This article from the Latin American Herald Tribune will shed some light on the dark days Guatemala is facing and two murders and mob vigilante justice that happened near us on our Mayan Hands tour.
As I return home, I find it deeply unsettling the abundant, indiscriminate violence that occurs in this part of Central America. On top of that, there is no functioning justice system.
Ergo, vigilante justice and mob violence erupt as a response to violent crime.
As travelers, we were always within the fold of our native guides, protected and well advised on what was safe. We could have been closer to these mobs described in the article. We were lucky not to have been.
Even so, I think about the weavers, the fieldworkers, the average people who live with this threat on a daily basis. Public transport is dangerous in Guatemala and most people depend upon it. The murders occurred on a public bus on the road from Solola to Panajachel. The murderers were later killed (burned to death) by a mob.
Let us not take peace and law and order for granted. In many parts of the world, they are in short supply.
What do you think? Have I glossed over this topic? Where does it fit into Fair Trade?
One reader suggested I had ignored this issue during the trip and my enthusiasm for the products of Mayan Hands. I have to say I needed some perspective on it to be write anything. it is now that I am home, I realize how it runs through all I can say about the trip and the people I met.
The issue of violence, corruption and lack of rule of law goes to the very heart of the work of Mayan Hands which provides secure income and empowerment training for people in the Highlands of Guatemala. If they can establish a balance in their lives that enables them to take leadership roles in their communities, maybe that tide will begin to turn.
Please tell me what you think about this important issue.