International Woman's Day (March 8) saw a variety of feminine related social issues in a prominent position in Guatemala.
Starting from "los ricos" down, the announcement of the First Lady of Guatemala Sandra Torres de Colom that she will run for president is raising few eyebrows of surprise, thought it is causing some constitutional consternation: relatives of the President are not allowed to run for public office. At any rate, Torres de Colom is already figuring second in most polls behind School of the Americas grad Otto Perez Molina. Perhaps we could even look at the story of the presidential race as allegorical. Why?
Violence against women in Guatemala has been out of control for decades, with nearly 700 murders being documented in 2010 alone. The AP is quoting activists as blaming the general devolution of society during the Civil War for the creation of a culture of violence, particularly against women. Not surprising for a society where the military trained soldiers by having them raise puppies then having the same soldier kill the puppies and drink the blood. I'm sure the people - particularly the women - of Guatemala have much to look forward to if Otto Perez Moliona and his "Mano Dura, Cabeza y Corazon" coalition takes office.
And finally, the archbishop of Guatemala, Oscar Julian Vian Morales, was interviewed by PBS this week and was questioned about reproduction and violence. On reproduction, the archbishop mostly toed the party line, though he was vague enough with his statements regarding contraception as a way to save human life that a poor Catholic might interpret child-bearing and starving to death in such a way that they might find consolation from el padre. In terms of the violence against women, the Archbishop refused to take a hard line on that issue as well, stating that women and men can attend classes to learn to "give her the place she really deserves." I know what he means to say, but it really does sound like putting women in their place, no?
All in all, Guatemala seems like the place destined to make Ciudad Juarez look attractive this season. Poor Guatemala, so far from God, so close to ... Guatemala.
*The snark implied by the photo is, yes, intended.