Carmen Morcos (Guatemala)

Carmen Morcos (Rights Action and ADIVIMA, Guatemala): Carmen graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2000 with a B.S. in Finance. She then worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Dispute Analysis & Investigations Group for almost three years. At the time of her fellowship, Carmen was pursuing a joint degree at Georgetown university – a Master of Science in Foreign Service and an MBA with a concentration in international development in Latin America.

Truly Guatemalan

15 Jul

Finally my time has come…I have amoebas. Parasites. Whatever you would like to call them.

A true sign that I am truly in Guatemala and experiencing the full extent of what this wonderful country has to offer, even its nasty buggers. I told my friends here and they all laughed and said “Join the club!” It happens to every foreigner who comes, and even to the locals who live here. No getting around it.

I went to the doctor and had all kinds of exams. Took medicine, still taking more medicine. Not sure if I’ve killed them all, but the doctor said I’ve lost my good defensive bacteria (the parasite medicine probably eliminated it all) and my colon is infected and my digestive system is all screwed up.

It’s not fatal, so I don’t think I’ll die, and I am not in constant pain. Just some discomfort and a little pain at times. But at this point, I’ll just deal with it and get a full check up when I get back to the States.

Back to work topics. After out meeting in San Antonio Panec, Rolando and I traveled to the capital to have a meeting with Annie and Iñaki concerning the agenda for the next month and the goals we hope to achieve. We also met with Arnulfo, who has been working on the land study. He and Diego had made some corrections to the map showing all the dam-affected communities, but still with many errors. So Rolando and I went through it in detail with him and made corrections. We are still in the process of completing the map. I never thought it would take so long.

Now we are adding more affected communities that we have not had contact with, but have found out that they were affected in some way or another. We will eventually have to travel there and speak with them directly and conduct more interviews. There are certain communities that did not suffer directly from the construction of the dam in terms of lack of water per se, but suffered culturally.

For example, after construction of the dam, the community of Los Pajales lost passage back to Rabinal, which was their cultural tie and where they came to the market and sold their fruits and vegetables. Now they have to travel to a different community with which they hold no cultural identity, who speak a different language and where they have no family.

In our list of things to do, we are going to start making a concrete list of violations suffered by each community, as well as their needs. Right now there is so much information all spread out in different reports, different books, different institutions. We need to coordinate it all and create a simple list that one can look at clearly and definitively.

We will also be making further journeys to different institutions in different communities to gather more information and statistics that can support our report. All this we hope to have completed by our next meeting on August 7th, which will be my last meeting before I head home.

Right now, as I write this blog, 7 members of our dam-affected communities are in El Salvador at a MesoAmerica conference on dam-affected communities. It is a forum which is bringing together over 300 people who have already been affected by the construction of a dam, or will soon be affected by one and are fighting it.

I, unfortunately, was not able to go, as my parents are here, but will be waiting for the information the community members bring back to us. That is not even the most important element of this conference. What is most important is to expose our communities to others who are going through the same struggle, to allow them an opportunity to meet others in the same situation as well as share their stories. They were all very excited to be going and met in the capital for a meeting prior to their departure. They wanted to prepare themselves with maps and charts in case they were able to give a presentation of their case.

This past weekend I missed the second “muestra de ropa” which was the “exposition of clothes” of the victims that were found in the exhumation well in Pacux. A total of 74 corpses were recovered, 73 of them men, 1 woman and 1 dog. Many of the victims still wore clothes, which were taken off the bodies and then laid out in the community gym for people to come and see whether they recognized any of them.

In the first showing, 22 people recognized clothes of their husbands, brothers or sons, and in this second showing 14 people recognized clothes. To think that people still remember what clothes their family members were wearing the day they were massacred is remarkable. It goes to show that it seems like yesterday for these people.

Posted By Carmen Morcos (Guatemala)

Posted Jul 15th, 2004

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