ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion

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politics, election, guatemala

The presidential elections here are happening this Sunday, November 9, as I´ve mentioned a few times before. My plan has been to be an observer, working through a local organization here in Xela, probably going to a more rural community for Saturday night and the day of voting on Sunday. Now, it turns out that the organization may not need everyone they have, and so I´m an "alternate", which I found out yesterday. This makes me a little cranky, mainly because of timing; at this late date, it´s a scramble to try to find something else.

So, I may end up not doing observation, but it´ll be an interesting time to be here, anyway. There´s a new law, just passed by congress, that everything needs to be closed Saturday, Sunday, Monday, especially news organizations. This is pretty fishy, as you might imagine, and there´s a fair amount of resistance to it, but people are stocking up on food and other things, just in case everything DOES shut down this weekend.

A local independent journalist spoke at the school earlier this week, and gave us some insight into politics here and how that interacts with media. Needless to say, like anywhere else, one hand washes the other, and the "leading" candidate, Oscar Berger, happens to be related to people high up in one of the two major news organizations in the country, so all of the coverage he´s gotten is a tad suspect in that context.

There are also some people who are fairly strongly expecting there to be a coup around this election. The journalist pointed out two things this week when he spoke: First, Guatemala has had a coup of the government every 9-11 years since 1944, and the last one was in 1993, so we´re about due. Second, there has already been a "technical" coup in the fact that Rios Montt has been allowed to run, despite the fact that the current constitution´s stance on who can run in presidential elections was practically written specifically to exclude Montt.

So, it´ll be an interesting next week or so. Stay tuned. I´ll be very interested to hear what kind of coverage all of this gets in the US, so folks should email me things you may hear (I´m betting there won´t be a lot of coverage there, actually, but, hey, I´m still curious.) Also, if the law shutting everything down does go into effect, I expect I won´t be able to get online, and maybe not phone, from Saturday - Monday, and, depending, of course, on how things go AFTER the election, maybe not afterwards, so be prepared for some silence from me this weekend, in that case.

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