In April, a huge fraud by officials of the Tax Administration Service in collusion with senior level political leaders was uncovered. The close collaboration between the Public Ministry and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) led to dozens of people being brought to trial for corruption, including the Vice President. It raised a wave of indignation among citizens, which continues to grow.
In the midst of those events, Raúl e Cecilia Di Lascio from Argentina attended a meeting with local members of the Focolare community on the weekend of August 22-23. Raúl is an architect and Economy of Commuion business owner, and Cecilia is a member of the international commission of the Political Movement for Unity. During their discussions they delved into topics concerning politics and the economy in the light of the charism of unity.
Meeting during a period of such collective effervescence, transformed the moments of discussion among citizens of all ages and backgrounds an opportunity to be open to a field that is generally looked upon negatively. Chiara Lubich’s vision of politics when she founded the Political Movement for Unity: the great values that political action manifests when it is seen as service in favour of the common good. Looking at politics through the lens of fraternity, which liberates courageous and socially committed attitudes, filled the hopes of the participants, supported by the exchange of experiences that are currently underway in several parts of the world.
In the days that followed Guatemalan society held a mass protest demanding the resignation of the President – also requested by Catholic and other Christian church leaders – after connections to corruption were uncovered.
Many businesses, schools and universities closed in order to allow people to take part in the protests, including the Mariapolis Centre and Fiore College. The large concentration of people in the Central Park of Guatemala became a solid mass: more than 100,000 people gathered in the time span of a day. Will states: “You can feel that there is a void in the heart of Guatemala that was not filled. We need to unite so that a change can come.”
The fact of so many people peacefully demonstrating did not go unappreciated: “The nice thing is that even businesses closed, in order to allow people to take part in the demonstrations. As a Guatemalan I trembled as we cried ‘Guatemala, Guatemala’ or sang the national anthem.” Lina, a teacher states: “I saw a new sense of responsibility. We don’t want to allow the opportunity to change things, to pass us by, knowing that this time it’s possible.”
For many it was encouraging to see entire families who were not afraid to bring along their children. “Rich families and poor families together,” Sandra remarks, “indigenous peoples, young people, children and adults – all of them together, and students prepared to resist violence in order to reach the common goal!” the goal that Alex calls: “a better country.”
The latest news is that the President of the Republic lost immunity and resigned “for the good of society” and is now under arrest. On September 6 citizens will be invited to the election booths and all indications are that things will unfold in a peaceful and democratic way.
By Filippo Casabianca, Guatemala City