Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rural Guatemala is Progressive Heaven

After a couple of days in Guatemala City, Alice and I flew to Isles de Flores and overnighted there, then went by mini-bus to the Mayan ruins at Tikal. Along the way we passed through several small villages, and I was struck how well they reflected the Progressives’ idea of “the way things ought to be.” For one, it was obvious that those things Progressives deplore had not reached rural Guatemala. There were no sweatshops to exploit their labor. In fact, there were no signs the insidious tentacles of Globalization had touched anywhere. Ubiquitous speed bumps annoyed tourists passing through, but there were no shops or restaurants or crafts displays to entice them to spend their Quetzales.

“What unadulterated purity!” I exclaimed, watching human Weed-Eaters™ trim high grass by the road with rhythmic swings of their machetes, pausing only to sharpen them. Then I observed two young boys carrying bundles of firewood up a steep trail. “Those boys are so lucky!” I thought. “They could be working in a sweatshop, earning only $5 a day, but here they are out in the morning sun carrying firewood on their backs for several kilometers. Aren’t they lucky not to be exploited? And aren’t their parents lucky too, getting to spend every day not working for anything at all!”

I rejoiced further when I saw a slightly older boy carrying a large container of water. “He must be so happy he doesn’t have to work to help his family,” I surmised, as he wobbled along while the sun rose higher.

Because Globalization has already polluted Guatemala’s larger cities, per-capita gross domestic product is $5,400 per year, $100 more than China. While wood smoke permeates rural areas, the stench of diesel prevails in the cities; the first denotes abject poverty, the other economic progress.

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