Rosa: Occupy Panajachel

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New beginnings, death and controversy swirled around the Muni during January.
No, nobody has stepped forward to “Occupy” Panajachel, yet, but, that may only be because it is difficult to get around with all the public works in progress. Massive projects began weeks before the new mayor was due to be inaugurated. Four foot deep trenches were dug… everywhere.
“Why this sudden spate of civic improvement?” you might ask. “Was the City now all about laying the sewage plant infrastructure?”
The reason for immediate action is really quite simple: after losing his bid for reelection, the old mayor snagged an up-front cut on pending projects and the new mayor will have pay for them. For the longest while, one of the two roads was so torn up it became impossible to avoid passing the wreck of a popular musician that sat for weeks in front of City Hall. I thought that the Muni was displaying the mournful carcass as a proverbial “grim reminder” for foolish drivers. But, the reason for leaving the flower covered vehicle was far, far simpler: the salvage crew was otherwise engaged. One afternoon, they came swinging welcome hammers striking bouquets, steel and grief.
Down the street, the Ann Cameron Library was clear of horrible displays and obstructions but it was booked until after the New Year. The schedule delayed Rosa Garcia and me from getting our twenty kids their library cards. (When school vacation began in November Rosa had invited me up to Patanatic to teach English to young students. Since then they have learned very little English but they seem to like playing chess on my computer and reading el Mundo Sports on the Kindle. What they fight for most is the MP3 with Spanish lessons downloaded from the University of Mexico (UNAM). Pairs share an earphone each and listen to topics like “Bio-imitation,” “Bacterias” and “The Theory of Natural Selection.” Some tell me that they understand these college level concepts. Best is that they all like to visit the library. The younger ones play in a dedicated area and the others take books from the shelves and settle down to read – like the older kids.
Los encapuchados Panajachel (the vigilantes) made news, again. Maybe for the last time in a while. When last we tuned in, “Jefe’s” supporters had set up bar-b-ques and were feebly attempting to fund raise in front of City Hall. (Remember, “Jefe” was the jerk, who threatened the journalist on YouTube and who was also the owner of the twice burnt “NIHGT CLUB” (sic). In the last days of this month, troops from the Capital rode through Jucanya filling up their Black Mariahs with men that “Jefe” must have denounced… There were supposed to be only four arrests but people said that sixteen prisoners were taken including the ex-mayor. “Jefe’s” loyalists responded to the crisp police presence by burning tires and closing both ends of the road to Jucanya. News of a “national emergency” spread fast and it wasn’t until late afternoon that the story came out.
I looked at the quiet street and while I waited to hear if the road was opened, I quaffed a leisurely bowl of shrimp dreaming of coconut milk. I was ensconced at the new and utterly fabulous Vietnamese Mayan Fusion place, ToBE.

All is well in Panajachel.

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Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

9 thoughts on “Rosa: Occupy Panajachel”

  1. Great article. We need to have a NEWSPAPER in Pana with your blog as the front cover story each week! One question. You wrote:

    “the Ann Cameron Library was clear of horrible displays and obstructions but it was booked until after the New Year.”

    Do you mean the library was “closed?” How was it “booked?” It’s so great that you took the children to get library cards, and that the library was built and donated here in Pana. It’s a great place to be.

  2. Schools and other groups had Library reserved space so we had a month wait to get our kids in to meet with the Librarian and learn the rules, etc.. Yes Ann Cameron was very instrumental in getting books and staffing for the Library… After about a year, the Muni took over..

      1. A comment from anonymous reader:
        A couple of details. There was a library in Panajachel from 1927, without much in it. Starting 1993 “people” (names protected) worked to improve the library after it reopened after 11 years closed during the guerrilla war. The library grew from about 20 useful books to 8,000. It was burned (arson) destroying all books, November 2000. Perpetrators unknown but there are some good guesses. People of Panajachel brought books from their homes so that a week after the fire a temporary library was open and running. A new library was built by the city and stocked by internertaional donations and the efforts of Lake Atitlan Libraries, a Wisconson NGO. In 2005 a new mayor decided to fire the trained staff to put his own untrained cronies in charge. They are not doing badly, but large international donations have ceased.

        In the case of the blockading of the entrance to town. The blockaders were the local population supporting the patrollers being arrested and preventing the arrests of more. On the other side were the police, the “fiscales” government prosecutors, and Montejo, paying them off.

      2. What a terrible story about the library and it’s deliberate but not quite disastrous chain of events. It’s a miracle it has survived. Thanks to all the good people who helped make this happen.

        In the second part, someone wrote:

        “In the case of the blockading of the entrance to town. The blockaders were the local population supporting the patrollers being arrested and preventing the arrests of more. On the other side were the police, the “fiscales” government prosecutors, and Montejo, paying them off.”

        Montejo was paying off the police and the prosecutors? Who is Montejo and what was his role in all this?

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