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Rethinking the Past: Re-imagining the Now

by Alba Carrasco

“After Guatemala: Rethinking the Past, Reimagining the Now” is a collective exposition that, after visiting New York last April will be exhibited at Ciudad de Imaginación (5 Calle, 14-101, Zona 3, Quetzaltenango) from June 6th to July 5th. This exhibition is the result of a year long collaboration between Guatemalan artists, scholars and thinkers and includes a series of collective projects that aim to rethink the country’s history from different perspectives. The Project is a collaboration between the Guatemalan Independent Cultural Institution (City of Imagination) and an US academic institute (The New School, one of the leading institutions of art and design education in the world) that have come together to make visible the work of these artists. The exposition also demonstrates the ties with the US and how local artistic research can transform the ways in which historical memory is understood and examines theories such as utopia or dystopia in Guatemala. The whole exposition will comprise of 10 teams that bring together around 40 artists.

Not So Magic Formula

Frequent readers of XelaWho (we´re hoping you guys still exist) will remember our cover story of April this year about the “magic formula” that was touted to miraculously clean the grotesquely polluted Lake Amatitlán within a mere 10 months.

In case you missed it, a quick recap: in March AMSA and the now ex vice-president Roxana Baldetti decided to take it upon themselves to clean up Lake Amatitlán near Guatemala city, a lake so polluted that it wouldn´t be far stretched to imagine Godzilla rising up out of its radioactive-looking waters. Their ingenious plan was to spend Q137 million on 93,000 litres of a “fórmula mágica” (yes, they actually used those words) which would then be dumped into the lake in order to magically clean it of all its pollutants.

Spain’s Pissed Too

by Fathouse Production

Q90 billion absorbed by corruption in less than a decade; Q100 billion in cuts to education and healthcare; a dictator’s legacy enjoying impunity; a female number two leading a corruption ring. Sound like Guatemala? Actually, we’re in the mother country, Spain! In 2013, government agencies investigated over 1,600 potential cases of corruption, mostly involving the country’s two main political parties. Only around 20 people have been sent to jail for the recent corruption wave. This past Sunday, May 24th, Spain voted in municipal elections. The new political party that grew out of the 2011 15M movement, Podemos, won control of Madrid and Barcelona. 15M was Spain’s Occupy Wall Street four months prior to its American baby cousin. Unlike their baby cousin, their motto was, ‘We’re going slow, because we’re going far.’ Podemos’ leader is a professor in his 30s with a goatee, ponytail, and kickass holy name: Paul Churches (Pablo Iglesias).

Recipe of the Month: Pollo a la Moza

by Simone Riddle

As the political climate changes here in Guatemala, I’ve decided to break away from lo traditional for this month’s recipe. There is a plato tipico in Guatemala which roasts chicken in beer, but as I find myself without an oven at the moment I decided to mix it up a bit; apologies for all you die-hard tradicionistas. However, this recipe does feature an essential Chapín ingredient: Moza, la cerveza oscura. Make this for la banda and they cannot fail but to be impressed.

Grow Your Own: Why Organic / Why Local?

by Juan Jardinero

“Natural, organic and unrefined foods speak a language your genes understand.”

Thorbjörg Hafsteinsdottir

Following the footsteps of many cities around the world, Xela is taking part in the organic food trend.

Organic shops have opened up; organic markets are now a monthly event at Parque Central. Even events like the Biggest Organic Salad of Guatemala, which was recently organized in Xela, aim to promote and bring awareness about the food we consume and the way it’s being produced. Organic food and buying locally produced food have a huge impact on your health, on the economy, on politics and on the lives of those producing it. So here area few reasons why incorporating more and more organic food into our diets can be beneficial to all.

Trendy

With the highest number of Facebook users in Central America and a Twitter population growing by the thousands every month, social media can be a great place to find out what’s buzzing in Guatemala. Of course, there’s also a whole lot of nonsense posted online too, but at XelaWho we like nonsense so here are some of last month’s social media trends, with the interesting & the informative alongside the vacuous & the ludicrous.

With the gamechanging news this month surrounding corruption in the government, social media over the past few weeks has been going crazy over the news. #RenunciaYa displayed pictures of Guatemalans around the world showing their support during the demonstrations on  the 16th of May. Demonstrators in New York, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Canada and Switzerland shared pictures of themselves being involved in this historic event. RenunciaYa replied simply with “thank you so much for you support”. Short but sweet. With a constant stream of politicians exiting the cabinet in either disgrace or handcuffs many feel that enough still has not been done. Andrea Ichiu tweeted that resignations were insufficient and that people wanted justice and reform.  One of my favourite pictures was of footballing legend Diego Maradona. Known for his (genius) hand of god goal, the Argentine posted a picture online offering his support. One followers comment simply said “Legend”. My thoughts exactly.

Football Fever!

Portada XW118 smallDon’t rub your eyes! You are not dreaming! Guatemala are world beaters in Football…well almost. Last Sunday (19/04) saw the final of the 24th World Football School Tournament between Guatemala and France, right here in Xela. The tournament, for both boys and girls, involved 31 teams from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas competing to be champions. The Guatemalan girls’ team made it all the way to the final, navigating their way past tournament favourites Finland, and beating a strong German team 2-1 in the semi-final. In the final they played France, who had beaten the Guatemalan “B” team in the group stage 8-0. After draw in 90 minutes the game when to shut-outs. Each player had 15 seconds to dribble the ball from the halfway line, before attempting to score past the keeper. France prevailed 3-1 to be crowned tournament champions, but what an incredible achievement from the Guatemalan team!

Let’s be honest, football in Guatemala is pretty shit. Most players run around the pitch like headless chickens (to coin a popular football/soccer phrase), on pitches that would not look out of place on a farmer’s field. Most players rarely stay at a club for more than one year before skipping over the rainbow, in search of that new pot of gold that is lying in wake. Also (like a lot of things here) there is a real lack of money going into Guatemalan football, though someone did manage to scrape together $1.5 million to get Lionel Messi to play in a friendly game back in 2013. Messi, of course, decided to come (I mean I would dress up as a woman and sing “I Will Survive” on national TV for that kind of money) scoring three goals, with a great value of $500,000 per goal. A good hour and half’s work don’t you think?

Stuff

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P o p p i n g

¡Xela Despierta!

On the the 25th of April, hundreds of Quetzaltecos filled Xela’s Parque Central to join the nationwide protest against rampant corruption within the current government administration, after a Mafia-type operation was revealed to be operating within the country’s tax office, siphoning off millions of dollars-worth of tax money each month. The shouts were loud and clear: “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” (“the people together will never be defeated” – definitely doesn´t have as good a ring to it in English!). Dozens of banners decorated the park, adorned with clever slogans such as:  “Roxanna Baldetti: I´m not asking for your resignation, I´m demanding your trial”, “You don´t want any corruption? Then why do you keep voting for the same parties!”, “I don´t want your resignation, I´m firing you” and “A population that´s asleep can dream, but a population that´s awake can act.”

The Power of Protest in Guatemala

by Diana Pastor

On April 25th, there was a peaceful national demonstration to demand the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina and Vice-President Roxana Baldetti. In Guatemala, it’s hard to get a large number of people to turn up to a protest: some people do not attend for fear, others due to lack of time and others because they believe that demonstrations are powerless to change the situation. But on the 25th of April, the square of the Constitution of Guatemala and the central park of Xela were full of students, young people, old people and families with children; all there up to express their rejection of the government that has served for almost 4 years in a totally incompetent and shameless manner.

Flex Literary Festival

by Alba Carrasco

FLEX, the Festival of Books in Xela, arrives in Quetzaltenango on the 8th, 9th and 10th of May to celebrate Reading. FLEX is an event designed to encourage reading, and literature with people of all ages through exhibition, sales of books and cultural activities. We have a rich cultural program with participation from writers, scholars, publishers and booksellers from across the region and country, as well as a wide range of libraries. FLEX, a partner of Ciudad de Imagnación, feels that value of literature is an essential for human development, and the importance of reading in forming more critical and responsible citizens. Therefore, FLEX was created with an inclusive and accessible meeting place for all those who wish to come and participate. All activities are free and we will have great discounts on books. In FLEX we have a large sample library and also publishers hosting sales expos, presenting their new publications. There will also be a wide range of magazines to choose from.