Well, here we go again… Just last week, former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was convicted of genocide – a watershed moment for Guatemala, for Central America, and for the world at large. But this being Guatemala, the story is never really quite over.
On Monday, Guatemala’s top court overturned the genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and ordered on Monday that his trial restart, so it looks like we’re back at the beginning once again.
As I prepare for my departure in exactly one week, this trial has continuously reminded me of both the potentials and challenges that lie in Guatemala’s immediate future. In many ways, the country has come a long way since its Civil War, and it’s an exciting time for me to throw my hat in the ring and contribute to a change-making, inspiring organization like the one I will be working with. Yet at the same time, my (just completed!) Berkeley education reminds me that the healthy dose of cynicism I’ve developed over these past four years didn’t come out of nowhere. Especially in a country like Guatemala, change is going to continue to be frustratingly slow and full of road-blocks, no matter how many “do-gooder” people or organizations are present to help push that change forward. The challenge, then, is learning to balance that cynicism with both hope and realism and respecting the country’s limits along with its opportunities. It won’t be easy, but I’m eager to get started!