Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Guatemalan embrace of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Former Guatemalan President
Jorge Serrano Elías
In recognition of the celebration of the life of Rev. Martin Luther King, and the 
remembrance of his “I Have a Dream” address, former Guatemalan president Jorge Serrano Elías, with his own checkered past of constitutional violations while in office, (‘Google’ his name for more information on his life and presidency) posted a Guatemalan version of Dr. King’s famous speech to social media. I can’t endorse Mr. Serrano (or his ghost writers) given the fact that, as of this writing, he lives in Costa Rica, resisting extradition back to Guatemala to stand trial for corruption. I can however, endorse the spirit of this celebration of historic words that changed a country forever. Looking at them again, now, after 53 years - and in a Guatemalan context, we are challenged to dream of the possibilities for Guatemala, our country of service, as well as reminding us of how far our country of origin, the U.S. has come in these 50+ years, and how more recent events remind us of how far we still have to go. I hope you enjoy it.

50 years ago, in the most powerful country in the world, a leader of the African American community, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., shared his community’s dreams and inspired the whole nation to fight and defeat a structure of oppression that seemed invincible, that oppressed an entire people, denied their fundamental human rights and fundamental civil rights.

Guatemalan brothers and sisters, inspired by that example, I invite you to dream…

We dream that our children can walk the streets and roads of our country without fear of being killed, robbed or raped and to get on a bus without risk of death. Let us dream that we can go to court and find justice without bribes or coercion, and that it be the same for everyone, no matter how poor or powerful the person who seeks it.

Let us dream that hospitals find answers to our ills and medicines to cure them; that our children will no longer die due to the state's negligence in not preventing disease and for neglecting the environment of misery in which the poor live.

We dream that our children will have schools and educational opportunities, so that they can enjoy access to a dignified life and join in the conscious participation of the development of our country and its ethnic groups.

Let us dream that those who make the laws do so with the needs of the people in mind and not only the interests of the powerful.

Let us dream that the wealth of our country will have a better fate than to find its way to Miami or European bank accounts; and that rather it will serve to provide employment to the needy, to meet the needs of every household, to enable a dignified life for every Guatemalan, and finally serve to banish once and for all, the extreme poverty and misery that shames and dishonors us.

Let us dream that looting and corruption by the state and the exploitation of the poor and the trafficking of drugs, people and arms, with all that it implies, will disappear from our land simply because Guatemalans want progress, but not at the expense of our moral degradation.

We dream that our sisters and brothers will not have to emigrate; risking their lives and living inhuman tragedies, in a quest to seek security and opportunities denied them their own homeland.

Let us dream that cultural differences will never again be cause for discrimination against indigenous peoples and ethnic groups; and who can finally live in justice and peace, respecting and enjoying, orderly and judiciously, the resources God has given us.

Let us dream that we will protect the environment, aware that this is the space in which we, our children, our grandchildren and future generations will live; so their conservation and recovery represents an inescapable responsibility, especially with the generations who come after us.

Let us dream that, with the work of all, Guatemalan goodwill oriented in love, we can overcome these problems and above all, restore the good name that our country deserves but has been lost in the community of nations.

Dreams like these, that seemed impossible in the United States 50 years ago, became a reality for a people's faith in a God who was always the guarantor of their freedom, and the inspiration of men of faith like Martin Luther King, who made it possible for the nation to break those barriers and come to true brotherhood between black and white, giving the key steps towards achieving those dreams.

The people of Guatemala have faith in God and understand that to overcome the hatred, resentment and selfishness that oppress and denigrates us is fundamental for solidarity and brotherly love, understanding between rich and poor, as well as between all ethnicities and nations, and between practitioners of the different faiths that are practiced in our country, and to preach the love and the fear of God.
Protesters demonstrating against government corruption.
"Yes, we have the right to dream"

The blessings of a new hope for the future to you all!
Debbie and Richard Welch
PC(USA) Mission Co-workers, Guatemala

1 comment:

  1. Let us dream that those who make the laws do so with the needs of the people in mind and not only the interests of the powerful.
    That is a worthy dream everywhere. I hope there are some actual changes that make it possible.