By Jory Green
As soon as I arrived in Guatemala City, there was an immediately culture shock and you could see the stark contrast between Canada and our home for the next two weeks. It was noticeable right away that the people of Guatemala had little trust in the army or the police force who are generally seen in Canada as protectors of the law. It was astounding to see that such organizations aren’t recognized as respected organizations. As the trip progressed, we got more of an understanding as to why public security wasn’t available to the Guatemalan people. The previous army dictatorship that ran the country of Guatemala used brute force to bully their ideas into the people of Guatemala. Not only did they try and intimidate citizens they executed fellow citizens of Guatemala. This tyranny and control of the people have built up fear and dislike of organizations like the army or police force. Without the fair treatment from organizations like these the public security in Guatemala is little to none. People live in fear as to not be stopped or come across these organizations. What is taken for granted in Canada is not a thing in Guatemala? The Guatemalan people are forced to make decisions that could put themselves in trouble to enact change without the ability to feel safe. This allows the government of Guatemala to continue still to bully their people while also forcing laws and policies to move forward.
Without the ability for public safety, corruption plays a massive role in Guatemala. Without the backbone of public security, crime is used as a tool to oppress the people. Corruption in Guatemala isn’t just at the highest level, i.e., Government but also at the lowest level, i.e., police officers. Crime even at the smallest level effects the day to day lives of the people. Guatemalans have to deal with forced crime from police and army officials almost on a daily level. Which forces people into making choices either stand up and be arrested, beaten, tortured and or death or give in pay the money or debt owed and continue. This lack of opportunity that the people have intimidates people into making choices that go against there moral values and standards just because they want a normal life. The structure of not having the backbone of public safety allows for corruption to continue, but it also pushes away public security even further away from being a backbone.
Without public security and with the ability for corruption this makes the criminal justice system almost nonexistent. The lack of protection from the police and army allows the criminal justice system to be pushed around and manipulated for the people who are the oppressors to get away with crimes and atrocities. The people who are seen to be good citizens trying to make a change and stand up for the people of Guatemala are being pushed down in this system and being buried in a system that doesn’t allow them the ability to be prosecuted fairly. The prosecution of innocent civil rights leaders is pushing all these systems to act as one against the citizens of Guatemala.
The combination of these tactics allows for greater oppression on the Guatemalan people and builds a wall so big that change has to come from the breaking down of these systems and allowing the backbone of the country of Guatemala to be re-established. The civil rights leaders that are currently pushing the Guatemala government are under daily fear but continue to push forward because they love their people and their country. With this vision in mind, it allows these individuals to be energetic and drive for a better Guatemala.
To visit a country so different from Canada was very eye-opening for me. To see the hardships that these people go through on a daily bases is hard to grasp unless you go and experience it firsthand. To experience the courage of these civil rights leaders inspires not only I as a Canadian but also encourages fellow Guatemalans to stand up and make a change. The Guatemalan people that we came across are all working to a better Guatemala. They see the changes needed and they won’t stop until Guatemala is the Guatemala they want to see. Look out Guatemalan government because these leaders are coming and they will build a bigger better Guatemala, and there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t give the public safety, oppress them with corruption, prosecute them and take away their leaders because it doesn’t matter the people will keep creating more leaders, they will push back on corruption, and they will build the backbone of a better Guatemala.