Guatemala has been a wonderful and insightful stop in my trip so far. I have been here for over a month and I think I could stay much longer. Spanish is coming along ok, but there are so many gringos here that is hard to feel fully immersed and to practice all that much. This has its own advantage however, there are many well educated Guatemalans with whom I have been able to chat with and learn about their country. Guatemaltecos are very active within their political system. A few months ago the people were protesting the rampant corruption within their government. This led to a UN (or some similar agency) investigation of where all the foreign aid money was going. It turns out that it was mostly padding politicians pockets. Most politicians here are making in excess of $100,000 (yes USD) a year. What is worse is that they have also created fake names for “people” who also receive a salary. As they are imaginary people, the crafty politician would then take their salary as well and I have heard of some politicians collecting several salaries all at once. All of this news recently was leaked and the people went crazy. They gathered in their respective town squares to demand transparency and this is what led to the investigation. Many politicians ended up going to jail, including the PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT.
They are both still in jail and when I arrived in Guatemala the vice Vice President had a few more weeks to finish out his newly taken post. In the elections down here there are about 15 different parties and according to my understanding the party holding the presidency changes quite often. In the most recent election the people chose a new comer to politics in general. He is a comic and his most recent resume item is a payaso, or in other words a clown. The locals I talked to said they chose him because they were fed up with the usual sleezy options. After going down the list of the 15 different parties Jimmy Morales was the only one with out any corrupt dealings in his past. The Guatemalan people opted to give him a try despite his lack of political experience, it was actually his lack of experience that made him win. People here are ready for change and I hope presidente Jimmy can help bring it about. Guatemala has a lot of potential, a thriving young capitalistic society in need of only a little accountability and stability within its government. The people here are hardworking and clever, they only need better opportunities which can easily be provided if the greedy politicians will actually use the money given to them from developed nations (yes your tax dollars mr. Republican) to help the people.
As a mere traveler meandering through their country, I can’t claim to begin to capture any depth into their beliefs and desires, but it seems that great change is coming to Guatemala. The people here pay attention to what is going on and are holding their government accountable. They believe change can happen and are working toward it. Their is a slight cynicism in regards to corruption but they have not given up on their country. I hope there will be a similar shared sentiment in the States this year during the election. Do your research, pay attention and most simply CARE. I have also come across a lot of ex-pats down here who have left the States but brought their sour attitudes with them. Endless complaining doesn’t help anything, it isn’t too late for America to experience real change as well. Just get involved like they have done down here. And while the republicans have zero chance of winning the next presidency… PLEASE for the love of God, do not elect that payaso Trump as our republican candidate and make us the laughing stock of the rest of the world. 👍😘