ARZÚTOOPIA

There’s a new mayor in hell 

Guatemala City mayor and former president Álvaro Arzú died while playing golf last month. He was a patrician from an ancient Spanish family and a vain one at that someone who wanted a legacy as white as his hair and skin, which we’ve repeatedly compared to that shed by a reptile. He served Guatemala as president in the nineties, where he signed and implemented the peace accords that ended the internal conflict, and as Guatemala City’s mayor for more than a decade after that, where he transformed Zone 4 into a Brooklyn-esque warren of murals, farmers markets, and expensive apartments. 

It’s an irony, then, that his heart gave out on the 20th anniversary of the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi. The man responsible for the Catholic Church’s report on the Guatemalan genocide was beaten to death in his garage with a piece of concrete. Members of Arzu’s presidential guard were eventually found responsible. 

Did Arzú have anything to do with the murder? There’s not much direct evidence for that. What he did do was cover at every turn for the perps. He set up his own investigative commission which floated wild theories about gay priests and the parish dog. He sent his brother to ask the church to drop the whole thing. He paid street kids Q50 apiece to stand outside the courthouse with signs denouncing the prosecution. 

None of it worked. Former Presidential Guard captain and not-very-nice-guy Byron Lima was convicted for the murder. He set himself up as a mob boss in pris- on, smuggling in drugs and guns before getting his commeupance in a 2016 prison riot – six bullets to the head. No doubt they’re now hanging out together in hell, gentrifying neighborhoods and threatening human rights activists in the ninth circle. 

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