ANTIGUA, Guatemala- “They are shooting each other in San Lucas,” a travel agent spoke to me as she made phone calls trying to reroute tourists on private shuttles around the road blocks.
The bus drivers of Guatemala said Ya Basta — they did not get behind steering wheels this morning, instead, they got behind roadblocks. Many major roads around the country were shut down, in the early morning hours no traffic could reach the Guatemala City airport. Transportation has been drawn to a halt, all of the schools are closed, Guatemala’s gears are grinding.
I watch as a group of tourists return to their hotel after they missed their 4AM flight. They were held behind a roadblock, there was no way through to the airport.
The bus drivers of Guatemala are fed up with being assassinated. The gang networks of the country extort money from these drivers almost daily, if they can’t pay, they are shot dead. Hundreds of bus drivers have been killed in this way in Guatemala City, today the drivers said enough.
They want protection, and they are willing to shut the country down to get it.
Last night, under the cover of Semana Santa festivities, the bus drivers shut down strategic highways around the country. As the people of Guatemala were crowding the streets watching the procession of Jesus, the holy mother Mary, and a reenactment of the stations of the cross, the bus drivers were plotting their bid for protection.
When people awoke the next morning from their holy day celebrations, they found the country ground to a halt. There were no public buses running in Guatemala, not even school buses, and many major transportation thoroughfares were shut down.
This morning there were shootouts at the roadblocks. I am unsure who was shooting who, but it seems as if the government is clearing the road ways.
“At 12 o’clock the roads will be open, it just came out on the news, so I can sign you up for Pacaya,” the travel agent said as she hung up the telephone. Apparently, Guatemala claimed that the roads will soon be cleared.
It is undetermined if the drivers will be offered protection, but one thing is for certain: Guatemala needs buses, the country runs on the back of public transportation, without it, people cannot get to work, and the country grinds to a stand still. If the government does not provide the bus drivers with protection against extortion and stabilize the public transportation system, Guatemala will be shut down.
Filed under: Current Events — Politics — Guatemala Travelogue Entries