Source: The Nation
Conceived without the participation of civil-society groups, the chief goal is to advance elite US and Northern Triangle business interests.
t took a few tries before the taxi driver taking me to meet Lorena Cabnal found his way to her address. We drove up and down streets along the outskirts of Guatemala City, directions made confusing by the profusion of closed-off neighborhoods. Here, residents simply block streets and put up barriers to prevent cars from circulating, paying a guard to monitor who goes in and out. These aren’t the private gated communities of the rich, but rather survival strategies of the poor and working class in Central America’s largest metropolis. I
Finally, we found Cabnal’s apartment, and I called up to where she was staying. I was buzzed in and climbed a flight of stairs, where I waited on a modest loveseat in the narrow entryway. A lit candle burned beside a printed photograph of murdered Honduran activist Berta Cáceres.
Cabnal is a Maya-Xinca woman who considers herself a communitarian feminist. She works with a network of healers in Guatemala, and she lives in this unlikely location, far from the buzzing core of activism in downtown Guatemala City, for her own protection after threats related to her political activism.
“It’s not true that in [Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador] there has been an economic stimulus that has developed and strengthened education, health, and infrastructure,” said Cabnal, looking at me from behind thick framed glasses. “Quite the contrary: Impoverishment has gotten worse, and the big security problems haven’t been resolved.”
In addition to performing traditional healing work for activists and others seeking aid, Cabnal works to support political prisoners in Guatemala, most of them incarcerated because of their role in land defense. Today, she’s speaking out against the Alliance for Prosperity, a new US-backed aid program that is supposed to stem the flow of migrants from Central America toward the north.