I have a godson who is about nine years old. A couple years ago, unbeknownst to me, his mother, my comadre, managed to move out of the gang-controlled neighborhood where she grew up and rent a house in a cooler ‘hood. She was telling me of this a few weeks ago, and she said that she is scared of ever having to return to the old ‘hood because, when she sends her son to spend time with his cousins, aunts, and other family members in the old ‘hood, when he comes back home she can see the changes in his behavior and attitude.
If you are a male child growing up in certain areas of the Southside, it is almost impossible not to be sucked into the gang life. Not only is there pressure from all of your friends and family members, the gang life has drama and excitement in it, and drama and excitement appeal to young boys.
Let’s put this another way. Different neighborhoods are at war with other ‘hoods, and the young boys and young men are the warriors/heroes of each ‘hood. This is the reality of life in certain areas. Unless you are a real “wussy,” you are recruited or you join at an early age, an age the rest of society considers childhood.
In Guatemala, there was a bloody civil war which lasted from 1960 to 1996. The Guatemalans who paid most of the human price for the civil war were the indigenous rural populations. Their young men were forced into the Guatemalan army or they became left-wing guerrillas. The army and the guerrillas were at war with each other. It wasn’t as if these young men had a choice. The neo-European elite who are the super rich of Guatemala do not have their sons dragged into the military to fight against the poor. They force the poor to fight against the poor. Life was hell amongst the indigenous people, because they were being tortured and killed by both sides in the civil war, but mostly by the army.
The mainstream American news media have not been paying a lot of attention to the Rios Montt genocide trial in Guatemala City. For all the civil war years, the Guatemalan army was being trained and armed by the Americans, the Israelis, the Taiwanese, and the Argentineans. Guatemala is America’s closest and most important ally in Central America. The mainstream media in the United States do not want the American people to find out about the atrocities their government was ignoring during the Guatemalan civil war.
In America, however, there is a free media system, and if you want to know the truth of any subject, the truth is out there on the Internet. The Rios Montt trial came to an abrupt end on Thursday last. The judge said she wanted to continue, but she was ordered to stop the trial by the Supreme Court. American roots media are reporting that the order actually came from President Otto Pérez Molina, who was named during the trial by a witness as a major participant in the atrocities. Pérez Molina was a Guatemalan army general who was a field major during the 1982/83 Rios Montt rule.
In Guatemala, for a couple of decades there had been a series of civilian presidents until Pérez Molina’s election in 2011 essentially marked a disguised return of the military to hands-on power. Now the military has intervened in the judiciary, and Guatemala will return to its past – a violent and tragic past.
In this region, there used to be very brutal military dictators – Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Nicaragua, and all the various Guatemalan generals who became presidents from the time of Carlos Castillo Armas in 1954. These military dictators waved the flag of anti-communism, and for this they were praised by Washington and blessed by the Church. This is a historical fact.
Guatemala is a country with a very serious internal problem. That problem involves inequality and injustice, and that inequality/injustice is based on European superiority versus indigenous inferiority. No one can deny this.
Historically, Guatemala in the late 1930s began a claim to Belize when Guatemala was ruled by Jorge Ubico, a military dictator. In 1859, when Guatemala was ruled by Rafael Carrera, Guatemala had signed a border treaty with Great Britain which marked the boundaries between Guatemala and British Honduras. Those boundaries were confirmed by a diplomatic note signed by Guatemala and Great Britain in 1931. But in the 1940s, Guatemala changed her constitution to include Belize as Guatemala’s 23rd Department. Today, Guatemala is claiming half of Belize’s territory as her own, although Belize became an independent nation/state in September of 1981.
Guatemala’s ruling class has established that they are hostile to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national aspirations of the country known to the United Nations as Belize. Is this being taught to Belize’s children in our schools, in like manner as Guatemalan children are being taught in THEIR schools that Belize belongs to them? I will go further. Do you have a better idea now why the owners of Belize’s schools have resisted the teaching of African and indigenous history in Belize’s schools? Somewhere in this nation-state of Belize, there is a European presence which controls the curriculum in Belizean schools. In Guatemala, that European presence is an openly military one. In Belize, the European presence is a religious one.
It comes to the same thing, as we would say in the streets. Guatemala intends the same fate for us black and indigenous majority Belizeans as she has inflicted on her indigenous majority Guatemalans – subjection, oppression, and misery. The people of Belize have not been properly educated about this issue. Where should the blame be placed? Before our people can be mobilized, our people must be educated. Who is it that controls what is taught to the children of Belize? When you find that out, then you can assign the blame for Belizean confusion. That is my thesis.
Power to the people.