Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hope Reaches Guatemala: What Obama means to the Mayans

Dennis, over at Rhetorical Wasteland, has a thought provoking discussion about whether progressives should celebrate the Obama inauguration event on January 20, 2009. I tend to think his conclusion is spot on: we should not celebrate the man, so much, as the organizing that got him to where he is today.

At the same time, Obama is an exceptional person and has made a profound impact on not just U.S. history, but global history. Over at The Seditionist, a report from a Guatemalan Mayan village about the reactions of people there to the Obama victory. Xeni Jardin recounts:

"Despite many years visiting their homes and sharing their difficult life experiences, we were surprised by their reaction to the Obama election. It was of great symbolic importance. That sudden jolt of aspiration felt around the world? It struck here. Hard. It meant hope. It meant a renewed belief in change, for a people who have survived natural disasters, racism, and 36 years of civil war that many describe as the Mayan genocide. If a black man can enter the Casa Blanca, they are saying, maybe a Mayan person can one day become president of Guatemala. Maybe we will live to see a true democracy here, the thinking goes—a government that represents the rights of Guatemala’s First People, instead of representing their destruction."

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