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.
Roxanna Baldetti, Guatemala’s Vice-President, was a hot topic yet again on the social networks during March, continuing her trend of being perhaps Guatemala’s most scorned upon politician online (although presidential hopeful Manuel Baldizón is a strong competitor).
Given the devastating drought that affected some 1.2 million people last year, one would have thought that a comment from Baldetti that she was going to consult NASA over whether they thought that another drought was going to occur in Guatemala during 2015 was innocent enough not to incur online ridicule. Baldetti wanted to “see the maps” of NASA in order to know whether the central government should invest their money in improved seeds and fertilizers or in food aid, which does seem at least reasonably sensible. But these comments need to be taken in the context of Baldetti´s famous, and recurring, “muladas” (stupid comments). This is a Vice-President that has come out with such classics as: “I´ve never robbed a penny… I swear on my mother´s life, who is dead”; “Europe is cheaper than Petén”; “Greetings to the vice-president, wherever she is” (yes, that was when she was vice-president); and “for those that haven´t been [the Federico Mora Hospital] is very nice” (referring to the institution that was found to be the worst psychiatric hospital in all the Americas).
Given Baldetti´s propensity for muladas, Guatemalan tweeters were quick to poke fun at the thought of her asking NASA questions, coming up with their own #PreguntasDeBaldettiParaLaNasa such as “how much does this Q1 tortrix cost?” (Lord Chapin); “how can I take my house to go get it painted?” (Haji Ishak); “Is a blackberry more intelligent than me?” (Lord Chapin); “Is orange a primary colour?” (Rulo Bono – orange is her party´s colour); “Could my phrases be considered philosophy?” (ABY); and “Why do the chapines always criticise me and never value all my hard work?”
Later in the month, Baldetti got herself into more trouble over her outspoken support for the government´s policy for a differentiated minimum wage (so that companies in certain regions can get away with paying workers under the national minimum wage). This policy was recently suspended by the Constitutional Court after legal action taken by Guatemala´s human rights ombudsman and was also criticised by the United Nations as being a policy that would be a clear human rights violation. Baldetti chimed in by saying that “What would you prefer to have, Q1,200 in your pocket or nothing?”. Guatemala´s tweeters were quick to criticise her comments, calling the Q1,200 proposed minimum wage the #SalarioBaldetti and suggesting that she should try living on Q1,200 as it would be better than nothing. CorrupciónGT went on to point out that Baldetti spent 103 times the #SalarioBaldetti just on clothing in 2013, whilst Rolando Fonseca from Guatemala’s Communicaciones football team earns 125x the #SalarioBaldetti. Mónica Carrera, meanwhile, joked that Q1,200 wouldn’t even be enough to pay for a bath in flour, alluding to the infamous incident last year when a protester covered Baldetti in lime.
On an even lighter note, another popular hashtag from March was #CasacaMundial (a world class lie). Guatemalans shared a few of their favourites: “Have you got back with your ex? Nah, we’re ‘just friends’” (Sabrinita); “We’ve succeed in reducing violence, breaking up organised crime gangs and we are being vigilant on the streets (Ezlyn – referring to Otto Perez Molina’s speech in February); “I didn’t reply because I ran out of battery” (El Talishte); and “Let’s go out, but just for a couple of beers” (Darth Batres).