This Thursday 8 November 2018, we will be welcoming Ross Eventon. He will give a guest lecture entitled: “Guatemala: Social Justice in the land of the Maya” in OC1.09 at 9.00am. Although this lecture is linked to the module GD313: Human Rights and Social Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean, the lecture is open to all GSD and LA students.
Guatemala is one of the poorest, most unequal societies in Latin America. For years it has competed with Haiti for the lowest place in the region on the Human Development Index. The legacy of a brutal civil war, which killed over 200,000 people, is still alive in the political system, rampant with corruption and dominated by business groups and the military. Activists and human rights defenders are murdered with impunity and imprisoned arbitrarily. The country's fabulous natural resources are exploited with little benefit for the population; almost every one of its five hundred rivers and rivulets are contaminated. Yet the government has debated elevating the "crime" of obstructing mining projects to "terrorism." The majority of Guatemalans are of indigenous descent, but political life remains the remit of the largely white or mestizo upper classes. Why has the struggle for social justice in Guatemala failed? What obstacles have prevented the unification of the indigenous population and the creation of a political apparatus that works in their interests? In this difficult scenario, what has been, and what can be, the role of international NGOs?