Power to the people

Apparently, Mexico’s drug cartels have expanded ops into this and the other countries that lie between it and South America. Makes sense. The drugs have gotta get through somehow.

So there’s allegations of under the table payments to political candidates, to protect said business interests. That results in unregulated political campaign spending (there’s supposedly a US$6 million cap that each party can spend on elections) And of course then, there’s the issue of vote-buying.

Today the people of Guatemala will vote for their new president. Well, an estimated 40% of them will. This only the 4th election since the civil war ended in 1996. A civil war that lasted more than 35 years, took an estimated 200,000 lives and left more than a million refugees.

It’s interesting watching another country go to the polls. Campaigning here is a lot more colorful and a helluva lot noisier than back home. There’s a lot of firecrackers. Protests. Campaigning rallies. Cars with loudspeakers affixed to the roofed. We’re currently in the midst of a 48 hour alcohol sales ban (It’s okay, folks. No need to be alarmed. I stocked up.)

One of the two main contenders is a retired army general. Who evidently had nothing to do with anything except of course the peace negotations. He looks a little too much like Malcolm Turnbull for my liking. And his logo is a closed fist. Where’s he gunna put that if he gets in, I wonder? Although apparently he is tipped as the favorite.

The other candidate is my preferred choice only because he looks a bit like Buddy Holly. At 41, he’s the youngest candidate and only just qualifies to run for office. His logo is a much happier thumbs up. Apparently, all the youngns like him. Problem is, he doesn’t necessarily look like he’s got what it takes to do what’s needed in just 4 years (no subsequent terms allowed.)

I don’t want to be too flippant about this. It’s important that whoever gets in is going to get stuck into rectifying this country’s two most prevalent problems: poverty and crime.

Evidently some 43% of children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished. And the murder rate last year was 40 per 100,000 people. One of the highest in the world. Those figures are staggering.

Guatemala is a ridiculously gorgeous country. And the people here seem, for the most part, happy. They’re very family orientated. It seems to me, to be a very united nation. What they need is a leader with balls to stand up to the leaders of criminal gangs, and the ability to make real headway in redressing poverty. Easier said than done, I suppose.

May the better man win.

(Oh, and as a postscript … that woman i mentioned in a previous post. The only female candidate. The one who got divorced so she could qualify to run. Two things: she is, well was, married to the current President. And a month ago, the Supreme Court upheld a sentence preventing her from continuing to run.)

11 Sept

My thoughts are also with those impacted by the tragic events in the US, a decade ago.

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