Guatemala: The Government Plan

By Carolina Vásquez Araya on April 4, 2021

Guatemalans waiting to be vaccinated. Photo: Daniel Hernandez-Salazar

To corner the population as Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei does, and to create artificial chaos in the administering of the few vaccines available because, despite having the resources, the State has been unable to provide them. It does not seem to be bad management of the situation but a skillful strategy, designed to allow the ruler to continue enriching himself at the expense of the lives of his fellow citizens and, at the same time, to pay the debt to his campaign financiers. In recent days there have been images of hundreds of older people standing in line for more than 6 or 8 hours, under intense cold, to have access to the first dose. Frustrated and hurt by such treatment, many have returned home without vaccination and without explanation.

These images have shocked society -although it has not responded to such abuse- they have convinced the population of the ineffectiveness of the State in the development of the vaccination plans presented by the Ministry of Health of the country.

However, think wrong and you will be right: the real objective of the chaos is to pave the way for the administrating of the vaccines to come from the private sector, whose most conspicuous representatives are already rubbing their hands together as they see how this can be turned into a lucrative business.

In his 14 months in office Giammattei, has been a living example of the most abject servant to the organized business sector, from where the most tortuous paths are outlined to turn the country into institutional dispossession, lacking legal certainty and in the hands of an improvised and corrupt bureaucracy. With the pandemic in full swing and without health safeguards or support for the most affected sectors, the permanence of the President in such a responsible position is inconceivable. His actions during the past year have revealed his total disconnection with the national reality, but above all his ironclad commitment to those who continue, since colonial times, to seize all the national wealth.

However, he has not been the only one to do everything possible to give away state resources to the private sector. This kind of plundering had already been successfully perpetrated, privatizing as many public services as the businessmen wanted: the airline, telephone, energy distribution, state banking, railroads… All these resources -or at least those that survived- went from “state inefficiency” to an expensive, inefficient and monopolistic service provision, which did not mean any benefit for the population either.

Attributing to the current administration all the problems affecting the citizenry is not entirely fair. In Guatemala, the sequence of rulers has been fatal since the return to the democratic system; and the legislative traps -with the electoral and political parties’ law at the head- have prevented in an underhanded and accurate way the political participation from the very bases of society. Thanks to casuistic laws, every four years it is possible to observe the fair of opportunities for mediocre individuals, but loaded with resources provided by organized business and, recently, also by criminal organizations (drug trafficking and human trafficking), who govern from the shadows.

This is the reality of a failed state. Therefore, when the farce of the “inefficiency of the State” is imprinted in the collective conscience and thus paves the way for the further enrichment of the economic castes, the population, captive of lies and dispossession, is once again stabbed, while the repetition of lies ends up convincing the people. 

Source: El Quinto Patio, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano-English