Jun 19, 2005

The Curse of 1998

A couple hours ago Tyler and I floated into San Pedro de Laguna. We had to cross a huge lake well into the mountains. We are well over a mile above sea level but took a twenty minute ride to cross the 300m deep Lake Atitlan (over 900ft!) ringed by huge volcanos that wear thick clouds like wispy undergarments. It is one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes I have ever seen and that includes the Grand Canyon, the Rocky mountains and countless Norwegian fjords. This place needs to be seen to be believed.

But, thanks to the curse of 1998, it will not be seen by you (yet). This computer is running Windows 98 which could not care less about me plugging in my flash card reader, so I cant upload any of the dozen pictures we have already taken.

That year, while Bill Gates was busy pushing his crappy Win98 software Guatemala had troubles of its own. After over thirty years of a harsh brutal military dictatorship (set into power by the CIA) a Bishop published a long awaited investigation into decades of military atrocities. Two days later he was bludgeoned to death in his garage by three military personnel and a priest, breaking the heart of a population who thought a long national nightmare was over. Since then things have started to shift, and some significant and profound changes occured. For example, the Bishops murders were caught and convicted, thus signaling an end to centuries of unrivaled military impunity.

The whole idea that this happened, at a time well within my recent memory, is bewildering to me. More so than most places I have been I have a sense that Guatemala is actually making its own history now. As important as I earnestly believe US politics are its easy to forget that a lot of our more critical values have long been decided and entrenched. As much as I complain about corporations controlling the US government, we have never had a coup inspired by a single foreign corporation (like they have here). And I take for granted that the government calls the shots over the military, not the other way around. Here, these ideals are being worked out now.

I am currently working my way through a textbook on Latin American history and have been fascinated, enraged and inspired by much of what I found. But even more exciting and interesting is the history thats being made right here and right now.

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