Feature

Guatemala: A nation in the grip of depression

Guatemalans are suffering from “an epidemic of chronic pessimism.”

José J. Camacho
Siglo 21

Guatemalans are suffering from “an epidemic of chronic pessimism,” said José J. Camacho. We all seem to agree that “everything is bad, nothing is certain, everyone has a price, and something evil lurks behind every good deed.” The media fuel these perceptions by covering every new incidence of violence exhaustively, lavishing special attention on the most frightening and lurid details of the crimes. Pundits and commentators tell us time and again “that this country is a jungle, that we live under siege.” I sorrowfully acknowledge that Guatemala is one of the world’s most violent countries, with homicide rampant and drug gangs controlling much of our territory; just last week, the government’s top investigator of crimes against women resigned, citing threats against her family. But wallowing in despair only encourages an atmosphere of apathy. What does it matter, after all, how you do your job or how kind you are to your neighbor if good behavior is never rewarded? “Our culture of endless complaining is rapidly becoming a culture of passivity.” Will we all end up deciding that violence is inevitable, and therefore stop trying to end it? “That way lies societal suicide.” Guatemala is worth struggling for. We must envision a brighter future—and work toward it. 

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