Sunday, November 10, 2013


Casa Enriqueta. Historic Center, Guatemala City. 
(Located at 7th Street between 10th and 11th avenues. Parking in the back, on 8 calle)

Weather these days: Alternately sunny and cloudy, very scattered rains. Breezy. In the 70s. T-shirt and light jacket kind of climate.

The news around here these days is that General Ríos Montt's retrial for genocide has been postponed till 2015---I assume they are hoping that the 88-year-old geezer dies before that so that they don't have to deal with doing the right thing for Mayan communities and the survivors.  

Also, that Roberto Barreda, a guy accused of murdering his wife---the circumstantial evidence is heavily slanted against him--was found in Yucatan, Mexico. He had managed to get fake papers and escape, kidnapping  his two little kids while the investigation was going on. His mother (A former head of the Supreme Court!!!) and hist best friends have served jail time for aiding and abetting.  Indeed, the maid gave testimony that the mother of the alleged murderer (remember, she is a judge!), helped him wipe up the blood and dispose of the body.

The telenovela continues. People won't talk about anything else, and the media and social networks are abuzz with it, day after day. With how corrupt the legal system can be here, would not be surprised if the guy just walks.

Roberto Barreda. Photo: Prensa Libre


Of course I was feeling righteous about it all ("They cannot let him walk! This would never happen in the US!"). Then again, I just read that the US government--in this case, the CIA--refused to turn in the Nazi Klaus Barbie to the Government of France who wanted to put him on trial. Barbie headed a concentration camp in France and was guilty of thousands of deaths. The US government even aided him to escape to South America, where he lived out the rest of his life peacefully.  The US government has known how to be corrupt and unjust too.  

 Photo exhibit, Casa Enriqueta

This afternoon we went to a photo exhibit downtown, part of the 16th Historic Center Festival, at Casa Enriqueta, a historic house turned café and cultural center. Everything downtown nowadays--any hole in the wall!--is a "cultural center". Go figure.   But this one is worth the moniker.

Detail, Casa Enriqueta. Colonial Baroque Mirror.

An antique artifacts bazaar was going on with lots of very neat stuff, pennies on the dollar for what they'd cost in the US.  Of course, some of the antiques are "iffy."  Sorry but banged up copper kitchen containers from a decade ago don't count as "antiques"!

Either way, as with all bazaars, it is all about the hunt, really.  And Casa Enriqueta is really cool. The food looked good.  Check it out if ever you are in downtown Guatemala City. It has wide parking space with security. 

Painting, "Querida Familia" exhibit, Alianza Francesa (French Alliance)
I had to go give a talk at an event at the Alianza Francesa--an international institution belonging to the French Government, in charge of all things French culture abroad.  They had an exhibit titled "Querida Familia" (Dear Family) which consisted on interesting takes on the meaning of "family" by a collective of local artists, some of whom are friends of ours.  

One was the painting above, titled something like "Guatemalan Export" or "Made in Guatemala" and which clearly alludes to the older, white foreigners coming to the country in droves to adopt Guatemalan children (usually Mayan). Pretty interesting.

Painting, "Querida Familia" exhibit, Alianza Francesa (French Alliance)
I found the whimsical/disturbing painting above an intriguing mix of Murakami---the painter, not the novelist--and a postmodern take on Bruegel. Okay, I sense I am getting way too nerdy here, so I will quit the amateurish theorizing.  An art historian I'm not.

Painting, "Querida Familia" exhibit, Alianza Francesa (French Alliance)
Damn, I wish I had better memory and could recall the name of the artists!

I really liked the drawing above:  A panhandler with her child.  Or with the child she rented in order to panhandle more successfully.  Sadly, that is a very common phenomenon here.  I think the scene--a camera with her picture turned towards us, the spectators--is full of interesting meaning.  I will let you figure it out on your own, as that is a crucial part of the fun when looking at art. 

The drawing is pretty good, don't you think?

Art, young artists exhibit, CCE (Cultural Center of Spain)

The very realistic image above is from another exhibit from some months ago at the CCE (Cultural Center of Spain), a very happening place right on the main (pedestrian) street downtown.  They are big on promoting local music, theater, screening of local and foreign cinema, and much more.  I love their library and reading room. It is the only library in the City--perhaps even the whole country--where you can borrow books and take them home.  It is open to the public from 10 am till 4 pm.

Reading Room, Cultural Center of Spain, Downtown Guatemala City

I just went to see an excellent monologue drama piece with some friends at the CCE's theater. It is housed in an old cinema from the Art Deco era.  They recovered and refurbished all the seats from the 1950s. Indeed, most of the interior design comes from recovered architectural stuff and they made a great job of it.

Back to the drama piece, titled Soledad Brother, was so good and moving, that some people there were telling me that it was their second and third time going.  Completely based on a poem by writer Javier Payeras, it was so full of anguish some people were crying and others gripping their seats.  Really powerful, well written and excellently performed.

Monologue theater drama, CCE (Centro Cultural de España)

There are a bunch of cafe's all around the CCE, so you can walk to any kind of exhibit and event at the CCE and then go have a coffee with friends. Or by yourself. The people-watching is fantastic. Very safe and convenient parking just around the corner on 5 avenida and corner with 11 calle.  You can't miss it.

So, that's it for now. If you want to learn about other interesting spaces in Guate City, check out this blog post by Guatemala Daily Photo, full of very useful information about shared work spaces right smack in the middle of the city, very convenient and comfortable.  I can't wait to go check them out myself.  To read and see, click here.

Early morning view (all shops still closed) of the main downtown avenue, La Sexta (6th avenue), a pedestrian space, from the windows of the CCE.


  1. Love the post, Trudy. Just a little correction: Barreda didn't really "kidnap" his kids, since they're...well, his own kids and being the father he's their actual legal tutor.

    Also, the first painting of QUERIDA FAMILIA you posted is by artist Marilyn Boror, the middle one by Juan Pablo Canale and the last one by Mario Profundo.

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  3. Aveces quisiera poder ir solo un par de dias a Guate cuando todo lo bueno esta pasando..aunque con las noticias del comienzo no dan tantas ganas...igual, realmente se esta volviendo una ciudad cultural...y eso si que alegre!

  4. Trudy: A fabulous posting, as always. Your blog wastes no time in describing the distilled essence of what's good about Guatemala, and especially zone one.

  5. Wow, thank you everybody for the contributions and comments! Juan, the information is very valuable and I appreciate it. Bara, vuelve pronto! And Jean-Marie, thanks! Zona 1 is definitely a very happening place in respect to the arts in the city. I love it.