Monday, September 29, 2008


Every once in a while, we have demonstrations and protests here in Guatemala. Usually what happens is that the government wants to pass some legislation into law, the small guy opposes it, government doesn't listen to Small Guy, so lots and LOTS of Small Guys (which make up the majority of the population) get together and block off the roads, set things on fire, make some speeches and do some chanting. Unfortunately, this is usually what has to happen for the Small Guys to be heard.

Well, today the Small Guys are out making their voices heard.

The government is trying to reform its system of identification for all citizens. They want all of the local governments to turn in their records so that they can be incorporated into the new digital system. Some local municipalities are rebelling, refusing to turn over the paper records, and inciting the protests on purpose.

There is good reason for the government's proposed reforms. There are serious problems with corruption in the system: it is too easy to obtain bogus ID's, and thus drug traffickers, baby traffickers, illegal aliens, etc., can move about the country easily. Also, illegal voting occurs during each election. At least for the present, I think a new system would be beneficial.

The Small Guys argue that they are poor and can't afford to pay for it. Local governments charge the people a yearly fee that, here in San Juan, is only Q8. (That's a little more than a dollar.) If the new system is adopted, the fee here will go up to Q60 (eight bucks). Daniel makes a good point: People here walk around with cell phones, wear the traditional woven outfits that cost hundreds of Q's... They can probably afford the extra Q52 per year.

The greater and more legitimate fear is that if Big Government knows them, all the lands they own, how many children they have, etc., that the information can be used against them, and those things can be taken away on a whim.

In light of the end times, we think their fears could become reality some day.

Pray for Guatemala.

Photo from El Quetzalteco, a local newspaper.