Salvadoran bloggers begin 2007 with a call for realism when looking at the situation facing the country. There was considerable reaction to the end of the year statements(es) of the president, Tony Saca, who asserted that the economy was growing very healthily and declared that 2007 was to be the "Year of Social Peace."
JJmar at the Hunnapuh blog comments on the government's patting itself on the back(es) regarding economic growth in 2007. He points out that the government's statistics of 4.7% economic growth had been discredited and that growth was only 3.5%. More importantly, the root of the growth was increasing remittances from Salvadorans who had emigrated abroad and not from economic vitality domestically. Exports were increasing, but these were also tied to the Salvadoran diaspora as "nostalgia" foods were sent to emigrants in the US and elsewhere looking for a taste of home.
Ixquic reflects the hopes and dreams (es) of many Salvadorans. She also heard the government say that the economy is growing, but notes that there does not seem to be an improvement in ordinary lives. She suggest that the lack of benefit to the ordinary person from economic growth could be the result of growing inequality of the distribution of economic resources in the country. Similarly, when the government tries to spin the country's crime problems by stating that crime has not increased in the past 12 months, Ixquic finds little comfort for the victims when crime is already at painfully high levels.
What troubles Ixquic the most, she writes, is a lack of citizen spirit and participation whether it be in politics, or justice, or civil actions. Those who do participate seem to be stuck with anachronistic ideologies and lacking in creative solutions. Although the next election is not until 2009, Ixquic already sees signs of the country becoming ungovernable as the old parties harden their positions.
Jjmar and Izquic ask for optimism temptered with realism as the new year begins, a theme picked up by journalist Juan Jose Dalton on his blog. Dalton writes:
Pienso ahora que aquella idea del poeta guatemalteco Otto René Castillo: “Hermosa encuentra la vida, quien hermosa la construye”. Es la utopía que choca contra la realidad. Puede encerrar esa frase la máxima de nuestras acciones. Lanzo mi propuesta al aire como un grito desesperado para no sucumbir.
Reconocer que estamos mal no es ser pesimista como muchos creen; mentir y esconder la verdad es un cinismo condenable. La incertidumbre no debe implicar desesperanza. Enarbolar la utopía de un mundo convivible es la meta.
I think of the idea of the Guatemalan poet Otto René Castillo: “Beautify is found in the life of those who construct beauty." Utopia clashes with reality. This phrase can encapsulate the utmost of our actions. I launch my proposal into the air, a desperate shout in order not to succumb.
To recognize that we are evil is not to be a pessimist as many believe; to lie and to hide the truth is damnable cynicism. Uncertainty ought not to imply doubt. To hoist the flag of a utopia, of a world where all can live together, is the goal.
Also published on Global Voices.