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U.S. is ‘a dream of hope and opportunity’

DISCUSSIONS | June 05, 2006

Dina Fernandez Garcia, Guatemala

2003 Nieman fellow; columnist for Prensa Libre in Guatemala and La Hora in Ecuador

Guatemala is a place where many realities collide or live side by side. The fact is, there are more than one million Guatemalans living in the United States, and every day there are hundreds of them trying to cross the American border, no matter how dangerous it gets or what sacrifices the journey entails. Those numbers prove that for the Guatemalan poor, who are the vast majority of the country, the United States still represents a dream of hope and opportunity, the possibility of a better life.

In the minds of the rich, the perception is also as healthy as ever: not only do they have a condo or a beach house in Miami, now, as business grows global, some of them are moving their offices to Florida. However,  this does not  mean that Uncle Sam’s image has not suffered from 9/11 and the Bush administration. We have not polled the Iraq war lately, but at the beginning of it, 90% of the public here was against it. I presume the perception against it is even higher now.

Liberal intellectuals all over Latin America have been, by tradition, anti-Yankee, but now George Bush’s personality and his particular style of leadership have become an international joke and Guatemala is no exception to it.

During the Labor Day marches of May 1st, there was, as always, some American flag-burning in our streets and some protest against free trade agreements and anti-immigration laws. If you had been here for the same march ten years ago, you would have probably seen the same attitude against the United States government, among roughly the same crowd.  However, I do think that the Bush regime has made the political center more critical of American politicians and the common folk more suspicious of the United States.

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