Monday, June 14, 2010

Deadly month

A lot has been happening in Guatemala. A blog entry from earlier this month described the damage from the volcano eruption and resulting ash. During the eruption, tropical storm Agatha approached and hit southern Mexico and western Guatemala, triggering widespread landslides, killing at least 170 people. Soni found some incredible photos of the damage from the volcano/ash and storm/landslides. Ellen and her former mission co-worker colleagues have stressed that the death and destruction from landslides does not simply reflect the results of a natural disaster. Poverty and lack of government regulation means that – as in Haiti before the earthquake – poorly built homes and other buildings are erected, sometimes in unsafe areas, with little stormwater management. The storm hit the area where mission worker Karla Koll lives more than some other areas, but the locales of most of the folks in Guatemala we are working on the trip – Roger and Gloria Marriott (Coban), Amanda Craft (Antigua) , Pastor Gerardo Ich Pop (El Estor and Izabal) seemed less affected.

As Crescent Hill folks have become accustomed to in the weeks prior to mission trips, security issues have recently come to the fore. Mission co-worker Dennis Smith and Ellen shared with Crescent Hill folks information about a report about an early massacre of indigenous people in a village near Coban, where the team will be next month, dating back to the early days of the civil war: see picture above also)

Reminders of how violence has returned in somewhat different forms to Guatemala and the tough time the government has had dealing with it: The head of the U.N. effort to bring the rule of law to Guatemala quit, citing lack of progress and the government’s indifference and, in particular – the selection of an allegedly drug industry-tainted person as Guatemalan attorney general (the next week the Guatemalan parliament declined to confirm this person). In an apparent sign that the drug industry doesn’t approve of even the modest steps the government has taken to combat it, earlier this week the heads of several people beheaded showed up in and in front of public buildings – apparently in retaliation for the government trying to gain control of prisons from the gang leaders who have informally run the prisons and their business from behind bars.

-- Perry

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