The Guatemala Times released Our take on the Colom Presidency yesterday. There’s a lot of good stuff. President Colom has gotten bad press his entire term in office. Some of it is obviously deserved. However, much of it seems to be politically motivated and it's only gotten worse over the last few weeks. I use the term courageous to describe The Guatemala Times' position because what they say is dangerous and I am sure that they know it.
Guatemala’s mainstream media is owned by the status quo and defends the status quo. President Colom was always seen as a threat to the powers of Guatemala – a socialist, in the minds of the Guatemalan right - wingers that is considered the same as communist, guerilla, terrorist, anti- establishment, a menace to their power structure. He is not one of “them”, he must be the enemy.
Anyone who has the illusion that in Guatemala the President elect is the real power is a fool. The power behind the power is and always has been the Guatemalan elite, much the same as in the US, where President Obama has not been able to do anything of what he promised, because it is not convenient for the big money. It is a “moneycracy” not a democracy. Money rules, not the people.
Now the Guatemalan media smells blood and they must endear themselves to the newly elected government of Otto Perez. They are getting bolder and bolder, more offensive and disrespectful as the Presidency of Colom is coming to its end.
There seems to be several factors at play in the media’s coverage of Colom. One line seeks to connect him to the guerrillas and tends to argue that this is what happens when you elect a leftist of someone closely aligned with the guerrillas to the presidency. I get the impression that they don’t just want to take down Colom, but they want to undermine social democracy and the political left in Guatemala. This can be seen by both the media’s coverage of Colom as well as the legal actions brought against former guerrillas and peace activists for crimes committed during the civil war. While the guerrillas did some nasty things, what they did pales in comparison to what the Guatemalan armed forces and government did.
Yesterday’s story about a lawsuit brought against Colom for failing to extend CICIG’s mandate looks like it might be designed to discredit him as well. In 2010, it was thought that the Congress did not need to vote to extend CICIG’s mandate. Putting my conspiracy hat on, it is possible that the media, the elite, and members of the incoming administration do not want CICIG’s mandate extended and this is a way for them to get out of the country’s relationship with CICIG while blaming Colom. I’m not sure of this one, but stranger things have happened. We already know that the lawsuits against Claudia Paz y Paz was politically motivated and likely designed to get her to stop civil war investigations. It’s not that far-fetched to believe that this lawsuit is politically motivated as well.
Finally, the media’s brutal coverage of Colom’s last few weeks already has the effect of causing the people to look towards Otto Perez Molina as the country’s savior. I haven’t read one piece that questions statistics on the country’s murder rate. What explains why two years of reduced murders have led to a rising sense of insecurity amongst Guatemalans? Are the authorities not counting correctly? If murders are not the best way to measure criminal violence, how can we produce statistics that better reflect the situation in which Guatemala finds itself? Has there been any of that? No. They just report the decline and then repeat how Colom has done nothing to improve the security situation in the country.
You should definitely read the whole piece.