Part 1 / The Roots
A friend recently asked me: “What is your drive? What motivates you to take huge world problems so seriously? And more importantly, do you actually do something about it?” I’ll try to answer those questions in the next two columns. In the first one, the one you are reading now, I will talk about my roots, and in the second one you will find more about my personal story.
Picture this: Sunny days all year round at 25 + - 8 degrees, a piña colada or mojito (why not both?), laying on the beach, or perhaps swimming in one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Tropical fruits, partying, dancing every day for any reason. Exquisite food and deep passionate conversations… Perhaps you need a little Guatemala?
Guatemala, one of the twenty mega-diverse countries in the world with 7-10 percent of all living forms known to mankind. Access to the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean, and the cradle of the Mayan civilization who had a fully developed writing system, positional numeral system, a more accurate understanding of the solar system than Ptolemy’s. They also had created advanced water filtering systems, agriculture which included the domestication of corn, beans, and others… Then came the European invasion looking for gold, land and people to exploit.
Fast-forward 500 years, you’re an 11 year-old girl sitting in the inner garden of your house when you hear gun shots, 12… You run hoping your biggest fear is not happening, but you’re a girl in Guatemala, so life is not fair. Outside your house, your aunt, 24, Irma Yolanda Reyes is laying down. She has been executed by the Guatemalan government. Her crime? Being an outstanding law student who graduated to seek justice against the director of the police, responsible for the selective killing of university students, professors and others as part of the government's counter-insurgency strategy, trained and sponsored by the United States of America.
That girl is my mom. And just like her aunt, 250,000 people were killed (of which 50,000 were not even found, they just 'disappeared') in the 36 year long war which peaked with genocide and ended just in 1996.
The reasons? Three:
1) The curse of having too many resources.
2) Thinking those resources can be used to live in a happy and democratic society.
3) Forgetting the world is run by governments-corporations constituted in imperial structures of power.
And this is not new, corporations-states have historically worked hand in hand to enrich the 'owners of mankind' in the words of Adam Smith, without any intrinsic ethics. That is not new, take for example the Nazis and: BWM, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Ford, Chase, IBM…
And then, there’s you, a person who believes in democracy, justice and the possibility of a world where everyone can live happily and in peace. What to do?