On The Way To Lake Atitlan
Reflecting on the past Maya genocide
By Greg Szymanski, JD
July 21, 2010
GRANADA, NICARAGUA — On the way to Guatemala, a quick detour to Nicaragua left time to reflect and try to understand what lies ahead in the Maya highlands near their sacred Lake Atitlan.
The purpose of this trip is to continue efforts to raise awareness and help for the indigenous people suffering from severe poverty and pollution. We have documented in the past the toxic cyanobacteria condition of Lake Atitlan, leaving the water undrinkable for more than 200,000 indigenous people. (Editor’s Note: I would ask all my readers and friends of Arctic Beacon to donate whatever they can to defray costs of this long trip as well as money to be given directly to the poor at Lake Atitlan. Any little bit helps while hitting the donate button on this web site…Please note if you donation is directed for Lake Atitlan)
But to truly understand why the Lake Atitlan region, as well as the Lake Isabal region, has been left polluted and impoverished, one must understand and reflect on the genocide of the Maya through the 1960s till the 90s.
A good place to start even when sitting at a Nicaragua internet cafe shop is Victor Perera’s book, Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy, Daniel Chauche , Photographer (Berkeley; CA: Univ. of California , 1993).
According to preventgenocide.org, Victor Perera is a native Guatemalan who took the better part of 6 years to write this book. This book is chock full of great information gathered from hundreds of interviews. Perera doesn’t waste time trying to interpret the events he writes about, instead he let’s the participants and witnesses speak for themselves. He interviews everybody for this book from wealthy landowners, government officials, military personnel, catholic and evangelical clergy and mostly the Mayan people who have suffered from 30 years of civil war. He then fills in the cracks with historical background. His writing is very precise and specific, his descriptions paint a very vivid picture of the oppression and genocide that continues to take place. The book begins with his visits to the garbage dump slums of Guatemala city and proceeds to other hot spots of violence. The core of the book is those chapters about the ixil triangle area where as many as one third of the local Mayan population was killed, disappeared or forced to flee the country. “By telling the stories of real people, Mayas who cling to their traditional gods, their communal ways and their brilliant woven clothing, Perera has selected the most effective means of conveying the astonishing resilience of Mayan culture. “Perera finds that military terrorism has outlasted the Communist threat; murder and massacre have become the reflexive response to any disagreement, public or private.”
And while on the bus going to Lake Atitlan, another book carried in my briefcase and highly recommended is a book about Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán, (James D. Sexton translator and editor) Ignacio: The Diary of a Maya Indian of Guatemala, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press).
This story concerns Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán, a Maya Indian, who Continue reading