Field Notes: FRom Votes to Cash to Dencunciations


A lot has been happening in these parts of late. The most well covered in local media has been the back-and-forth see-saw of re-elections in Nebaj. If the fact that holding new elections for mayor, almost 2 years after the original elections, leaving only 2 years more of mandate for the new mayor was already a bit bizarre, the process has been additionally mired with a slew of legal actions, uncertainty stemming from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal itself, and acrid local politics. I am not close enough to the situation in the ground to comment, but the well-healed Patriota candidate, who set off the fracas to begin with by challenging results, seems to me to represent yet more Patriota angling to secure its positions of patronage within the important communities of Quiche. Alas, today’s scheduled vote itself remains in doubt, as do certain candidates given their shifting party allegiances. In the very least, it is a disastrous example of how party politics have continued to sew discord among community members, where none should be sewn.


Given the recent debacle with the health system and its mass-firing of contracted workers that are key to service delivery in rural locations, it was with more dismay that I saw this article in today’s Prensa Libre. MIDES, as anyone who has been reading my blog knows, has been the bane of development in small communities throughout Guatemala. They have rather blatantly violated their basic mission, created divisions in communities, and hoarded resources. No matter, they want more money — a lot more money —┬áto presumably do more of the same.


Circling all the way back to Totonicap├ín, it was very interesting to see this article in yesterday’s Prensa. As I have written about in a forthcoming article for the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development (Vol 8 no 3), the indigenous leadership organizations of this region are frequently in great discord with the elected officials. It is symbolic of the remarkable tenacity of these leaders, and the resurgence (or resiliency) of indigenous institutions and cultural norms. And their fights are largely just. Separate of this article, however, I do argue that such discord has not served the people well — especially those who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition and extreme poverty, which Momos sadly is saddled with in spades (to mix metaphors). On the other hand, their tenacity fends off some of the party divisions that have submerged most other communities.

3 thoughts on “Field Notes: FRom Votes to Cash to Dencunciations

  1. Hi Matt, I miss living vicariously through your blog posts from Guatemala…I imagine you have (mostly) wrapped up field work and are now trying to make sense of it all. A blog post might help you get your thoughts in order haha

  2. Hi Brendan! I was just thinking about you guys. Indeed I came back to a busy start to 2014 — teaching 2 classes, which needed prep, and ISA paper preparations (which unfortunately are more on ancillary projects than my dissertation topic). so indeed, I’ve been VERY remiss in keeping this updated or valuable, which has caused its own anxiety! I am hoping to resurrect this here soon with some more valuable posts, though they won’t have the same same allure as those straight from the field I am afraid. In any event, thanks for checking in! and I hope to get this up and running properly soon How is London-town? M

    • I will indeed miss the ‘as-it’s-happening’ reports from the field, but I suppose I could browse the Prensa Libre online too. But I do look forward to some thoughts on your data as you start to get into your analysis.

      London has been good, headed out to Jakarta next week for a workshop on governance I’ve been putting together. Should be interesting. Trying to turn some of my dissertation chapters into articles, but finding that time has been hard to come buy (plus its still hard for me to look at my dissertation with anything that resembles interest!).

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