Guatemalan rainy season. Photo: Reuters.
Favorite shows this season: Game of Thrones and House of Lies. Both about the brutality ensuing from different forms of abuse of power. Downton Abbey was pretty cool. All that ridiculous and fluffy but beautiful period drama!
Back from spending the last months back home in the US and living a few weeks in Mexico City, about which I will write presently. Right now, truly overwhelmed with work, as I am about to start teaching a course here in Guatemala City starting in less than 2 weeks. Procrastination is the name of my game, so I am quite behind lesson planning and all that jazz, and trying real hard to catch up after all that traveling.
Meanwhile, here I go again, trying to be a concientious and dedicated blogger. The hope and idea is to provide y'all with useful information..
Bocuse D'Or 2013 Competition. Photo: Business Insider
Foodie News: Guatemala was selected with Brazil and Mexico for the grand finale of the famous international competition Bocuse d'Or in Lyon this year. Guatemala's team won the top award for "Best Country Representation" and is now No. One "Bocuse d'Or Latin America" for 2013. I am not surprised at all, because Guatemala has excellent gastronomy at all levels.
On a darker note: Guatemala is among the top 20 most violent countries, with less than 7% of its homicides/violent crime ever solved. The Economist published an interesting article on January 24th which claims that slowly and tentatively, things are getting better. That article can be read by clicking here.
Personally I don't believe that crime is getting better, as crime rates have recently soared, the President's "hard fist against crime" campaign promises notwithstanding.
The really big news these days: The genocide trial that has riveted and polarized the nation, with people frothing at the mouth and going at each others' throats in the social networks and online news commentary pages. For an accurate rendition of what is going down, nothing like The New Yorker; for a summary of the trial-related issues, click here.
Mayan women attending the Guatemalan war crimes trial. Photo: Teinteresa.com.es
I got to say, most people siding with the accused military on public forum discussions don't seem to "get" that the trial is not about determining if there was a genocide or there wasn't one. That has long been established by the United Nations and other national and internation expert entities. Moreover, it was even discussed in the Peace Accords, under the assumption that there had been some genocidal actions. The trial is to determine if the accused were or not guilty of genocide, not if genocide occured. Look, at this point, denying the genocide is sort of like denying the Holocaust.
In order for people to understand this, they must be informed about the definition of genocide and the reports that have established its occurrence in Guatemala. But of course, most people shouting at each other about the trial and its related social issues tend to be uninformed to various degrees. They go by what they hear their favorite talking heads say, rather than read.
This affects both sides of the issue, those who defend the military and those who want to see them on trial. A recent poll showed that even public university students in Guatemala, who have been very vocal against the military, have scant understanding of the meaning of genocide. And so you all can imagine the tenor and level of argumentation going on in the public sphere with a few lone voices trying to make sense.
I must say, however, that the testimonies given during the trial by victims and survivors of wartime violence are truly harrowing. I just cannot imagine anybody making up those stories. You'd have to be really harsh and callous to dismiss them as "lies and manipulation" as many here do, at least in the ideological right wing segments of the population.
President Otto Pérez. Photo: C24 TV
Presidential drama: The president himself, Mr. Otto Pérez, was mentioned by a former military witness as being in charge of military in the region in question during the time when the killings were going on. At first he took the position of being neutral, stating publicly that the tribunals must be left to do their jobs. Yet on other occasions, he still reiterates that there has been no genocide in Guatemala. I guess he must be nervous as all hell with what is going down. I would be if I were in his shoes!
An interesting little sidenote: While General Rios Montt gets to enjoy sleeping in his own bed every night of the trial (he is under house arrest), his former subaltern also on trial is jailed. Or so I read. How's that for fairness?
Aaanyhow, it has been up to now, and I guess it will continue to be an interesting and groundbreaking trial.
Hard Rock Café, Guatemala City. Photo: Hard Rock Café Facebook.
What I did come home to find is that The Hard Rock Café has opened on the block next to ours and on weekends, despite soundproof glass in our apartment, we get to suffer the torture and indignities of very loud playing by extremely mediocre cover bands. The Hard Rock is the only of its chain in Central America and it is kind of ... quaint, to put kindly ... to see young people taking their pictures in front of its big, garish neon sign on the corner.
The segment of the Guatemalan public that can afford places like this is notoriously fickle (and relatively small, as well), so it will be interesting to see how long the fascination for the Hard Rock lasts, before they all move on to the next trendy thing. As for me, I haven't set foot in a Hard Rock Cafè since my kids grew up and nothing in my memories of the chain impel me to want to return.
Historic Center of Guatemala City.
Talking of going out and about, Transmetro announced its Historic Center route schedule: Monday through Friday, from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturdays from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, Sundays from 8:00 am till 7:00 pm. This is a scenic ride that is well worth the time to take. To learn more about the Transmetro bus (a pretty safe public transportation option), read the post I wrote on public transportation in the city by clicking here. It's worth a spin.
If you go, don't miss out on the awesome Mercado Central, the Central Market, right behind the Metropolitan Cathedral (and the Cathedral's pretty nifty museum).
Well, it is Friday 6:30 pm and the day has ended. I'm expecting my delivery order of Chinese take-out to arrive at any moment (fish tacos and spicy curry rice noodles if you must know). So that is it for now, till we meet again. I shall stay in situ for a while and am in the mood for writing. Thank you for visiting!