>Out to lunch, out to protest.

I went to the university to have lunch with some friends and ask about graduate studies in Political Science and ended up becoming a rookie photo journalist in the middle of a student protest. In short, the protest was organized to illustrate support and solidarity for various indigenous communities throughout the country who are protesting landlessness and violations of their human rights by the government. The indigenous protests are”aimed at expressing their rejection of physical and cultural genocide and the various ways in which their rights have been trampled on and violated.”

The students, many of which cover their faces to avoid being identified (duh), barricaded the entrance to the university with lunch tables and whatever else they could get a hold of, and commenced tossing their potato bombs and rocks at the cops while chanting anti-Uribe and police mantras. The fog of tear gas was thick but the students continued to cover the ¨made in the USA¨ tear gas cannisters with garbage cans while dousing milk in their eyes to sooth the watery sting. While taking fotos amongst a group of kids we were shot at twice with tear gas and the cops were taunting the students from the other side just as much as the students were taunting the cops.

The police are not allowed to enter the university but on this occasion they broke through the barricades with their armored transports and water cannons trying to spray the kids down like a gardener going crazy with a bottle of round-up. The kids just scattered and regrouped and then commenced tossing their angst and frustrations at the heavily armed police. This is the second time I have been to the University during a protest. It is fairly common for protests to take place at the public universities which are under constant threat of privatization.

It is inspiring and moving to see how passionate some of the students are here. I venture to guess part of the reason is because many of them are a lot more in touch with the realities of poverty, injustice, war and displacement. At the University of Utah, where I never saw one protest, the students seem more disconnected with the realities of the world and just go about walking around with their ipods looking cool and fashionable, not giving a shit about anything that is going on other than their next exam. If all are docile it makes mobilizition and organization more difficult. Many seem so passionate and dedicated to bringing about social change through civil disobedience, and it inspires me.

To some it may seem like another protest for some vague and obscure cause, but to others the obscurity in the cause it what beats life into their hearts. It is the fuel for revolution and social justice.


One Response to >Out to lunch, out to protest.

  1. >Ryan,Garrett, Pj´s buddy. I was so psyched to find your blog! I am taking you up on the bet as we speak without even knowing it. I have been traveling around Guatemala, Belize, Mexico for the past month hitting the tourist traps, but for the last week we have been in this port town called Pto. San Jose, and it has been an eye-opening experience. It´s not as sketch as were you are, but as a photographer carrying expensive equipment, there are tons of criminal kids around. This place has been my favorite by far because it is so much more the ¨real Guatemala¨ with crime and deep poverty and drugs. I have enjoyed shooting images of it. The people I have met as I have been around are so amazing as well. Keep posting, your adventure is marvelous!

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