Saturday, January 12, 2008 Guatemala's gruesome cleansing of the streets Guatemala's gruesome cleansing of the streets:
A recent nationwide survey indicated Guatemalans support the concept of social cleansing in overwhelming numbers - nearly 80 per cent.

Of course. How could it be otherwise?


jj mollo said...

I have read that there is no reason for this sort of thing to happen. There is enough food to go around; it's just a problem of distribution. But if people have absolutely nothing, how can they become a part of the economic system? If people have no place to live, how can they become part of the social system? People who have damn little are forced to defend themselves from people who have nothing. It's grim.

I'm reading a book by Hernando DeSoto about the land takeovers in Peru by cooperatives of poor people. He says that the whole society is screwed up because the government has an interest in making everything difficult to do. That way, it's easier to collect bribes in order to facilitate any kind of property transfer or business development. It's kind of like building a river so that you can collect tolls on the bridges that people will have to build.

So anyway, these cooperatives get together and establish mini-governments and then just move into a defensible piece of underutilized land without anyone's permission at all. Everybody works together to divvy up the land and build structures. DeSoto says they are actually paying rent of a sort, because they have to be constantly present to defend their shacks and their space, so its still hard for them to get a job. He says that a lot of times, it's actually a way that the owner can sell the land without going through the government. Very interesting.

I was just wondering what the land story was in Guatemala. Are there any kind of poor people's unions other than gangs? Is there a similar land invasion phenomenon?

Steve said...

Yes, there have been such squatting episodes. Squatters are called invasores. My sister thought she had a major problem with invasores a couple of years ago, but it turned out to be a problem with the land survey, and people (a group of war veterans and their families) had legitimately moved onto land granted them by the government.

Guatemala has started to have some starvation in certain parts of the country, but to my way of thinking, that's just a sad side effect, not a problem of food distribution.