Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mayan priests to "cleanse" holy site after Bush visit.

Only days after immigration raids in Massachusetts resulted in the arrest and possible deportation of 361 undocumented immigrants, most from Guatemala and El Salvador, President Bush was met with disapproval during a visit to Guatemala City intended to shore up deteriorating relations in the region.

Even while engaging in what should have been a simple photo opportunity, typical of any tourist to the region, controversy followed the beleaguered President. As Bush's entourage arrived at a local Mayan ruins, hundreds of indigenous demonstrators faced off with police and soldiers to oppose the president’s visit to the spiritual site. After the visit to the ruins of Iximche, the ancient capital of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom, local Mayan priests vowed that they would have to "spiritually cleanse" the area of Bush's negative energy.

According to Mayan leader Juan Tiney, "That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture."

Perhaps the priests could be persuaded to do the same kind of "cleansing" in Washington.

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites _ which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles _ would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.
Washington Post

But the President's problems in the region go far beyond the exorcism of his "bad spirits." The backlash from last week's immigration raid is strong in Guatemala where 10% of the population currently lives in the US.

President Bush came to this struggling Central American nation on Tuesday bearing a message that free trade with the United States would improve conditions for even the poorest Latin Americans.

But he was also confronted with an angry, outside-in perspective on the immigration debate raging at home, with even his otherwise friendly host, President Óscar Berger, using a ceremonial welcome to criticize the arrest of several hundred illegal workers, many of them Guatemalans, in Massachusetts last week.

“As is the case in every mature relationship, once in a while differences of opinion arise,” Mr. Berger said in the central courtyard of the grand presidential palace here. “For example, with regard to the issue of migrants, and particularly those who have been deported without clear justification.”

The remark, coming during otherwise warm comments by Mr. Berger, reflected the longstanding anger here over deportation of Guatemalans from the United States, which has been stoked by a raid last week in which more than 300 workers were arrested at Michael Bianco Inc., a company in New Bedford, Mass., that provides vests for the military.
New York Times

News of the New Bedford raid has dominated the Guatemalan press in recent days with stories of families torn apart and children left behind as their parents were sent off to Texas and New Mexico for deportation.

Bush stood by the raid, saying, “People will be treated with respect, but the United States will enforce our law” when face with questions from Guatemalan journalists. (Watch Video)

When asked about “conspiracies” that children were taken away from families on purpose, he denied such accounts. “No es la verdad,” Mr. Bush said, “That’s not the way America operates. We’re a decent, compassionate country. Those are the kind of things we do not do. We believe in families, and we’ll treat people with dignity.”

Adding even more fuel to the fire is the recent change in US policy towards Guatemalan asylum seekers living in the US since coming the 1990's to escape civil war and political unrest.
…activists who represent Guatemalan immigrants say asylum officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have begun to systematically deny thousands of asylum claims from Guatemalans who fled in the 1990s, arguing that normalcy has returned to Guatemala since the 1996 peace accords.

… immigrant rights group in Los Angeles - Casa de la Cultura de Guatemala - recently discovered that USCIS asylum officers had begun denying asylum claims of many Guatemalans who arrived in the 1990s.

Byron Vasquez, president of the group, said his organization is preparing a lawsuit in federal court to prevent asylum officers from denying these claims, arguing they should have been decided earlier.

Immigration officials said the agency is not seeking to deny all petitions from Guatemalan asylum-seekers and they are being decided on a case-by-case basis. Denials are referred to immigration judges to reverse or affirm.

But officials acknowledged the agency delayed decisions on many Guatemalan asylum applications because at the time the number of green cards available to asylum seekers was limited.


According to Vasquez, as many as 250,000 Guatemalans could face removal proceedings. Immigration officials said the figure may be much lower than that.
Kansas City Star

As Bush continues of his journey to attempt mend fences throughout Latin America after years of neglect, he's bound to face even further criticism. Perhaps he can convince some Mayan priests to work some mojo in his favor…but somehow I doubt they'd be too receptive to the idea.

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Anonymous said...

Any chance they could get rid of Johnny Sutton??

Duke1676 said...

Haven't you guys gotten rid of enough honest US Attorneys who do their jobs yet?

It's amazing to me that you right-wingers are all about upholding the law when it comes to deporting mothers and detaining children in internment camps for civil infractions and misdemeanors, … but the minute a couple of your own get caught and convicted of numerous major felonies... you're calling for pardons and do-overs...what a bunch of whiny little hypocrites and losers.

Those two got what they deserved and all the crying and whining about Sutton won't change a thing.

Rouge cops who break the law belong behind bars...plain and simple...you want the laws enforced? ...you got the laws eforced, get over it.