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viernes, marzo 16, 2007

Guatemala: Cleansing Bush

Cross posted and updated from daily Kos
Following Bush's visit to Guatemala, a complete and total PR disaster, Mayan people gathered to cleanse the pyramid Bush visited. This cleansing has some important context.

Mayan spiritual leaders held a purification ritual at the top of a pyramid visited days earlier by US President George W Bush.

Some Guatemalans dislike Mr Bush and the US because of foreign policies going back to Central America's civil wars.

With coloured candles on the four corners of the reconstructed ruins representing different elements in nature, burning incense and a ceremonial drum two Mayan priests restored the balance and harmony to the place.

What exactly did Bush do at the pyramid?
Mr Bush toured the site on Monday with Guatemalan President Oscar Berger.

Mr Bush watched a re-enactment of an ancient Mayan ball game at the Iximche ruins played by young men in costumes using a soccer ball painted gold.

The event offended some Mayans who said it portrayed their culture as a tourist attraction.

It offends me for the same reason and also because it's a glaring example of Gringo exoticism. The game played at the ball court was not authentic. It was the kind of baloney tourist nightclubs and hotels have been purveying to rum drinking foreigners for centuries. And that should have been obvious to everyone involved in this spectacle. But it didn't seem to matter. So much for the cultural sensitivity of Bush and his Guatemalan sockpuppet, President Oscar Berger.
"The fact that [the pyramid's] served as a rug to a mass murder[er] is infuriating, it's repugnant," said Mayan leader Jauna Bazival, "and he's thrown our dignity as Mayan human beings on the ground."

But that's not all. At the end of this month the very same pyramid is scheduled to be the site of the third Continental Indigenous Summit, a gathering some 2,000 national and international delegates from March 26-30. It's expected to be attended by Bolivian President Evo Morales, Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeno and other figures. In other words, the next gathering isn't the Gringo one, it's the indigenous one, the one at which the pyramid will have actual cultural and spiritual resonance.

So, just as Bush's visit was intended to compete with a rival tour by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, it also picked a site in Guatemala to compete with the Indigenous Summit. This propaganda use of sacred sites is old news. A few years ago an irreplaceable part of a sacred altar in Machu Picchu was damaged by a falling camera that was taking images for a Cusquena beer commercial.

But that's not all either. The visit by a sitting US president to Guatemala, a country the US has repeatedly invaded, subverted and manipulated brings with it frightening echoes of the US continuing to play Edgar Bergen to Guatemala's Charlie McCarthy.
The US supported military governments in Guatemala during the country's 1960-96 civil war, which traces its roots to the overthrow of a left leaning government by a CIA-supported coup in 1954.

Entire Mayan villages were destroyed during the military's scorched earth counter-insurgency campaign that left nearly a quarter million people dead or missing.
The appearance in Guatemala of Bush presents a not particularly veiled threat against any political moves to the left, toward land reform, toward nationalizing industry, toward resisting CAFTA. Put another way, it's a reminder that the US has some interest in Guatemala, that it has treated Guatemala as lacking sovereignty before, and that in some circumstances, it wouldn't hesitate to do so again. So much for US friendship.


Blogger Egan Ehlers said...

Interesting story, which I think you got exactly right in the last paragraph. When I lived there, I ran into volunteers, archaeolgists, and others who swore that U.S. officials regularly visited the Peten with oil contractors. Supposedly, the region is thought by some to sit atop oil fields. I've never researched this myself, so I can't vouch for the truth of such tales, but people say that Guatemala is a continguency plan for big oil should a crunch come. Certainly a shift to the polical left would upset those plans.

7:06 p.m.  

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