Yesterday at about 3:30 pm, Guatemala time, the husband of one of my mother's best friends from childhood was shot dead in the street as he left a restaurant where he had had lunch with his wife and grand-daughter. I didn't think the victim was the man we knew, because there must be hundreds of other people in Guatemala with the same name. I didn't realize until I went to the Prensa Libre website and saw the article with the picture of her sitting on the sidewalk next to her husband's lifeless body.
My mother told me that the authorities did not bother themselves with taking away his body until 4 hours later, so the man's wife sat there all afternoon protecting his body. God only knows how it was that the assailants didn't kill the wife and the granddaughter, and I can only imagine the state of shock that the family is in right now. The wife is very stoically making arrangements for the funeral, to which throngs of people are expected to attend, but has yet to shed a tear. For me, when someone close to me dies, it takes a couple of days for it to really sink in, and that's when I let it all out. But I can only imagine, and I hope I never have to experience for myself, what I would feel had that person been killed right in front of me as we talked about being so full from lunch and then I had to watch him dead and bleeding for four hours.
And now for the funny (not ha ha at all) part: witnesses to the murder there on the street caught one of the assailants in his car and beat him and sent him to the hospital, and that seems to be the only reason he was caught. The other guy ran off and the cops didn't really knock themselves out giving chase.
So, for those of you who really don't know anything about Guatemala except for Tikal and Antigua, the hippie hang out, this is how Guatemalans in the city live these days. This is what they have to fear as they walk innocently down the street. This is why I can't go anywhere in the city by myself. This, folks, is real corruption. Whatever corruption on the part of Bushco we complain about is really not that bad compared to other places where people are murdered because of their job, where people get their pensions taken from them by the government and can get mysteriously "taken away" because of what they believe at any time. I may have a lot to say regarding our government, or lack thereof, but I'm glad to live in this country, if only because it is one of the last countries in the world where I can go to the supermarket whenever I want and be relatively safe.