This Photo Is Black And White, But Issues Usually Aren’t


A shot from the hill above town.  The man on the left is taking his kids to church.  After church today, there is a vote on a referendum to take a bunch of land from Belize.  Or to take a bunch of land back from Belize, or to start the process of negotiating the status of a bunch of land claimed by both countries.  One of the promises the current president and former TV personality Jimmy Morales made during his campaign two years ago was to make Belize part of Guatemala again.  The dispute dates to the 18th century, and really has more to do with Spain and Britain than it does with the indigenous people.  I read an article in La Prensa yesterday about families living astride the border with no conflict at all, even having a football field symbolically straddling the imaginary line.  I also heard a story about people being killed on the border when their animals strayed across and grazed in the wrong country.  I don’t think anyone really knows what will happen if the referendum passes.  The thing is, if less than 50% show up for any vote in Guatemala, the results are invalidated.  That is likely to be the case today.  From what I hear, there isn’t much interest.  This may be a good thing.  Just let it ride until more thought has been put into resolving it.  Coming from a country where most primaries are decided by 25% of voters, and most local elections even less, I like the idea of requiring a 50% turnout a whole lot better than, for instance, allowing 12% of the population to choose who draws district lines.  The less people participate, the more black and white it becomes, with only the extremes fighting for control.