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Monday, August 29, 2005

Two articles

Two items linked to on Sunday by Laura Rozen have got me thinking.

The first one is bad enough. Laura asks, "How Kansas is like Pakistan?"

A 14-year-old girl whose 22-year-old husband is charged with sexually assaulting a minor has given birth to their daughter, and the man said he plans to plead not guilty in the case.

The girl became pregnant when she was 13, and her mother gave permission in May for Matthew Koso to take her daughter to Kansas to marry.

Absolutely, Nebraska should be charging Koso with sexual assault of a minor. But why in the hell aren't they charging her parents with conspiracy? Jesus. What the fuck is wrong with these people (the parents, the "husband", Kansas, et alia)?

The other link was about Guatemala's war on women, and in this case I am not using hyperbole. While there are no pictures in the article, I still have to give a warning that the link contains graphic images.

Bodies are appearing at an average of two a day this year: 312 in the first five months, adding to the 1,500 females raped, tortured and murdered in the past four years.

This is out of a population of only 14.6 million (CIA World Factbook).

The article highlights the cases of three people: Manuela Sachaz, Maria Isabel Veliz, and Nancy Peralta (I was going to say women, however Maria was just a girl and Manuela little more), but pretty much any other three would have been just as horrific: rape, torture, murder.

Why is this happening? Just to be clear, the specific people who rape, torture and murder bear the guilt for specific acts; but where there is a culture in which this sort of thing happens with such regularity that Guatemala City is the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere "with a per-capita murder rate five times higher than even Bogota in war-torn Colombia," we need to step back and ask why has this culture developed?

The proximate responsibility falls right back on us: from the 50s when Guatemala was the quintessential Banana Republic, to the 80s when it became a proxy war in our campaign against the Soviets, to the present during "which last year alone imported an estimated 84[million] rounds of ammunition" (most sold by US arms manufacturers to fill the US arms we sold them earlier), we have meddled, we have twisted Guatemalan society to suit our short-term goals, and we have left others to pay the long term price. And yes, by and large, the people we put in power in the 80s are still there.

Yes, we did play a significant role in placing the people who support and encourage this culture in power, therefore we bear a portion of responsibility for their actions. "Efrian Rios Montt, the general accused of acts of genocide at the height of the war (charges famously dismissed by the former US president Ronald Reagan as a "bum rap"), subsequently stood for president" is a "'born again Christian' [whose] political comeback was supported by his good friend and spiritual advisor, the 'Rev.' Pat Robertson."

What are we doing to help? Jack saquat. Unless a Western Hemisphere government has a president whose last name is "Chavez" we don't pay attention.

For more resources, check out Amnesty International's Guatemala page.

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