Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rolando de Guatemala

Rolando Lopez Crisostomo is a Mam (Mayan) Indian from San Marcos, Guatemala and offered a special presentation tonight at Saint Aloysius Catholic Church here in Spokane. He works for an organization called ADIMA, "Associacion para el Desarrollo Integral Maya Ajchmol," roughly translated as the Association for the Mayan Integral Development Ajchmol." Ajchmol is a Mam term meaning "weaver," and has reference to re-weaving the fabric of society after years of oppression and destruction.

Rolando tells the heartbreaking story of racism and persecution of indigenous people in Guatemala, even though they constitute a majority of the population (70%). In his home department (state) of San Marcos, 97% of the people live in poverty. Guatemala suffered 37 years of civil conflict where more than 200,000 indigenous people perished, and even since Peace Accords were signed in 1996, the people continue to live in fear. Transnational corporations are exploiting the natural resources and displacing local people without respect for indigenous rights. Women are being raped, children kidnapped, and people assassinated who oppose these corporations. The situation is dire.

As Rolando described the situation in Guatemala, my mind carried me back to the time I spent in that country. I had hoped things would improve, and I was deeply saddened to learn it has not. In my heart, I wish I could return, not as a teacher, but as a learner. I wish I could return and learn from the Indian people rather than try to change them.

I was so deeply moved by my experience tonight.

No comments: