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ruthless compassion
20 May 2004 @ 09:48 am
Yesterday's conference was on the issue of land in Guatemala today. I was backup translator, which is much more difficult for me than being the primary. Among the things we got was a brief overview of land-use here since the Mayans were in charge to today. Interestingly, things have changed, but not as much as one might think -- it's always been the few working the land for the many. The big benefit of the Mayan rule seems to have been than it was (mostly) more humane, and people weren't killed for choosing to grow food for their families rather than pick coffee for their overlords.

I can't hear the history of Guatemala from any perspective without feeling intense anger and shame about the role the US has played (and continues to play) in the politics of this small country. Anyone who thinks that the US is against genocide should reconsider.

In the first three months of this year, legal migrant workers from Guatemala living in the US and Europe sent back $800,000,000 to their families. That doubles the country's income from exports. This is an agricultural country that is no longer living on its agricultural products. At the two biggest fast food restaurants, McDonald's (US) and Pollo Campero (Guatemalan), the fries are made with Canadian potatoes. Not only is this bad for Guatemala (which has land perfect for growing potatoes in the highlands) but it's bad for the environment (why are we shipping tons of potatoes from Canada to Guatemala?). Globalization is the new evil, and it feels frightfully inevitable. Guatemala's new export is human labor.
 
 
ruthless compassion
20 May 2004 @ 09:56 am
Things I didn't do this trip that I thought I wanted to do: salsa classes, weaving classes. It's good to have reasons to have to come back!

I also haven't prepared anything for my graduation tomorrow night. I'm feeling lame about that, but... still not feeling creative.

There are some things that are very difficult for me about travelling alone, and looking for a hotel room at the end of a day of travel is one of them. For this reason, I'm trying to figure out ahead of time where I'd like to stay when I go to the lake on Monday night, but I foolishly didn't bring a guidebook with me this trip. I will have to pester other students, at least one of whom is bound to have the most recent lonely planet.

All that said, I have a bone deep sense of contentment about my life right now. I still feel like I have way too many options to choose from as far as where to go next, but I like ALL of the options, so I feel rich.