Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A Dead-Man's Revolution

For all intents and purposes, Guatemala is a failed state and this is of no surprise given its chequered past. Until 1996 there was an ongoing war between left-wing guerillas and governing military dictators in which 200,000 died. As a result there was an influx of guns into the country. When peace arrived, drug-trafficking syndicates were being set-up across Central America and many of the former fighters turned to crime. Nowadays both crime and corruption pervade Guatemalan politics.

With a murder rate of nearly 50 per 100,000 Rodrigo Rosenberg should have simply have been another victim of the state but what the president Álvaro Colom did not expect was a posthumous indictment which was then given to the press. At first the president tried to fob the video off as a fake but when the video was verified, Colom turned to accusations of a right-wing plot.

Unsurprisingly there was a backlash against this with a protest outside the presidential palace in Guatemala City on 17th May. Protesters were also angry about suspected money laundering first suggested by Jean Anleu Fernández (@Jeanfer) on our very own Twitter. Thus, although a rival protest organised with public funds also took place, it was no match for those calling for Colom to step down.

Now the UN and FBI have got involved and will hopefully provide some justice for Mr Rosenberg's family. More importantly though his death must not be in vain. The fact those in political office cannot be prosecuted and that the army has now been given a greater role in quelling unrest must not deter those campaigning for what Colom once offered himself; good government and justice in Guatemala.