November 2005 Issue: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

novemberGuatemala got its ass kicked last month, and we’re not just talking about the World Cup qualifiers. We know that we’re Xela’s fun and games magazine, but when something like Stan comes along it affects us all – villagers, city folk, foreigners, party animals and poetry freaks.

Somebody wise once put something on a desk calendar about how tragedy brings out the true nature in people. We’re not going to go on about this (we promise!), but here are a few random thoughts that have crossed our minds over the last few weeks.

Normally, Guatemalan society can seem a bit cold and fragmented, but the last few weeks have been heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. People from all over the country, from all races, backgrounds and religions have come together to help those who got hit hardest by the storms. There’s still plenty to be done, and this is no time for group hugs, but we’re giving big ups to all the volunteers, donors, fundraisers and everybody else who’s involved in relief efforts. Let’s keep going and get this thing done.

Take Guatemala’s crappy infrastructure, add a sluggish bureaucracy and throw in a monster storm like Stan and things aren’t looking good. The wastefulness and lack of coordination that’s going on in “official” relief efforts is truly pitiful. That the study made after Hurricane Mitch predicted nearly every one of these landslides, floodings and other catastrophes means the government wasn’t just unprepared, there’s a strong case that they’re criminally negligent.

Pilfering from donated supplies? Robbing relief convoys or evacuated houses? Only giving out aid to people who belong to the same religion as you or who voted for you in the last election? These are not Godfearing people.

And now, on with the lightweight banter…

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