P o p p i n g
Oh Guatemala, you beautiful country! How sad it is to know your history, but January finally gave us something we can celebrate about. Almost 35 years later, justice has been served. What really happened in the fire at the Spanish embassy in 1980 we will never truly know. However, the authorities clearly hold a great burden of the responsibility as they trapped and possibly set fire to the embassy, killing 37 people in total including, indigenous campesinos from Quiche, university students and diplomatic employees. For this crime, Garcia Arredondo, the leader of the “Commando Six” of the national police, received a 90 year sentence in January. Nobel Prize Winner, Rigoberta Menchu, who lost both her father and cousin in the fire, was co-plaintiff in the case. She had become a spokesperson for the families of the victims and after many years of fighting in the courts, they finally received the justice they so patiently sought; which is a great step forward for a country in need of understanding its past in order to find peace for the future.
F lo p p i n g
Where’s the justice?!
Former President of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo is said to be on track to be released from prison in late February. Portillo has been serving a 6 year sentence in a Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado after being convicted of receiving a $2.5 million bribe from the Taiwanese government in exchange for diplomatic recognition. The US government got involved after he was acquitted of embezzlement charges in Guatemala (here is where you roll your eyes) but was then accused by a Manhattan federal prosecutors office of conspiring to launder millions of dollars of his country’s money through bank accounts in the United States and elsewhere. When will these white collar criminals receive a punishment relative to the huge crimes that they have committed? Talks that Portillo might even attempt to run for public office in the upcoming elections is another slap in the face for Guatemalans.
It’s February! A month for lovers to buy cheesy valentine´s gifts and declare their love for that one special person (or your multiple lovers)!
However, for many of us, Valentine’s is a shoddy holiday because we still haven’t met that lucky person. We’ve taken up salsa, but even strutting our smooth moves at La Parranda hasn’t come to any fruition. We´ve bought some fancy new clothes and even got a Q10 haircut but that also doesn’t seem to work. What can you do to change your luck? Well Xela has its own patron for lovers and love seekers. Her name is Vanushka and this is her story:
Margarita Mielos, a Hungarian gypsy, who would later be known only as Vanushka, settled in Xela in the 1920´s. During her time here she met a younger man of Spanish decent with whom she fell madly in love. The classic story of poor girl and rich boy was promptly enacted to the tee by these two lovers. With time, word of their romance reached his wealthy family. This resulted in the young man, a member the Xela elite, being sent back to Spain by his family, where, it is believed, he married another woman soon after. Upon hearing this, Vanushka became mad with sadness and on November 11th she committed suicide.
Soon after this, people started visiting her tomb, which is conveniently located right at the entrance to Xela’s cemetery. Since then, generations of lovers and heartbroken people have come to this sacred place seeking a blessing, a boyfriend or just a little lovin’. Her tomb is covered in messages and pleas for love and understanding. Flowers are brought almost daily by those whose wishes have been granted by Vanuska’s mystical powers. Many swear by these powers. And every so often a grateful lover repaints her tomb, creating a clean slate for the new lovers to use.
So if you find yourself alone on Valentine´s, maybe it´s time you bring Vanushka an offering, and if the legend is true, you should be cuddling up to a new lover by Holy Week, singing Vanushka’s praises.
Here are some of the things written on her tomb:
“Please help me, I want Vivan to notice me.” Javier.
“Let our love flourish and blossom” Maria y Renato.
“Help me so Rudy Rene Ordonez Valdez can marry me soon, I promise to paint your tomb THANK YOU. KRV.”