Guatemala is speaking to YOU

By Patricia Macías – EntreMundos Correspondent

Guatemala’s indignation and protests are not limited to the capital. In Xela, people are protesting with the same vigor. The demonstrations that began this past April have united students, families, indigenous leaders, businessmen and women, artists; people of all stripes and social stations are demanding justice and an end to corruption and impunity.


It was during these times that the collective Vos was formed. Its founders participated in the first demonstrations in Xela, on April 25th and May 16th, that brought around 5,000 to the streets. But it wasn’t until after the 12,000-person protest on May 30th that they created their Facebook page and jumped into public view as Vos (“You”).


Vos speaks directly to its fellow citizens. Its principal objective is to convince the sector of society that usually steers clear of politics to participate and to investigate what is really happening with public funds and their representatives.

"Guatemala needs YOU." Progressive President Jacobo Arbenz was Guatemala's second elected leader during its 10-year "democratic spring," which came to an end when a US-led coup returned the country to right-wing dictatorship in 1954.

“Guatemala needs YOU.” Progressive President Jacobo Arbenz was Guatemala’s second elected leader during its 10-year “democratic spring,” which came to an end when a US-led coup returned the country to right-wing dictatorship in 1954.

Before the creation of Vos, while its founders were part of #RenunciaYa, the business of one of the founders was intentionally set on fire on May 31st, less than 48 hours after the major May 30th demonstration in Xela’s central park. The jewelry and women’s fashion store Mandala, as well as the adjacent residence, suffered huge damages totaling Q12,000 (over $1,500). The act was reported to the police and to the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The attack left no one indifferent, and Tony, Mandala’s owner and founder of Vos, received warmth and solidarity from Guatemalans across the country, along with donations that ranged from Q5 (about 75 cents) from someone in Peten to Q3,000 (about $390) from someone in Xela to help with reconstruction. If the arsonists intended to intimidate young activists, they failed. Tony and his allies continue to demand a Guatemala that is better for everyone, including their attackers.


Since the arson, the activities created or promoted by Vos have continued normally. In addition to demonstrations, they are working on a political empowerment plan and are communicating with all kinds of social, political, and economic groups across the country. The debate between candidates for mayor that took place at the Minerva Temple next to the Market La Terminal was a major recent success. Quetzaltecos had the change to ask questions of the candidates and hear their responses in a public space open to all. More than 500 people and almost all local political parties were present.


Their current short-term plans, as of publication, are to work to postpone the elections planned for September 6th until reforms are passed and to mobilize participants for the massive nation-wide strikes of August 27th and 29th.


The identifying icon of Vos is the poster with an image of Arbenz pointing his pointer finger at the viewer, mimicking Uncle Sam. He says, It’s your turn to take a step forward, and to show that the people control the government and not the other way around.

Members of the Vos Collective demonstrate in Xela. Photo courtesy of Vos.

Members of the Vos Collective demonstrate in Xela. Photo courtesy of Vos.

The trajectory of collectives like Vos has just begun. The indignation in Guatemala is not fleeting, and this and future generations will thank them for their service.


En la portada esta el dios Chaac, que en la tradición maya enseñó al hombre a cultivar. El representa la conexiones que exploramos en este número: entre uso de agua y tierra, los seres humanos, los precios de la comida y la pobreza. Representa lo que unos saben y los que otros no: que lo que haces con el agua, se lo haces a la tierra, y que lo que le haces a la tierra, se lo haces al pueblo.