jueves, julio 28, 2005

The news that's not in the news

This morning, I read an article in a local Spanish-language newspaper which focuses on Latin America that the Guatemalan attorney-general is calling for the extradition from Mexico of the country's ex-criminal, er, president, to prosecute him for stealing $16 million during his tenure. You won't read that anywhere else, folks, unless you go straight to the Guatemalan newspapers. Justice being done in Latin America after years of war and violence is just not news in this country. Probably because it seems, as I said in my post "The United States has Another Bowel Movement", any move in the right direction is deemed to "destablize the region".

I was thinking last night about the state that Guatemala has been in since president Arbenz was overthrown in 1954 by the CIA. I'll concede that the U.S. can't be blamed for all Guatemala's ills. I think Spain could stand to take a little of the blame for it's part in making sure Guatemala got off on the wrong foot. Some Guatemalans themselves can take some blame too, for while many stand up for justice and truth in the face of death, many are defeatist and have just settled for things as they are, or join in the violence, or worse, are so pro-Yanqui that they unknowingly contribute to the prostitution and ruin of their patria. But the U. S. can certainly be blamed for undoing all the good that was being done in the country back then, and instead of supporting it, reverting Guatemala right back to violence and corruption, while directly or indirectly telling Guatemala's leaders that it's OK to massacre hundreds of thousands of people by sending huge amounts of aid to the country's leaders.

I saw a slogan sprayed onto a wall near my grandma's house during my recent trip, and I think I also saw it on a billboard on Roosevelt. : "La patria no se vende, se defiende." Our nation should be defended, not sold. I could say that about this country, too, since parts of the national debt, and therefore American assets, have already been sold off to China and Japan.

By the way, a really great book on Guatemalan political history is "Unfinished Conquest" by Victor Perera. A lot of political history and science books are too textbooky, but this one is wonderful because Perera also writes fiction and is a journalist. I'm on my second read.

martes, julio 26, 2005

What happened to the Brits?

When I went to London in March, I was glad to be in a city that, even though it has fallen victim to bombings before (the IRA in the seventies, for example) and despite their involvement in the war, is relatively cool (not reactionary) about terrorism as they are with most everything, have not made any changes to daily life and have not been forced to give up rights to privacy. That was then. Why are they reacting the way they are? This be my thinking: Blair could react in a more positive way for his people by getting out of Iraq. If you will remember what happened in Spain last year, you may catch on to the fact that "Coalition" forces are being targeted. Blair, take a note from the Spanish government, listen when your people tell you they want out of Iraq, and make that happen for them. That could be a really good security measure. Try it and get back to me.

In light of this, I am shocked to hear that the UK is dumbing itself down to US/Bush levels by employing a "shoot-to-kill" policy. Apparently, the Brazilian who was shot dead in the Tube the other day was already held down on the floor when they shot him in the head. Whatever happened to debilitating the victim first with a non-fatal wound to the leg, if absolutely necessary? When did that cease to be a decent policy? These cops are supposed to be protecting the public. But when the cops start to kill the public and rationalizing it by saying it's a means to an (very unattainable) end, it's natural for the rest of us who don't carry guns to get a little anxious. I can't fathom why people haven't gotten it into their heads that when you give a person too much power over others, they get insatiable and crazy. Blair need only look at his Coalition buddy to know that.

The Search - addendum

A gentleman left me a comment (thank you!) with a link to a document about how to politely refuse a search. The answer was to calmly walk out of the station where the searches are being conducted. The article also advised its readers not to run away or risk being shot dead, guilty or not, as happened in London. Don't you just love how fucking police officers in charge of protecting people would rather just shoot pretty much at will instead of doing it the old fashioned way and at least attempting to ID the person as the bad guy before shots are fired? Remember Amadou Diallo? That's why I don't trust NYC cops. Anyway, the walking away thing would be doable except for one thing: how do I get anywhere if not on the subway? This is how Bloomberg (the City) and the MTA manipulate New Yorkers. The city would pretty much stop moving altogether were it not for the subway. So when they introduce searches or fare hikes, we can't do a damn thing about it (except go to public hearings on the matter where everybody complains but the authorities screw us anyway) and must submit or else agree to not go anywhere ever.

I agree that searches may not do all that much to counter terrorism. Look at the airport security measures. They have become a big joke, the stuff of tv sitcoms, and I personally love to tell about the time that I wore flip flops on a flight to D. C. so that I would not be made to take them off at the security checkpoint. Guess what? The idiots made me take them off anyway, saying that I could have explosives taped to my feet (!!!!) That would make a great episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Imagine Larry David going through that at the hands of some ex-surfer suddenly hired by the TSA at LAX.

The reality is there is such a thing as terrorism and no one gets to choose where, when or how bad. I'm already used to the airport crap, and this is just the same shit. All I can do is hope that I look innocent enough that no one will fuck with me, and that one day, this will all be over and we can have our constitutional rights back.

viernes, julio 22, 2005

The Search

As you all, my lovely and ever-faithful readers, know well, I am not at all comfortable with the US policy of invasion of privacy since 9/11. New York City subway and bus riders, in a questionable move by Mayor Bloomfuckinberg, are now subject to random searches of bags and packages and whatnot. Some people say that Bloomberg took this measure because he was embarrassed that the Transit Union announced that they were never trained in counter-terrorism measures. Others give Bloomie a break and say that he did it because of the London tube and bus bombings and a big city can never be too careful. I think it's a combination. Part of me thinks that Bloomberg would never have ordered the searches if it weren't for London, because he's a lazy, foolish ass-kisser who doesn't like to be called out on his shit. The other part of me thinks that it is about fucking time this kind of thing happened, because Lord knows NYC is still pretty vulnerable. In that regard, I will submit to these random searches, somewhat unhappily, but since I know there's a need for it, so be it. What I don't like is the stories already coming out about cops with God complexes taking a person's bag and throwing its contents out on the platform. The whiny people have already yelled racism, but it's too soon to tell about that (hold it together, folks). However, I will be the first to take notice if this random search thing goes awry, since NYC cops have the worst reputations EVER, right up there with the LAPD, and I don't really trust them with so-called good deeds.

jueves, julio 21, 2005

A little note for workplace supervisors and other fools

If you want your slaves to do things exactly the way you want them done, open your mouths and tell them so. Don't wait until they've done something unknowingly wrong so you can have a go at them. Just tell them once, that's all it takes. Surely in your superior-being training, someone mentioned something about that. Be decent, fuckers.

miércoles, julio 20, 2005

The first step

Yesterday, the Vice-President of Guatemala, by order of the Inter-american Court of Human Rights, made a visit to a village in the highlands called Plan de Sanchez to apologize officially for the army's atrocities there during the early eighties . Some people say this is too little, too late, but I regard it as the first step towards forgiving and forgetting. It's really too bad that it took this long, but better late than never. It seems to me that the Berger administration is taking greater steps in this regard than any of Guatemala's other, corrupt governments.

I know this fact because I went straight to the Prensa Libre (Guatemalan newspaper) website and read it. It was also on Yahoo! news. Neither the BBC, the New York Times, nor the Washington Post even mentioned the event, and I read those front to back. How convenient to not let the world know about the positive things that happen in Latin America. But when a van full of missionaries gets attacked, it makes the front fucking page.

In other positive Guatemala news, ex-President of Guate. Alfonso Portillo, one of the most corrupt leaders in the country's history is about to land in jail, hopefully. A warrant has finally been issued for his arrest for stealing $16,000,000 by diverting the money from the finance to the defense department where he very cleanly pocketed the money. I think there's a lot more there, but something is better than nothing and like Malcolm said, by any means possible.

martes, julio 19, 2005

Tattoos, weight, and other demons

During the past couple of weeks, I've endured quite a bit of scrutiny, those "I mean well" comments, etc., regarding my tattoo(s), particularly the one of the Koi on my left shoulder. The latest was just now when, in the office, no less, a new colleague (American, of course. Not big on manners) sees the Koi peeking out from the edge of my top and feels it her duty to slide over the edge of my top, push aside the bra strap (!) and take a good look. I think this is a little more extreme than just going up to a dreadlocked hunk of man and feeling the locks without asking, but Critic and Anhedonia, I feel you.

There were some comments in Guatemala, too. My cousins saw the Koi and were way cool about it and all "Esta virgo!" which means "it's cool!". Other comments "Only gang members get tattoos! Are you in a gang now?" And my mothers comment, which made me laugh, actually, and go just a little red since she made the announcement over lunch in front of two cousins, Auntie Carmen and grandma: "Yeah, and she's got another one of a big butterfly right on her ASS!" Note: it's not really on my ass. It is right above it on the small of my back.

I'm thinking though that my mom was just sore because this time around, since there always has to be at least one of us who has to take criticism for being , um, gordita (a nicer way to say chunky as hell), she was the gordita and I was, get this y'all, skinny (comparatively speaking). Finally! And with my cousin pregnant with what is sure to be one of the cutest little beebees ever (her husband is pretty cute, ha ha), I'm not the only panzona in the family! At last! The mixture of the South Beach Diet and the Moctezuma's Revenge Diet, in which everything that goes in soon comes right back out (which was most advantageous because I got to eat tamales, tortillas, Champus, espumillas, yummy breads, turrones and cake without gaining an ounce) ensured that I was even more lithe upon my return to the States. Sadly, the latter diet is not one you can choose to keep and to continue receiving its benefits, one must consistently travel to foreign, Third World countries for more than a week at a time. I advise also that the diet is not always hearts and flowers, if you know what I mean, so be prepared.

All in all, the vacay was pretty great. I loved seeing my family and I miss them a lot. The family dramas were many and sort of painful, but time changes everything, and I hope next visit will be even better. I did get to spend a lot of time with my mommy who I love very, very much despite some issues I have with her, and yeah, I cried when she left, even though i will see her on 2 September in Washington. Oh, and I took the weaving lessons with her in Atitlan. We were doing pretty well, but couldn't get used to being at the loom (the contraption where one end is tied to a tree and the other around you, which is supposed to make it tight and easier for weaving and whatnot, but for those who don't weave as their livelihood, it's not so comfy). My mom and I quit halfway into it, but made friends and had a good time. We also went to the beach. The house we stayed in belonged to her friend, so we had to endure them and their more-than-loud friends. The friend and the husband, I like. The daughter and the rest of them, well, in Guate there is a word for them and it ain't so flattering, although they were nice enough. one of them reminded me of one of my uncles. Nonetheless, it was like being at a party where you only know two people, and they're busy making conversation. Even worse when you are perpetually regarded as the kid, better seen and not so much heard, even though this "kid" is pushing 30. The second day at the beach my other uncle came down with his son, and I felt a lot better. My unky sang karaoke, which was funny, and he got the highest score.

The strangest thing happened when I got back, though: I got this horrible lump in my stomach, you know, the one filled with fear. I was petrified of going back to work! Not only that but the "tropical" weather (hot and hair-dryer humid almost everywhere you go) seems to have returned to New York on the same flight I took. Apparently, it stopped being like that when I left and then returned when I came back to work. Well, work was OK. I was anticipating piles of papers for me to file and other shit, since no one around here seems to lift a finger but me and my friend, but she did all of that for me, perhaps because she had a feeling that the minute I came back, there would be three or four people waiting to give me my orders. She was right. People here don't say "hello", they say "I need" and "Can you do this urgently". Same old, same old. I know it was only two weeks, but I always hope that people will evolve, slowly but surely. I really do believe in miracles, and even though I get disappointed sometimes, I figure optimism is the way to go.