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Published: July 14th 2008
Here we are again in a city!!!!!
Huehuetenango... It's so off the beaten track that it's not even listed in the region list of travelblog!
And this is the city, we were HOURS away from here in the most remote villages of the Huehuetenango-region.
Let's say it's "le trou du cul du monde".
But it was a VERY interesting experience, living with the local indigenas, just as indigenas, with NO tourist facility.
It's in these very villages that Nadja worked as a volunteer for 3 months. And now we were back for our trip, with some presents of chocolate from Belgium and a few pictures that Nadja took before. We were very welcomed by them , it was a very touching time.
But let's go back in time a bit...and let me give you a bit of comment on what happened before and about the pictures you can see on the blog.
I posted 1 picture of the entrance of the secret police archive and one from inside. We had a full day to visit this archive and see all the work they are doing to try to restore all the documents they rediscovered by chance. A lot is
related to the civil war and the massacres that happened here in Guatemala. They concentrate their work on the roughest period of the 80's.
Next, an odd little thing: In the rich neighborhood of the capital there is the Plaza Berlin, with some real pieces of the old Berlin Wall!!
Then 3 pictures taken on the main plaza of the capital. The little boy just polished Nadja's shoes. Yes we are also using child labour. In the west we are very contra-child-labour. But it is such a complex issue. Without child labour, a lot of families would simply have too little income too survive. Here for example, this little boy comes from a very poor area outside the city with his father. His father is selling sweets and other stuff on the main plaza while he is polishing shoes. In the rural areas we saw many times how the young boys go to help on the fields with their fathers and they DO work very hard. The girls also help a lot at home. Basically at the youngest age they can already cook, mind the babies, and do all the things that have to be done.
this, a lot of girls get married and get pregnant very soon, as early as 13 sometimes!!!!
Now also you can see some exploitation in this too, parent's can get lazy and work only half days, Mother-in-laws who rely entirely on their daughters in law to do ALL the tasks in the house. You see, it's a complex issue.
This bring us to the next point, the maquiladoras. Factories which are also called "carcel de mujeres", prison of women.
We encountered a group of women who were dismissed "en masse" from a maquiladora. In this case, a Korean owned clothing factory. They were dismissed without ANY notice, payment of their last salary, not to speak of any legal benefits, etc… Now they organized themselves in some kind of active-group-union and wanted to meet the Manager of the factory. So we went with them to the factory-union (like FEB in Belgium) And yes they got to meet somebody. We don't know if it is our presence that influenced this, but we could enter to have a talk. Then they even got an appointment with the Manager of their former factory. But then we saw the lack of organization/education of these
women: They arrived almost an hour late at this very meeting, without the necessary paperwork. So, obviously, the Manager already left, and we were lucky enough to meet somebody in the doorway who was leaving...
He said the negotiation could go on but that now everybody left...
Now last week was also the first hearing at the tribunal in their case, and the only thing the company proposes is to pay 50% of their worked hours...nothing more. Maybe already a lost battle, we'll, we keep in touch with them.
We also visited the homes of some of these women, most single mothers living with their parents. They live in very poor conditions in remote areas of town. And although they have almost nothing, as they have no more incomes, they always were very welcoming to us and INSISTED to offer us bus-fares, a drink and some food!!!
And this brings us now to our last 2 weeks in Huehuetenango.
As usual, most photos were taken with the "big" camera, on some here you can even see me at work, but at least here you'll see a few people we met and a bit of the landscape. We were in
extremely wonderful landscapes, but UNFORTUNATELY it was almost always very cloudy and foggy. So we have very few pictures of landscapes. But as I said we lived with the locals, so we have a ton of pictures of them and their homes and activities.
You can also see some pictures taken by Isabelle a very nice girl, getting her first photography course....
And last but not least, Nadja is developing more and more of some strange ITCHY-skin disease, maybe an extremely rare-potent-parasite from the deep jungles of El Peten... ???????????
Kisses to all
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