I went back to Antigua the following day to spend the weekend, and just so happened to be in the exact hotel at precisely the moment the President of Guatemala, Oscar Berger, welcomed the VP of Taiwan. I almost cried out for my cause, but alas, it did not seem the appropriate time nor place. So I let them walk right by me, but managed to get a picture. As any gringa tourist would do.
Monday I finally made my way to Rabinal and arrived 5 hours later. Not 4 hours, but 5. Every time I make this trip it seems to get longer and longer. This time the construction workers decided to work on my side of the road. I got to the Rabinal museum, which is somewhat my home base here, and met with Bert and Rolando.
Bert is from Belgium and has been living in Pacux, right outside Rabinal, for 6 years. Rolando is the coordinator for the dam-affected communities and will somewhat be my partner at work for the next few days, if not the next few weeks. Therefore being in contact with him is my entrance into the community.
The following day Rolando and I created a list of NGOs and governmental institutions that might have information on pre-dam and post-dam conditions, or any type of supporting documentation or photos that would aid us in our report.
We whisked around on Rolando’s motorcycle and spoke with many organizations, most of which could give us nothing. Either documentation was never taken or was lost, or documentation was burned out of fear. The latter seems to be a strong reason for many of the organizations.
The remainder of the week we went to different communities to meet with other NGOs, most of which had nothing to give us or tell us. There was one that seemed promising, and we will set up a meeting for future discussions. Amidst all this, we took some time off to see the Corpus Christi processions and the famous indigenous dances, and drank some chilate, a typical drink of these festivities, made from white corn and cocoa.
On Friday, Bert and I traveled to the distant communities of Agua Blanca and Colonia Rosario Italia to conduct some interviews and take photos. We also got to see Chixoy Dam, the cause of so much pain and heartache for some, and a saving grace for others. It was not as impressive as I had expected, and we barely managed to go through it for lack of permission.
But we finally convinced the guards to let us pass, saying we only wanted to buy fish on the other side and had to attend a meeting. Once on the other side, some community members pointed out to me the direction of their lost homeland, Río Negro, which was 40 minutes upstream by boat. To think that they were displaced so far away with almost no compensation seems incomprehensible. It makes me want to work even harder for their cause.
Posted By Carmen Morcos (Guatemala)
Posted Jun 16th, 2004