Carolina Vazquez Araya
Photo: Bill Hackwell
In Guatemala, a strategy of terror is being carried out on the bodies of girls, boys, and adolescents. The country is passing through one of its darkest periods in its recent history. Helpless and unaided against the power of crime syndicates, the population is paralyzed when confronted with the reality of a country/government kidnapped by criminal organizations that operate with the connivance of the highest authorities, with the people condemned to fear and submission. The efforts of these groups to take over the last bastion of justice – the Constitutional Court – carries a sinister message: democracy, which has cost so much blood and sacrifice since the eras of the dictators, is at the point of being crushed by a pact between politicians, elite businessmen, and ignorant military men – all greedy, obtuse, and hungry for power.
The current scenario seems to have been planned in detail in order to erase even the most minimal effort of any citizen opposition and begins to reveal itself as an attempt to do away with any vestige of respect for the Constitution and its mandates. The citizens – this mass of people in which power is supposedly vested – find themselves under siege and girls, boys, adolescents, and women seem to have been carefully selected as sacrificial victims in a scandalous maneuver designed to quell all rebellion, silence the mass of people and force them to accept the unacceptable.
The kidnappings, disappearances, rapes and killings of children have reached the levels of terrorism. The warning signs have become a daily background, and so they no longer provoke reactions, creating an environment of accepting as normal and becoming accustomed to the worst acts of violence directed against the most vulnerable and defenseless group of society. Guatemala displays itself before the international community as a country of impunity, like a country in which organized crime rules and decides the destiny of our country. Like a territory without justice, in which the law acts depending on the size of the bribe.
This shame at a global level does not affect the crime syndicates’ business, but it constitutes an enormous burden, and a constant threat for the future of the country, whose people watch helpless as their few opportunities for achieving development are systematically sabotaged by the business elites and the most backward and corrupt political insiders. Any attempt to change this current state of things – a situation perfectly established to maintain the privileges of those sectors – requires direct citizen intervention. But people are afraid, and this fear allows free rein to the criminals in power.
The system is literally kidnapping, raping, and killing girls, boys and adolescents. There is no justice for their lives; their fates depend on institutions captured by horrible individuals in collusion with the victimizers. Girls and boys must not be raped, must not be touched, and must not be killed. Those who commit these atrocities, aided by an apathetic and corrupt system of justice, deserve definitive and severe sentences. By the same token, those who adopt a paternalistic attitude and lock up girls, boys, adolescents and women so that they can avoid being victims of these foul actions make themselves accomplices of the criminals. To try to assign the victims the blame for the evil attacks that they suffer in all areas is an absolute outrage. The streets, schools, churches and homes should be protected sanctuaries for these most valuable members of society, and not hidden corners enabling their abuse.
Locking up girls, boys, and adolescents is not the answer.
Translation by Resumen Latinoamericano, North America Bureau