A Storm on the Horizon?

Posted on Jun 1, 2011

by Jake Matlak, International Coordinator
As the rainy season in Guatemala inches closer day by day, one can feel the changes in the air. Days are hot and humid, and at night, lightning in the distance highlights the magnificent silhouettes of the surrounding mountains. The slow rumbling in the skies forebodes something powerful. As farmers anxiously await the rain, I am equally aware of another storm rapidly approaching.

Guatemala’s presidential elections will take place in September of this year. Political propaganda now covers the countryside, even in the remote town of Chajul. The previous elections, four years ago, were some of the bloodiest on record, with over 50 local candidates and party activists murdered. After 36 years of civil war, and crime and violence currently spiraling out of control, intimidation and fear are the name of the game in politics.

Man Corn

Chajul has nowhere near the level of violence and crime that plagues the capital.It is a rural community still steeped in traditional Mayan practices. The cycle of the corn crop warrants more attention than the political machinations of any one party. People want jobs, healthcare, education, and security, but they depend on the rainy season to grow the crops that will feed their families. Politicians come and go, but corn has sustained their bodies for millennia.

Limitless Horizons Ixil (LHI) has no affiliation with any political party, but as an organization working in education in Guatemala, we understand the effects of ignorance. Every family we work with was somehow touched by the civil war and the genocide that took place in this region. Although people want to forget the horror they witnessed, a vast majority are completely unaware that the leading candidate in this year’s election, Otto Peréz Molina, is a former general who helped orchestrate the mass murders in this very community. Children and adults gladly accept a day’s wage to paint a party logo on a wall, oblivious to what that symbol actually stands for.

LHI focuses on educating the youth in Chajul, and our goal is to provide a new generation with opportunities that their parents lacked. By offering scholarships to students in need, and then following up with tutoring, guidance counseling, job-training opportunities, computer classes, and Spanish lessons, we encourage them to learn about their country and its history and to form their own opinions. These students have the potential to think and vote and form the kind of community that they see fit. We want them to one day live without fear. We cannot rid the country’s political system of corruption and violence, but we can continue supporting our students through their studies so that one day they can. Bring on the rainy season!by Jake Matlak, International Coordinator
As the rainy season in Guatemala inches closer day by day, one can feel the changes in the air. Days are hot and humid, and at night, lightning in the distance highlights the magnificent silhouettes of the surrounding mountains. The slow rumbling in the skies forebodes something powerful. As farmers anxiously await the rain, I am equally aware of another storm rapidly approaching.

Guatemala’s presidential elections will take place in September of this year. Political propaganda now covers the countryside, even in the remote town of Chajul. The previous elections, four years ago, were some of the bloodiest on record, with over 50 local candidates and party activists murdered. After 36 years of civil war, and crime and violence currently spiraling out of control, intimidation and fear are the name of the game in politics.

Man Corn

Chajul has nowhere near the level of violence and crime that plagues the capital.It is a rural community still steeped in traditional Mayan practices. The cycle of the corn crop warrants more attention than the political machinations of any one party. People want jobs, healthcare, education, and security, but they depend on the rainy season to grow the crops that will feed their families. Politicians come and go, but corn has sustained their bodies for millennia.

Limitless Horizons Ixil (LHI) has no affiliation with any political party, but as an organization working in education in Guatemala, we understand the effects of ignorance. Every family we work with was somehow touched by the civil war and the genocide that took place in this region. Although people want to forget the horror they witnessed, a vast majority are completely unaware that the leading candidate in this year’s election, Otto Peréz Molina, is a former general who helped orchestrate the mass murders in this very community. Children and adults gladly accept a day’s wage to paint a party logo on a wall, oblivious to what that symbol actually stands for.

LHI focuses on educating the youth in Chajul, and our goal is to provide a new generation with opportunities that their parents lacked. By offering scholarships to students in need, and then following up with tutoring, guidance counseling, job-training opportunities, computer classes, and Spanish lessons, we encourage them to learn about their country and its history and to form their own opinions. These students have the potential to think and vote and form the kind of community that they see fit. We want them to one day live without fear. We cannot rid the country’s political system of corruption and violence, but we can continue supporting our students through their studies so that one day they can. Bring on the rainy season!