Voices from Guatemala
Fernando, a licensed tour guide, is passionate about sharing Guatemala's history. He and his assistant led us to the historical sites of the City of Antigua and elaborated on the nuances of Holy Week. At our first meeting, he was quick to explain the credentials hanging from his neck that indicated he was, indeed, licensed by the Guatemalan government to act in this capacity. All "official" tour guides are licensed by the government.
With a degree of authority, they stopped traffic for our group to cross the street and kindly entertained any request from our group to adjust the itinerary. Both carried radios and were able to communicate with other official tour guides in the city.
As time went by and conversation became more casual, I was able to ask about Fernando's thoughts on the history of corruption and crime that Guatemala has endured. In a more quiet tone, Fernando reluctantly spoke of the tradition of governmental corruption, the ill effects on Guatemala's economy and the hopelessness felt by so many Guatemalans.
The current government of Alvaro Colom was no exception when it came to discussing corruption. His term as president will end in 2012, but his administration will continue on.
Guatemala's constitution forbids close relatives and the spouse of the president from being able to succeed him. Nonetheless, Colom's recent divorce from his third wife, Sandra Torres, will enable her to run in the next election. Torres has apparently played a large role behind the scenes during her husband's presidency and has already been named the governing-party candidate in next year's election. It is the expectation of Fernando, and others we spoke with, that she will win.
Among the rumors of corruption by the Colom administration, Fernando mentioned the past allegations that Colom and other high officials were responsible for the murder of Rodrigo Rosenberg. In fact, the Rosenberg case has been reported by Guatemalan newspapers as having created the greatest political crisis for Guatemala's democracy. Never before has a democratically elected president been accused of murder.
I remembered reading about this widely publicized case in the Prensa Libre. In May 2009, Rosenberg, a Guatemalan lawyer and father of four, was shot to death while riding his bicycle in Guatemala City. …