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Commemorate October 20 instead of September 15: Pseudo-independence vs the people’s revolution

By Carol Ixtabalán

This article is written partially based on the Forum “Guatemala: Independence of the monarchy, slavery of the oligarchy?” held on September 11 by the Convergence for Human Rights.

Independence Day… how nice to see the blue and white color waving on our raised flag! That patriotic feeling and pride of belonging to this country with 199 years of Independence is instilled in the school and preserving it as adults, it is seen as “normal” within society. As I like to say, we celebrate a pseudo-independence every September 15th.

A few days after the celebration of Independence Day for Guatemala, a discussion was held organized by the Convergence for Human Rights with the topic Independence of the Monarchy, slavery of the oligarchy? where the truth was briefly and clearly exposed after the almost bicentennial independence show.

To enter into context of what these years of Independence have meant, Iduvina Hernández, Sandra Xinico and Sandra Morán explain how the process of Independence was carried out when the descendants of Spaniards, those with wealth and assets in the country, wanted independence of the Spanish crown to stop paying tribute to it, continue to enrich itself based on new looting, theft and dispossession of land from the Native Peoples or Indigenous Peoples and enslave them.

These peoples suffered a long and cruel process for the Creoles to achieve their independence, they were the labor force, the enriching entities of the families in power, oppressed and deprived of their freedom. They suffered violence, kidnappings, disappearances, slavery and their material and cultural heritage was destroyed by the group of “conquerors” (a term festooned to hide the term “invaders”).

Hernández mentioned that a governance structure emerged from the events mentioned above. In his words: “we have been governed based on tax evasion, the continuous dispossession of wealth concentrated in the hands of a few and it is here where the definition of the word Oligarchy comes into force, a model of government that has already been sustained for a long time”.

In 1985 the Political Constitution of Guatemala was created, which establishes some spaces for democratic institutions. Iván Velásquez, former CICIG commissioner, cited article 118 of the Constitution, which establishes the responsibility of the State to guide the country’s economy and the equitable distribution of national income based on social justice; However, this is not accomplished by the interests of the power groups, who have little interest in the well-being of the Guatemalan population.

Velásquez also highlighted the issue of the capture of the State, and how the government stopped generating benefits for the general population through laws, policies, projects and programs, to benefit the interests of a few individuals. To give evidence of this, we can cite the prejudices that have been exposed and annulled in favor of the oligarchs that have control of the country, the policies and programs that arose from the pandemic that have not been created to benefit the population in times of crisis and that they have been control mechanisms in favor of the elite, thus avoiding the crisis. Those who are in crisis are us, as Hernández mentions: “Democratic stability is in crisis.”

In less than a month, Giammattei has eliminated the institutionality derived from the peace accords, processes have been initiated to cancel the structures that guarantee the validity of human rights, the presidential commission in charge of the executive’s policy on matters of human rights has been annulled. human rights, the presidential secretariat was canceled, and several other actions have taken place that put the position of the people at a disadvantage.

“Democratic stability is in crisis” – Iduvina Hernández

The prefix Pseudo, comes from the Greek ψεῦδο, which means “false”. Those who celebrate September 15 instead of commemorating October 20, celebrate a false independence, the majority of the population are subject to an oligarchic government, a government that benefits a few, the powerful and puts at a disadvantage the rest of the working class, that is, us, the majority. And if this majority depends on the laws and policies created by those few, can we really call ourselves independent?

Faced with so many obstacles that appear on the road to achieving democracy, Sandra Morán affirms that the people have a democracy that does not represent them, and that rather it has been a tool to maintain control of power. Weight to this, must be fought for that democracy of the few and be able to turn it into democracy for the people and its permanent establishment.

Just as in the past there was resistance on the part of the Native Peoples, students, workers, those who dreamed of a better country; we must continue the resistance today. A resistance that brings us closer to the democracy that we all want for our nation. A resistance like that of October 20 that generated a profound impact on Guatemalan society, which continues to bring benefits to the country to this day.

It has been 199 years since the signing of the independence act and 66 years since the October revolution was truncated. Since then, there has been no economic development other than that which resembles a farm, where the owner and the foreman indifferently command and oppress their workers. That is why we must resist and fight for the construction of a just and equitable country in favor of all of us, and commemorate October 20 instead of September 15.

“It is not a shame to defend democracy from social networks, we can do it from every space in which we find ourselves as long as there is a voice that is raised” – Iduvina Hernández.