There were policies that had a sole purpose of dest roying Mayan communities both physically and emotionally. The government tried to suppr ess their culture and force them to assimilate. Corinne Caumartin said, ‘to be ladino now deno ted until recently an essentially ‘nonindigenous’ identity of individuals” (p. 1 1) meaning that ladi nos were strict on who they accepted and a person or group had to be of their standards. Th e base of their history is the reason why the indigenous people of Guatemala have suffered t hrough racism and poverty.
Guatemala in the 1960s suffered through violence to the point where many peasants faced detention, torture, and sometimes death” (State Violence in Guatemala 25). In the 1980s the indigenous people demanded that the government respected their huma n rights, but “the Quinones 2 government was far from receptive: protesters were denied a hearing in Cong ress and their legal adviser was assassinated outside of police headquarter” (State Violence in Gu atemala 35). The experiences of the indigenous are similar to those of the Americans beca use of how people are treated and the class system behind it.
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In Guatemala the indigeno us population are different from the Ladinos, which is “unacceptable”. The American Indians (i. . Penobscot, Cheyenne, Gwi’chin, and the Navajo) have suffered from environmental racis m by the government and factory owners; this has left their people to protest and prot ect what is theirs. The Cheyenne Indians were fighting against methane wells, while the Penobsc ot were guarding their water from the pollution due to the paper mill factories. This is only a fe w of the issues that tribes have faced due to environmental racism, and it proves that Americans have experienced similar discrimination.
For the indigenous people, in order to become a ladino one must adapt to the western clothing and speak spanish. For the Americans we must adapt to the governments “way of life” in order to succeed, just as the indigenous people of Guatemala h ave to adapt to the ladino’s “way of life” in order to become successful and escape poverty. The o nly problem is that the indigenous and the Indian tribes are prideful people with beliefs of th eir own, and would not want to express the beliefs of others. The indigenous’ fight through poverty began with colonization.
Once the Span ish had conquered the indigenous people became slaves, and “capitalism cannot wor k without free labor’ (Homeland video). The demand for wealth created barbaric ideas in or er to gain power and money; which led to slavery and eventually poverty. The indigenous popu lation do suffer Quinones 3 from poverty on the governments end because not only is their country in de bt but the income is unequal. The social class is based on wealth, education, and family prestige which oper ates as a sorting mechanism among both Indigenous and Ladinos.
Race is also clearly a component, but may be less important than culture and lifestyle. However, Indians as a group are poorer and less educated than nonlndians. In the 1 980s, illiteracy among Indians was 79 perc ent, compared with 40 percent among Ladinos . In 1989, 60 percent of Indians had no formal edu cation, compared with 26 percent of Ladinos. Indians with thirteen or more years of education e arned about onethird less than did Ladinos with a comparable level of education. Racism is still prevalent and will always be prevalent not only in Guatemala bu t all over the world.
It is an issue that remains silent but deadly because no matter how many steps we take forward, there will always be the one situation that brings us ten steps backw ard. For the indigenous there is an increasing presence in church groups that is “leading t o the slow emergence of antiracist discourses” (Caumartin 42). Which is the one step for ward that they need. Eduardo BonillaSiIva says that race “as other social categories such as cl ass and gender, is constructed but insists that it has a social reality’ (p. 9).
Bonilla explains that th e way people see race is the same as any other social category and it is made that way on purp ose. The racial structure of Guatemala causes an issue for the indigenous because it “benefit s the dominant race” (p. 9). The indigenous have suffered and still continue to suffer through poverty. Vio lence and racial structure creates a gap that keeps them from overcoming obstacles in o der to become Quinones 4 successful. The class system in both Guatemala and America are similar beca use it is most beneficial for the Elite, while paving a way of destruction for the poor.