My wife & I have just returned from a month-long trip through southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. As usual it was less a vacation than a La Ruta Maya Technicolor obstacle course filled with moments of both euphoria and deep sadness.
On the bright side, the Zapatistas (EZLN) have established six autonomous zones, where the Mexican government is busy building new power lines, schools, sewage and water systems. Despite having fired only a few shots during their 1994 siege of five Chiapas municipalities in response to the implementation of NAFTA, the EZLN’s well-articulated and cogent critique of neo-liberal international capitalism has paid real dividends.
Their message resonated with the entire world, as they retreated back into the Lacondon jungle. After the massacre at Ocosingo by the Mexican military left over 80 dead, global public opinion solidified behind the mostly indigenous rebels, forcing the passage of the San Andreas Accords.
On the other hand the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (UNRG), which came into being after the CIA coup against nationalist Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954 on behalf of United Fruit (now Chiquita), operated in the northern Guatemala highlands for four decades, fighting a protracted guerilla war against the infamous “seven families” who own over 80 % of the country’s arable land.
In 1996 the largely Mayan rebels signed a peace accord with the Guatemalan government. Yet twenty years later, the same oligarchy remains firmly in place while most Guatemaltecos seem more impoverished than ever. President Otto Perez Molina is a graduate of the US death squad incubator School of the Americas, served in the infamously brutal Israeli-trained Kaibiles and was Director of Military Intelligence. He also controls the country’s largest brewery – Gallo.
Paralleling the grinding poverty and huge income disparity has been severe pollution of Guatemala’s formerly pristine lakes and rivers. Even Lago Atitlan, once a paradise of Kachikel and Tzutzil tribes and a few Western hippies, is now so contaminated that the fish are not eaten.
But there are rumblings anew in Guatemala. The Vice-President was forced out on corruption charges while we were there, protests are mounting around a “manifestation” movement which aims its demands squarely at the oligarchs and Volcan Fuego is rumbling. With 38% of Guatemalans under the age of 14, something has got to give.
Belize remains a drugs transshipment hub for the British Crown. Chinese Triad families, loyal to the Crown via their Freemason Opium War history, own most of the businesses along with a smattering of equally crooked Brahmins from East India. Expatriates continue to buy land, Mennonites produce most of the food and the Maya, Creole and Garifuna do the work and barely make ends meet.
The government has received Petro Caribe funds from Venezuela, an initiative to help the region begun by the late President Hugo Chavez, but the money is often squandered amongst the corrupt drug gang that seems to run Belize, which until 1981 was known as British Honduras. Queen Elizabeth is depicted on all denominations of the Belize Dollar.
We began our loop from Cancun, so returned to Mexico via Chetumal. People in the Yucatan seem better off than before, but the environmental crisis has not spared the Mayan Riviera. The beaches all the way from Cancun down to Tulum were being overtaken by seaweed after years of raw sewage being pumped into the Caribbean.
We met some inspiring people along the way, experienced excellent cuisine and were blessed to be amongst the wonderful Mayan people for a month. But the poverty, corruption and environmental destruction we witnessed will linger in our hearts and minds and cannot help but propel us back into battle here in our home in the belly of the beast.
They are killing the poor. They are killing Mother Earth.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com