Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 407 | Junio 2015



An extraordinary situation: Thousands against corruption

Urban middle classes, peasants, indigenous people, public and private university students and professors, secondary school students and teachers, and entire families have taken to the streets and plazas all around the country, urged by the social networks and united by indignation and satiation at the rampant corruption they had long suspected and now know is true. Might extraordinary new leadership come out of this extraordinary situation?

Juan Hernández Pico, SJ

Max Weber, one of the founders of sociology, said that by virtue of magical powers, prophecies, heroism, luminous perception or capacity to attract, people with these unique characteristics, otherwise known as charisma, can create extraordinary situations and occupy a position of special leadership in them. Sociologist Paul Bourdieu transformed the order of the factors in Weber’s proposal, arguing that the extraordinary situations themselves are what attract and can even create people with charismatic leadership.
The analysis of what we’re seeing today in Guatemala seems to authorize considering it just such an extraordinary situation. It has even been compared to what in late 1944 provoked the overthrow of Guatemalan dictator Jorge Ubico (1930-1944) and his ephemeral successor Federico Ponce Vaides (June-October 1944). That situation ushered in 10 years (1944-1954) of the most authentic democracy the country
has ever known, creating or attracting the charismatic personalities of Juan José Arévalo (1945-50) and Coronel Jacobo Arbenz (1950-54), who many consider to have been Guatemala’s two greatest Presidents.

Due to my life and work in El Salvador for several years, it is only fair that I recognize my dependence in this text on a lot of information and analysis offered by Fernando Girón. I thank him for it.

They stole our taxes

The extraordinary part of today’s situation is the surge of protests by urban middle classes motivated by their indignation at the unmasked face of corruption in politics and no few sectors of the private economy. Veritable multitudes are feeling deep rage because it hit them in their pocketbooks. Their taxes were stolen and the result is less savings and consumption capacity. They’ve been made to see their political representatives for what they are.

On April 25, at the call of the social networks, some 30,000 people, from elderly women to mothers with babies and small children, gathered at 3 in the afternoon at the Plaza of the Constitution, flanked by the Cathedral and Archbishop’s Palace and by the National Palace of Culture, the old Palace of Government, called the Guacamolón for the avocado green color of its stone.
The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a United Nations dependency, had uncovered an enormous network of corruption in the State’s customs systems, one of the fiscal system’s main feed channels. It was headed up by an organization nicknamed “La línea” (The Line) and retired Captain Juan Carlos Monzón, Vice President Roxana Baldetti’s private secretary, was alleged to be the network’s boss.
The conspiracy was revealed on April 16, while Baldetti was in South Korea receiving an honorary doctorate, accompanied by Monzón. She later declared that she spoke with Monzón about the news and advised him to put himself at the disposal of justice. She didn’t do what she should have done: hold him in the Embassy of Guatemala, call Interpol and turn him over to the authorities.

Baldetti and Monzón returned to Guatemala in her personal plane. After landing Monzón not too surprisingly disappeared and was declared a fugitive of justice. Meanwhile, Carlos Muñoz and Omar Franco, respectively the current and former directors of the Superintendence of Tax Administration, plus some 20 other officials were jailed and accused of tax fraud. Also accused was Monzón’s friend Salvador Estuardo González, the president of Corporación de Noticias S.A, the newspaper Siglo XXI’s largest stockholder, and son of General Marco Antonio González Taracena, the old Army and Ministry of Defense intelligence director (1995-2006).

Business leaders
with goose bumps

No one doubted that the Vice President, whose holdings have increased way beyond her salary for the past three and a half years, had a hand in this chain of fraud calculated at some four billion quetzals (over US$532 million). The announcements
by the CICIG director, Colombian Iván Velásquez, upset the urban middle classes sufficiently to stir them to civic protest in the Plaza of the Constitution on April 25 with the slogan “Resign now!” They demanded not only Baldetti’s resignation but also that of President Otto Pérez Molina.

The demonstration, which ended with the singing of the national anthem, brought goose bumps to the upper business echelons, the traditionally oligarchic elites, since it seems that over a thousand businesses had helped themselves to La Línea’s offers to get their imports past customs in Guatemala’s two main ports, Puerto Quetzal in the Pacific and Santo Tomás de Castilla in the Caribbean, by paying bribes that totaled significantly less the corresponding duty would have cost. It had been known for some time in customs agency circles that the huge padlocked iron gates of the port parking lots would swing open at midnight and long queues of containers would be driven out without being checked.

Since the corruption also affected private enterprise, revelation of the names of these businesses could unleash a social cataclysm. In any event, perhaps few expected that the civic protest would have important consequences. At best they may have assumed the flare-up of indignation would peter out without fatal consequences for them.

The Price: Baldetti’s
head on a platter

Roxana Baldetti called a press conference on April 19 but could not cob together a coherent argument to buttress her insistence that she wasn’t implicated in the corruption. It appears that inside the government an agreement was reached that her head would have to be the price paid to calm the turbulent waters of people’s indignation.

The Supreme Court of Justice unanimously decreed there was sufficient cause to lift the Vice President’s immunity, and communicated that decision to the Congress so it could create an investigative commission. The five-member legislative commission was made up mainly of members of the Renewed Democratic Liberty (LIDER) party, which has put up Manuel Baldizón, loser of the 2011 presidential election, as its candidate for the elections in September of this year. The composition of the commission was an important signal: it meant the rupture of LIDER’s alliance with President Pérez Molina’s Patriot Party (PP).

A coup d’état?

That being the state of things, “footsteps of a big animal,” as Guatemalans say, were heard on April 29 and 30. Both active and retired ultra-right military officers and big business leaders were preparing a coup d’état. It’s public knowledge that the officers went to the US Embassy to re test the response to their intentions- They were met with a warning by the military attaché that enough US Marines were stationed at the Palmerola base in Honduras and other even nearer locations to counteract any coup plans. The rumor of a coup was heard no more.

The protests go on:
Resign now!

A sizable contingent of people of an extraction similar to those who had mobilized on April 25 joined the traditional parade of unions on May 1, International Workers’ Day. Their contingent alone was calculated at some 10,000 people.

While the unions chanted their traditional slogans (“The people united will never be defeated!”), the middle class contingent kept up its “Resign now,” aimed above all at the Vice President but also at the President. Yet another mobilization by them the very next day managed to bring out 5,000 people.
Roxana Baldetti finally resigned on May 8. President Pérez Molina voice broke as he made the announcement. It’s vox populi that there has been significantly more than mere collaboration or friendship between the two. It seems the President was caught in a vice by the pressures not only from CACIF, the umbrella organization of private enterprise, but also from the US Embassy and the angry population, leaving him no alternative.

The news of her resignation produced another spontaneous demonstration in the same plaza to celebrate it that brought out 3,000 people. Baldetti was prevented from leaving the country and her bank accounts were embargoed, although some days later, so that only some 6 million quetzals ($786,000) were found in them. Her eldest son left the country for Mexico City and Monterrey at the end of May on an Italian passport—which Baldetti also has.

Background of the
new Vice President

Another spontaneous demonstration took place on May 9, again organized from the social networks of the middle classes rather than by any political or other organization. That time it brought out 5,000 people, who pressed around the Congress building to demand that a person worthy of the post be elected to replace Baldetti.

As determined by the Constitution, the President sent Congress a list of three candidates. They were Carlos Contreras, his labor minister; Adela Chacón de Torrebiarte, former government minister under President Óscar Berger and today Pérez Molina’s delegate for Police Reform; and Adrián Zapata, executive secretary of the Rural Development Cabinet.

Although it’s hard to believe, the list had to be modified twice, the first time because Contreras had a constitutional impediment. The President replaced him with Oliverio García Rodas, a congressional representative, but he was also discarded due to alleged involvement with organized crime. Finally, Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre, a 79-year-old Constitutional Court justice, was proposed, and he was elected by Congress with 115 votes.

Maldonado Aguirre seems to have been the choice negotiated by CACIF with Pérez Molina. He had come to Guatemala at age 18 in 1954 as a member of the anti-Communist Liberation Army commanded by Coronel Castillo Armas, which toppled President Arbenz with US Embassy help. He also belonged to the National Liberation Movement (MLN), an extreme rightwing political party founded by the United States, which some believe was the Liberation Army’s political arm. It’s worth recalling that Guatemala’s late Vice President Mario Sandoval Alarcón (1974-78), one of the MLN’s founding members together with Castillo Armas, called it “the party of organized violence.”

Upon accepting the vice presidency, Justice Maldonado Aguirre declared to the press that he has no plans to change his ideology at his age. Two years ago he voted to annul the 80-year prison sentence of retired General Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity. He also voted to deny the suit filed by human rights activist Helen Mack against the corrupt way the commissions act in receiving candidates for the Supreme Court of Justice and other posts chosen by the President and the Congress.

The lid comes off even more things…

When Judge Marta Sierra de Stalling ruled house arrest for several of those implicated in the Línea corruption network who had already been jailed by CICIG Director Velásquez, he charged that her decision was a result of bribery by the self-styled “Impunity Law Firm.” With that the Supreme Court unanimously decided on a preliminary trial against her while those benefited with the house arrest ruling were sent back to prison.

That was where things stood when Luis Mendizábal was declared a fugitive. His boutique called “Emilio” in Guatemala City’s affluent “Zona Viva” has long been a nest of political conspiracies and money laundering operations. His past is also riddled with cooperation with various Army intelligence structures. Together with journalist Mario David García, Mendizába had a major role in the filming and distributing of the 2009 video of Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano, a Guatemalan attorney, accusing Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom, his wife Sandra Torres and another person as directly responsible should he be killed. (His subsequent murder thus caused a national uproar, although a CICIG investigation concluded with the provisional hypotheses that Rosenberg had arranged his own death by a hitman.)

This same García, also responsible for various coup attempts during President Vinicio Cerezo’s term at the end of the 1980s, has just been designated the presidential candidate of Pérez Molina’s party after its first choice, Alejandro Sinibaldi, resigned once the lid was off the customs fraud.

The university students’ turn

On May 16, a multitude calculated at some 65,000 people not only filled the Plaza of the Constitution but also spilled over into surrounding areas. The new element this time was the presence of thousands of university students as well as some peasants and indigenous people.

More than 3,000 of the 10,000 students of the Jesuits’ Rafael Landívar University (URL) congregated at 1 pm in front of the Supreme Court of Justice following assemblies held in several universities of the capital. Hundreds of students from the prestigious and exclusive University del Valle also joined the demonstration. Some 20,000 students from the public National University of San Carlos (USAC) also came down the Avenida Bolívar from the famous cloverleaf. In addition to their university pennants, all also waved the Guatemalan flat. Even though it began to rain buckets, nobody left.

When the students from the public university met up with those from the two private ones, the shock was so great that for a moment they seemed paralyzed. No one had ever seen anything like this before. One URL student ducked out from under the flag and ran to those from USAC and began hugging some of them. With that, what had become some 23,000 university students began walking toward the Plaza of the Constitution.

Also indigenous authorities

The new chants on May 16 were “Resign now, Otto Pérez Molina!” and “Resign now, Vice President Maldonado Aguirre!” Yet another was “Otto Pérez ladrón [thief], we want you in Pavón!” [Pavón is one of Guatemala’s two main prisons.] And the following was seen on the placards: “Otto Pérez, the people fire you!”
The ancestral indigenous authorities of Chichicastenango and other western municipalities were also seen in this demonstration, among them Mateo Caleb, of the Mash lineage of Chichicastenango. Their presence, plus that of peasants from the interior of the country, showed that
the protest was no longer only urban and middle class. There were also concurrent protests in the central parks of the main western and southern municipalities of the country: Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Suchitepéquez Chimaltenango, San Marcos..., and even in several other countries.

More corruption revealed

Four days later the CICIG revealed yet another of the incredible acts of corruption, this time in the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS). It had to do with a huge contract, approved and signed by the IGSS board of directors with Droguería Pisa, a drug company that had also subcontracted two other disreputable pharmaceutical companies. The contracts were to supply hemodialysis instruments to be used by the IGSS hospitals for patients with renal insufficiency. CICIG and the Attorney General’s Office had already certified some 20 deaths caused by the use of this deficient instrument.

Seventeen IGSS board members were indicted, arrested, turned over to the corresponding judge and sentenced to prison. Among them was the IGSS director, retired military officer Juan de Dios de la Cruz Rodríguez, Pérez Molina’s old secretary, who at the time the CICIG announced this fraud was interned in the “Maranatha” clinical center. Dubbed “Beelzebub” in the Sunday supplement of El Periódico,” he cynically declared to the media that he wouldn’t be surprised if all the patients with renal insufficiency didn’t die sooner rather than later.

Other board members captured included Bank of Guatemala President Julio Suárez; Max Quirín, representative of the National Agro Union (UNAGRO) and an important businessman in Alta Verapaz implicated in the repression of indigenous people in the Río Polochic valley; and Fernando Molina Stalling, a son of Supreme Court Justice Blanca Stalling, director of the Court’s penal section. Justice Stalling decided to ask the Court for a month’s absence without pay, which was granted on May 26. But that same day around 11 judges, some active and others retired, publicly demanded her resignation.

More resignations

On May 21, the minister of government, retired Lieutenant Colonel Mauricio López Bonilla, was the next to resign. It has
been said of him since the start of this government that he was Pérez Molina’s right hand man, but he insisted that the President had dismissed him. Pérez Molina named Eunice Mendizábal, deputy minister against Drug Trafficking, to replace López Bonilla as minister of government. She is responsible for having unleashed repression by anti-riot police against the population opposing the entry of machinery in La Puya gold mine a few months ago.
Under López Bonilla’s administration the ministry multiplied its deputy ministers. It was revealed that they had negotiated closed contracts for hugely exaggerated amounts, such as for example one for US$120 million to buy instruments to capture fingerprints and photograph passengers in the airport. Similar apparatuses for the Honduran airports of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula cost US$10 million. Somewhat in the manner of Blatter in FIFA, López Bonilla declared that he couldn’t stay on top of everything being done by so many deputy ministries…

Energy and Mines Minister Erick Archila also resigned. His successor, Edwin Rodas, only lasted a couple of weeks then was replaced by José Miguel de la Vega Izeppi. Environmental Minister Michelle Martínez Kelly, who is close to Baldetti and a director of the Patriot Party, was fired. Both she and Archila were under the gun due to the intense conflict between the communities and the State over the mining and hydroelectric projects.

All these changes are part of Pérez Molina’s tactics: offer other officials’ heads to keep himself in the presidency. It’s very doubtful that he’ll achieve his objective, however. In fact a sassy riddle making the rounds goes like this: How is Otto Pérez Molina like a zompopo [an oversized ant that appears with the rains]? Answer: No one knows if it’ll be out in May or in June.”

Indigenous and peasant demonstration

On May 20, thousands of peasants and indigenous people from the interior of the country also gathered in the capital to ask for the resignation of Pérez Molina and the new Vice President, Maldonado Aguirre.

These people haven’t forgotten Maldonado Aguirre’s participation in the MLN, which formed so many death squads and repealed the only agrarian reform law (1952) the country has ever had. They are now asking for approval of the Integral Rural Development Law—required by the 1996 Peace Accords—and the nationalization of electricity, privatized during the Alvaro Arzú government.

A couple of crucial reforms
to the electoral and parties laws

On May 28, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) delivered to Congress its proposal for a series of reforms to the Electoral Law and Political Parties Law. One crucial reform is the requirement of absolute transparency in political party financing, as public opinion is convinced that the parties and their candidates have for some time been financed by drug money and money linked to bribes to favor extra-governmental interests and influence peddling. The CICIG has asked the TSE to issue a report on party financing. In fact, if the TSE indeed confirms that some of the parties in competition have exceeded financing limits, it would have the authority to cancel their legal standing and pull them out of the race.

Another extremely important reform is to grant electoral validity to the null vote and perhaps also to blank ballots and to abstention, which would mean that an election would be annulled if such ballots were in the majority. A growing opinion in Guatemala is that the time has come for a massive null vote to thus impede access to government by the current candidates, above all those with the greatest probability of ending in first or second place: Manuel Baldizón (LIDER) and Sandra Torres (UNE).

What confidence can a candidate like Baldizón, who obtained his law doctorate with a plagiarized dissertation, offer the public should he become President?

In fact, many of the placards in the May 16 demonstration read “Baldizón, it’s not your turn!” The reference is to LIDER slogans found on banners and billboards all over the country with the slogan: “It’s his turn. It’s your turn, Guatemala,” referring to the fact that the runner-up candidate in
every election since 1995 has won the succeeding election. It may be that a majority of Guatemalans are now aware that any of the current candidates would assure four more years of corruption.
The TSE is also proposing a limit on candidacies for legislators and mayors to two non-consecutive periods.

When would the
reforms go into effect?

One of the demands of the citizens in the May demonstrations was that the electoral law be reformed in such a way that the reforms will go into effect in the elections this September. The current law contains an article that established that any reforms made in one electoral period won’t go into effect until the next one.

Constitutional Law experts said the legislators could eliminate that article as
a reform to the Electoral Law—which has constitutional rank—or else attach a juridical postscript suspending its validity for this time. Either way would allow any reforms made to go into effect as soon as they are published in the Diario Oficial.

“Legislative ineptitude and malice”

In the end, however, the legislation is still pending final revisions and approval so the 2015 elections will be administered without the benefit of these reforms to improve transparency and integrity.

In a June 4 communiqué, Guatemala’s bishops said the following: “The electoral process is important, but it is also evident that the incapacity of the Congress of the Republic to change the Electoral and Political Parties Laws due to ineptitude and malice means that the citizens are facing elections in which there is much of the same as before and in many regards even worse.
What we have seen and heard up to now are more bright colors, more messages with no substance and more makeup for electoral marketing.”

New demonstration on May 30

Another massive demonstration was held on May 30 that was as large as the one two weeks earlier.
All of the three Saturday demonstrations (April 25, May 16, May 30) began very early in the morning with religious groups gathering in the Plaza of the Constitution to pray for the victory of the popular will and for peace in the demonstrations, an attitude contrasting with the measures taken by the Ministry of Government, which installed cameras all around the plaza to film the activity for purposes that are evidently not innocent.

The plaza began to fill around 3 pm on May 30, again with a sizable contingent of university students and also with secondary students and teachers. Students and teachers from the Fe y Alegría schools were also among the participants.

The new element this time was the presence of artistic groups, who performed until night fell then accompanied the groups that led the massive demonstration to the Supreme Court.

“The Brotherhood”
and “The Syndicate”

What’s happening in Guatemala is that an important part of the population is utterly fed up with the government structures, largely run by retired military officers, old members of the Army’s Intelligence Department (D2), which created two operational organizations in the late 1970s called “La Cofradía” and “El Sindicato” (The Brotherhood and the Syndicate).

The first was organized by General Manuel Antonio Callejas and former President Carlos Arana Osorio’s son-in-law, General Francisco Ortega Menaldo. The second was organized later by current President Pérez Molina, among others.

The leaders of the Brotherhood put together an operation in the Ministry of Finance to control the trafficking of arms and money supposedly sent clandestinely to the guerrilla movement at that time. Even after the war ended, they kept that structure for prohibited contraband and trafficking operations on their own behalf, which seems to have been the strategy of the two D2 structures.

It’s often rumored that there’s yet a third structure, headed by General Marco
Tulio Espinosa, defense minister during the government of Álvaro Arzú, to try to supplant both organizations. It was during Tulio’s term as defense minister that Bishop Juan Gerardi was assassinated, right after presenting the Report “Guatemala Never Again,” the first two volumes of which reveal the atrocities of the government military in the war and the third analyzes the history of the two military intelligence structures and their activities.

The threat from the
Queen of the South

Enormous threats hang over a number of the protagonists of this extraordinary point of satiation with such rampant corruption. Over 30 years after approval of the current Constitution made way for eight presidential governments, many of them tainted by this same corruption, the disgust has finally surpassed the fear and blown up into massive protest.

In February, 43-year-old Queen of the South Marllory Dadiana Chacón Rosell was tried in Miami. Leaving aside her agitated life, we’ll only mention that her multiple relations with organized crime, especially drug trafficking, have earned her spectacular income. She lived for several years in a luxurious mansion in San José Pinula.

In the sights of US investigations for years, she turned herself into the DEA in Miami in 2014, before being captured, on the agreement that she would be a State’s witness against other individuals. She has been sentenced to prison for an undisclosed duration. Today a number of individuals and organized crime networks in Guatemala and their accomplices tremble when they think about her declarations to the court.

Many people also think that if Carlos Monzón, Baldetti’s secretary, isn’t captured soon, it will probably be because he’s no longer alive. Because he knows so much and could discover even more about how far beyond the government the corruption extends, there will be no lack of attempts both inside the government and out to silence this other great threat forever.

Corruption is a global plague

The extraordinary situation Guatemala is currently going through is only one of many that are happening around the world. For the hundreds of millions of soccer fans, the corruption in the FIFA may perhaps seem even more important. In Latin America, without even mentioning Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico, the corruption scandal surrounding PETROBRAS, Brazil’s gigantic state-private oil company, may be even larger; in the first quarter of this year it led President Dilma Roussef to the brink of massive rejection barely three months after being reelected. Several members of her Workers’ Party are accused in that corruption.

Equally shocking have been the acts of corruption attributed to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s daughter-in-law, forcing her son to resign his post as government adviser. Bachelet herself, who ended her first term with over 70% approval ratings and won the elections for a second term with a huge majority, now only pulls some 26% in popular approval.

Corruption cases have also multiplied in Spain during the government of Mariano Rajoy, of the People’s Party, losing it the majority in May’s autonomous and municipal elections. Corruption also undermined the successive governments of Berlusconi in Italy. And in the People’s Republic of China corruption cases are continually coming to light that have destroyed the career and at times the life of top Community Party leaders.
Back in Central America corruption is also rampant in Honduran and in Nicaragua surrounds the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, whose children occupy noticeably profitable posts in the State.

Corrupt savage capitalism

Neoliberal capitalism has been pushing out the Keynesian capitalism of the Welfare State ever since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher took office in England, and 1981, when Ronald Reagan did so in the United States. Western neoliberal capitalism gathered steam with the end of the Soviet bloc in 1991, slowly but surely becoming salvage capitalism.

The Great Recession of 2008 clearly revealed the capacity for corruption of
the giants of globalized financial capital. And organized crime companies stand out within that globalization of capitalist savagery, especially those that traffic drugs, weapons, human beings and other merchandise. Roberto Saviano has offered abundant testimony from his investigations into this savagery in his books, Gomorra and Zero Zero Zero.

It is in this context that Guatemala’s extraordinary situation must be placed given the evidence of the use of diverse public powers and their alliances with private enterprise to acquire immense fortunes through corrupt means.
The extraordinary part is that the outpouring of citizens’ indignation is an attempt to dyke the overflowing waters of political-economic corruption. Even distinguished members of neoliberal savage capitalism such as Dionisio Gutiérrez, with his petition that the President resign, or Jorge Briz, CACIF’s president, with the same demand, are trying to hitch their star to this wave of indignation.

It’s a civic indignation
with various protagonists

There’s no question but that the main protagonists of this extraordinary situation are, first and foremost, the citizenry that spontaneously mobilized out of civic indignation. Nonetheless, the US Embassy, with its new and unaccustomed ambassador Todd Robinson, has also done crucial behind-the-scenes work, albeit only to keep Guatemala as the most secure and last southern front of the colossus to the north.
The investigative findings of CICIG have had a huge influence on unleashing
the indignation, while representatives of private Guatemalan capital have taken a leadership role to protect their interests. So have the electoral candidates with their typical “leopard strategy” to be sure that a few spots change so everything will remain the same.

The Episcopal Conference published a pastoral message on May 7 demanding that all stolen goods be returned to the national treasury. “They must return what they have taken from the poor,” said the message, “to be used for the social good.” The Vatican nuncio has reinforced this demand and the National Council of Jesuits of Guatemala published a communique in which it stated that “we cannot and must not move into the electoral period without anything having changed.” The Jesuit’s Rafael Landívar University made a public statement in the same vein.

The time for extraordinary people

But in the end the most important thing is that the population, those sectors of civil society who are demonstrating without quarter, creating this extraordinary situation in Guatemala, are still indignant and still acting on it.

Their militancy will help the businesspeople reflect on the best way to invest in the marginalized barrios, in schools, hospitals and low-income housing and to collaborate in other ways of dealing with so much poverty. It’s also important that the youngest members of private enterprise see the social change they’re expecting as an investment that will pay off in a better country for everyone.

This spontaneous militancy has been, is and will be possible because there isn’t such a strong memory in the younger generations of the brutal years of repression. That’s what is enabling them to take to the streets and keep protesting until authentic, fully human solutions are found, in turn helping others who still have a vivid memory of that repression, particularly peasants and indigenous people, to overcome their fear and join in the protests.
That persistent and untiring militancy could oblige judges and parliamentarians to change their positions and lead Guatemala to a socio-political solution that can impede the continuation of corruption in politics and prevent an electoral round under the mafioso banner of corruption.
It is this extraordinary situation that gives us hope that extraordinary people, leaders of a new type, will emerge.

Juan Hernández Pico, sj, is the envío correspondent in Guatemala.

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