Trendy: Finger on the Pulse of Guate’s Social Media Buzz

Tragedy struck Guatemala on October 1st with #TragediaElCambray when a huge landslide engulfed the small mountain town of Cambray II, leaving at least 266 people dead. Guatemalans decided it was #EsTiempoDeAyudar (time to help) and mobilized online and offline to support the #RescateElCambray. The search & rescue operation quickly ballooned into a 1,800 team of firemen, NGO workers and volunteers, whilst thousands more participated in fundraising efforts, either by donating their own money or by organizing a multitude of street collections and benefit events across the country. Millions of quetzales were raised in the space of a couple of days.

A few days later, Guatemala made the international headlines again for a #LinchamientoAlcalde, when the mayor of Concepción, Sololá, was lynched and killed by an angry mob who accused him of  ordering an assassination attempt on a political rival, who had recently accused him of corruption. The events caused a furore online from shocked and outraged Guatemalans: @BrandonEstuardo  tweeted: “Nothing justifies these actions, no one has the right to take the life away of another, the courts should be responsible for dealing with these issues” whilst @DeZenteno  remarked “we´ve lost a sense and understanding of humanity, we´ve lost the right to life. It´s moment for us to reflect upon.”

October also saw the surprise re-appearance of Juan Carlos Monzón, Baldetti´s private secretary who was heavily implicated in the La Línea corruption scheme but who disappeared the moment it was made public by CICIG. Many believed he had been assassinated for “knowing too much” but in October he handed himself in to the Guatemalan authorities, claiming he was ready to confess and implicate the (ex) President and Vice-President in the scheme. His #DelcaracionMonzon quickly became a trending hashtag, causing speculations to fly around the social networks wondering whether he had handed himself in to get revenge on Baldetti and Perez Molina, because he had succeeded in hiding all the important evidence or because he feared for his life. One thing for certain, however, was that his statements in court led to some hilarious facial expressions, resulting in some brilliant memes under the hashtag  #MeEntregoComoMonzon  (see right).

And finally, we couldn´t finish off October without mentioning the run-off elections between Sandra Torres & Jimmy Morales. The two sparred in numerous debates in October & even had a very awkward hug after one of them.

On election day, millions of Guatemalans tweeted #VamosAVotar. However many others were tired of all of the political circus acts over the past few months and felt frustrated with only being able to choose between two mediocre candidates who are unlikely to bring any real change to Guatemala, leading them to be more concerned about the #LeySeca that was imposed across Guatemala on the weekend of the 24th and 25th. As one meme put it (see right): “No to the ley seca, we’ve already tried voting sober and look how that turned out.” Others wrote about what they would do if they were President: #DeSerPresidentYo “would get rid of the Ley Seca because it inhibits economic development”, “would build ‘solidarity cantinas”, “would ban reggaeton, bachata and big band music” were some of the proposals to found amongst many others. However, @CorderitoSoyYO was probably the most honest when she wrote “I wouldn’t do anything, exactly the same as the rest of the politicians in this country”.

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