June 30th. Last day of the month. We learn that this day is a holiday because it is the day to celebrate the end of the civil war. Wuqu’Kawoq’s offices are closed. Would we be forced to rest?
… No, still too attached to our French/American calendars, we take advantage of this day to make our appointments and film two interviews!
At 10 am, we found Esperanza at home, not far from Tecpán. She explained that she was forced to move out of the city because she could not pay her rent of 1400 quetzales (around 175 euros). Her house was built in 1 month, it borders the great “Carratera Interamericana” which connects Mexico to Latin America, including through Guatemala. Sounds impressive, right? And yet, this “Carratera Interamericana” is just a part of the “Carratera Panamericana” that connects Alaska to Argentina over 48000 km long …
Esperanza is a teacher of home economics at “basico” level, that is at the high school level. She came from a low-income background but managed to climb the ladder thanks to various aids and opportunities that she was able to seize (grants, associative aids, loan, sponsorship by a couple living in the United States, …). She lives alone in this small home. Her brother, who lived next door, recently moved because he did not have enough money to pay for this place. She has (or had) a husband and a son who no longer live with her. She is a woman of character, educated and independent who stands in front of us, ready to answer our questions. For the occasion, she put on her traditional dress. She will changed after the interview because “it’s more convenient to walk in sneakers! “.
After 1.5 hours of interview and a coffee offered by our host, we gave ourselves a break to go to lunch in a restaurant nearby. Anxious to show us a maximum of things, Esperanza leads us through the Mayan communities behind her house. She stops in front of a huge gate, and rings. “A former member of Guatemala party lives here,” she says. The fortress opens on a huge field, dozens of children play with impunity. Green grass, swings, huts, swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis and football … The contrast with the outside is striking, shocking. Facing us, the former deputy – all smiles – invites us to enter. The man uses this space as a recreational place for the young people he asks for 125Q for the day. While we did not see much, we observed it was occupied by youth from the United States, and the space was cut off from the rest of the area.
At 3pm, we finally take the direction of the restaurant. The meal is bland and expensive. (We would have preferred the opposite.) Fortunately, our appetites were replenished quickly by intellectual food. Esperanza introduced a friend of hers, a lawyer by profession, who is heavily involved in access to the rights of Guatemalan women. The sun began its race towards the night. We took advantage of this softened brightness to film our interview outdoors. Her words are most relevant. Even though she has not even prepared her interview, the lawyer takes every question to her heart and answers it with crazy precision: she structured her remarks, quotes key figures and articles from the Constitution, went through sociological reminders before exposing the facts. The night falls a few minutes after the end of our interview. The lawyer offered to give us a ride back home. At 7pm, we finally arrived at the casa, after this long day, we felt both exhausted and accomplished … Hooray for holidays!