has been a failure. Drug usage has not declined, drug distribution has increased and diversified and “laundered” money has gone from 2% of the world economy in 1998, according to the IMF, to10% of the world GDP, according to recent estimations. The money has gone from being laundered in remote fiscal paradises to taking its place in New York and London.”

Let other people feel shame – we should be outraged.