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Amidsts all the war, death and chaos our incompetent leader has perpetrated against the world, it was quite an experience to spend time in the Guatemalan national palace and its peace museum.

Guatemala experienced the bloodiest of the Central American civil wars, with an estimated 200-300,000 dead over three decades. That war ended in 1996 after a long and arduous peace process, one aided by the oft-maligned United Nations and the involvement of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras -- all nations recovering from their own bloody conflicts.

For Americans not directly involved in a war (even Bush's War), war is an abstraction. We have become so desensitized to it thanks to Hollywood, video games and the nightly news. We hear things such as, "only one person died in the attack" and we think, "phew, it was just one." But every death is a tragedy of epic proportions, touching dozens if not hundreds or thousands. This country rightfully mourned 3,000 dead in the 9-11 attacks, yet doesn't consider the deaths of thousands of foreigners to be worth any consideration. But they hurt just as bad.

Bush's War has many casualties, but one of them has been the concept of "peace". It's seen as a matter of weakness, or appeasement, of anti-Americanism. So it was emotionally overwhelming for me to spend time in a place that celebrated peace. Various displays commemorated the ravages of war, others paid tribute to the nations of the world that lent their support in Guatemala's efforts for peace -- a true coalition of the willing.

Peace wasn't a weakness. It wasn't appeasement. It was a search for the highest ideal. A search that ultimately proved to be successful.

In Guatemala's national palace, the peace accords were commemorated with the following sculpture:

peace

Every day, a new white rose is placed on those two hands. The rose symbolizes another 24 hours of peace. Baby steps in a nation and region long ravaged by proxy wars and internal conflict.

I quietly wept as I gazed upon the sculputure. I wept for Guatemala, the pain for its losses and for hope for its future. I wept because it reminded me of the long path to peace in my own El Salvador. And I wept for my own United States, where peace is now a dirty word, where torture, death and human rights abuses are dismissed in a matter befitting Saddam Hussein, and where our leaders seek war and foment chaos.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:17 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Knocking off brown people" (none)
    Most Americans don't know about the role of the CIA in overthrowing Guatemalan government in the 1950s.

    link

  •  that is beautiful. (4.00)
    that is beautiful.

    www.nornsisland.com

    by n69n on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:26:31 PM PDT

  •  thank you for that (4.00)
    your photo is now my computer desktop pattern -  I need reminders like this...   beautiful.

    Here's to many many more white roses in those hands..

    Conservatives think America is a Christian nation... Liberals think America ought to act like one.

    by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:26:44 PM PDT

  •  Bitter Fruit (4.00)
    Bitter Fruit was assigned in my HS International Baccalaureate History of the Americas course by my fairly conservative, ex-Army major teacher. I had a lot of trouble reading it at the time, as I was still a pretty firmly entrenched little neo-con girl. I'm going to go re-read it now and recommend that the rest of you who want to know what we did in Guatemala check it out.

    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely in my name.

    by A Texan in Maryland on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:30:26 PM PDT

    •  other great antiwar works (none)

      were discussed here. I keep that thread bookmarked so I can remind myself of the hope for peace.

      Thanks for the recommendation. I have so much to learn about Central America.

    •  Sadly, one of the writers of "Bitter ... (none)
      ...Fruit" was Steven Kinzer. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1954 coup, Kinzer wrote a 1500-word piece for the New York Times that never once mentioned the CIA.

      Something you don't have to worry about: mad carrot disease

      by Meteor Blades on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:57:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  another recommendation (none)
        seeing as i just had to cram the entire history of US-THird World Cold war history into my head for a final, i recommend my professor Piero Gleijeses' "Shattered Hope," where he looks at the records of the 1954 guatemalan coup from gautemala's archives. he is a fantastic writer and his book goes beyond Bitter Fruit to say that United Fruit Company ultimately did not have a decisive impact on the CIA coup (he argues United Fruit actually had way more sway on US policy under Truman). as he quotes one guatemalan, "They would have overthrown us even if we had no bananas."

        Gleijeses is a big fan of Guatemalan commies and also wrote another book on CUban foreign policy and Africa (focusing on Angola and how Kissinger lied about our involvement there).

  •  Beautifully Expressed (4.00)
    As with so much you write.  Thank you.

    I would only add that the civil war you speak of was started by the USA engineered coup against the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954, and that this was done to appease the United Fruit Company, which was angry about the government having taken land from them and given it to thousands of peasants.  Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had been the company's lawyer, and was one of the largest shareholders, along with UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge.

    "[A] great empire and little minds go ill together." - Edmund Burke

    "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead." - G. Bush, II, The Son King

    by JJB on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:30:51 PM PDT

  •  Welcome (none)
    back, I hope you and yours had a good and safe trip, the democracy is still breathing but just barely.
    Too bad we don't honor peace here as they do in Guatemala, but then again they're more civilized then we are, so that's no big surprise.
    Peace.
    ABB&B!!!
  •  MLK called the U.S. the . . . (4.00)
    "greatest purveyor of violence" on the face of the earth.

    However, for most Americans, and for many people on this website, I have a feeling that this statement doesn't jive with Americans' image of their own country.

    •  Some links to explore that (none)
      There is, in my mind, no substitute for reading and dwelling on the words of Dr. King.

      Here is a Common Dreams article about the speech the quote you cite comes from and how it affected one listener...
      http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0108-05.htm

      and here is the speech itself
      http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

      Like Letter from Birmingham Jail, and I Have a Dream - his words strengthen, explain, and inspire my involvement.

      Conservatives think America is a Christian nation... Liberals think America ought to act like one.

      by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:44:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most Americans (4.00)
      Most Americans don't know their own history.  Most Americans are in denial of their present circumstances. Most Americans don't wish to face the truth about our mischief making throughout the world.  We are a delusional people.

      American mantra...Ignorance is bliss.

      The opposite of war is not peace, it's creation. --Jonathan Larson

      by pacifica on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:52:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So true... (none)
        I hear people all the time say things like "America has never started a war" or "America would never commit such atrocities..we're different," etc.  It's very strange:  an empire that denies it's an empire; a country founded in violence which denies it is violent; an aggressive country which claims it's not aggressive; a proselytizing nation (for Democracy, Capitalism, Globalization, whatever) which claims it just wants everyone to be free to live as they want to live.  I could go on and on.

        As far as Guatemala is concerned, my wife and I spent 3 weeks studying Spanish there and living with a local family back in 1997.  We both absolutely fell in love with that breathtakingly beautiful country which has suffered so much over the past few decades.  Sad but true:  the United States was largely responsible for much of the terror that engulfed Guatemala -- and El Salvador (and Colombia, and Nicaragua, and Cambodia, and...).  How many Americans have any clue?  How many Americans WANT to have any clue?  And we wonder how George W. Bush can be supported by 45% (or more) of Americans?

        "Despite all your rage, you're still just a rat in a cage."

        by lowkell on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:43:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We are now (none)
          committing the the greatest moral and geopolitical failure in a generation.

          Whoops.  We did it again.

        •  Another contradiction: (none)
          As Mort Sahl once observed, it is amazing that a nation that celebrates the fact that it was born of a revolution, denies people in other nations the right to have their own revolutions.

          But what is it Townsend said?  "Meet the new boss--same as the old boss."

          It seems to be the human condition that when people are down and oppressed and threatened they struggle to be free.  And, once liberated, end up oppressing others.

          Thus, the ancient Athenians (along with their fellow Greeks) fought off the attempts by the Persians to conquer and enslave them  . . . only to eventually subjugate the various city-states in the Aegean Sea into their own empire, and then attempt to subjugate the whole island of Sicily into it as well.

          Human beings can really suck.

      •  unfortunately, you are right (4.00)
        and some of the worst  have been our elected officials.

        Breaking of signed and ratified treaties unilaterally which do not have opt out provisions is considered a violation of international law.   The U.S. has done so more often than any other country.

        Before you go ballistic, remember that when we signed treaties with "Indian" tribes, they were considered Indian "nations" and the treaties were treated as such  --  and ratified treaties are, according to Article VI, the Supreme Law of the Land.

        And yet, the U.S. time and again broke such treaties, whenever it became to the advantage of the Anglos.  Gold (such as in the Black Hills) was often a proximate cause, but it was not the only one.

        We have a history of massacres that goes back to before we were a nation, including wiping out many of the New England natives in what we euphemistically have called "King Phillip's War."   Our history of intervention into the affairs of other nations outside the Continental US is also fairly atrocious -  Smedley Butler's famous remarks only addressed our interventions in this hemisphere, and all of these were before that in Guatemala referenced in this thread.    

        We interfered with the accords from 1954 in "Indochina"  because Ho Chi MInh would have won any fair election, and we wound up with war lasting another 2 decades.  

        We overthrew a popular government in Iran to restore the "shah" [remember, his father was an army sergeant who had seized power with the approval of the British], and then compounded the problem when after his ejection from the country we allowed him to come to the U.S. for treatment.

        We were intimately involved in the overthorw and death of Allende in Chile, and we got the rather brutal Pinochet government as a result.

        We were responsible for the several decades of abuse of Mobutu, whom we continued to prop up because he delacred himself an anticommunist.

        I could go on and on.

        As a society we espouse noble principles.  I know, I teach them to my 9th graders.  And I hope beyond hope that at least a few of them as they grow up will demand of our leaders that we honor them in act and not merely by lip-service.

        Last night 60 minutes revisited My Lai.  Over 500 men, women and children died in that village, slaughtered by American soldiers of the Americal Division .   The slaughter was covered up within the army, for years, until Sy Hersch finally did his story.  And for all those death?  3 people were sentenced, Calley to life, but he got out after only 3 years.  No one higher than a lieutenant, even though we had executed a Japanese general because his troops had commited atrocities -=- we executed him not because he orderd it, because he hadn't, but because  he failed in his command to maintain the necerssary discipline of his troops.   By that standard, at least the brigade commander in the Americal division was culpable, but one officer who investigated basically whitewashed it, an officer named Colin Powell.

        We are hearing how troops are taught to disobey unlawful orders, and that they can be held to account for following an illegal order.  Right  --  when people who report wrongdoing get isolated and have their careers often cut short, or worse.  The attempted fragging of the Michael J. Fox character in Casualties of War is not just movie hype. -- a soldier or other military person who reports wrongdoing often puts himself at risk.  We know similar things happen in other organizations, say in the police --  think of Frank Serpico in NY City.

        The most politically conservative student I teach has two parents who are retired army officers, each with more than 22 years of service.  His father, NRA member, very conservative Republican, is absolutely livid over what has happened, and thinks Rumsfeld should be fired, and probably Sanchez and Abizaed as well.  Everyone involved should be punished.  This is a man who saw his own career suffer because he spoke out when he saw things that were wrong.  He is passionate about the military, and does not want to see it dishonored.

        Santayana warned us that those who do not learn history were doomed to repeat it.  This is different than My Lai.  Not as many people died in the prison incidents.  But in many ways this was worse, because this was official policy, and the half-truths and outgright lies told since the story broke last week are even more sickening.    That Miller is in charge of 'fixing" the Iraqi situation when in so many ways he waas at least partially responsible for creating it makes me want to vomit.

        I apologize for my anger.  This has done perhaps irrevocable damage to our national interest.   it has placed Americans all over the world at risk.  It is the greatest recruiting tool ever for Osama bin Laden.

        Anyone who knew in advance is a war criminal by any standard in general acceptance.  To allow them to continue in their positions taints any one in power who does so with the guilt of accomplice after the fact.  But, hye, this is small potatoes compared to our protecting former SS after WW II because we wanted to use them against the Soviets.

        I am angry.  I am ashamed for my country.   And I really wish that those who taught history would teach it all.  There is much that is honorable  --  we have accepted after the fact many of the wrongs we as a nation have done, such as our payment to the Japanese Americans who were interned.  We are as a nation often quite generous, as shown by our generosity to other nations int heir times of crisis, most especially in the generosity of the Marshall Plan.  We have often (not always) welcomed those who have fled tryanny of any sort to come to our shores.  And we as a poeple have greatly benefitted from our resulting diversity.

        S Africa under Mandela and with the spiritual and moral leadership of Desmond Tutu did not seek retribution, but truth and reconciliation.   The latter can only happen we we take responsibility for full disclosure of the former.  I hope and pray that the members of Congress of both parties will use this occasion to work for the truthg, without which there can be no reconciliation, and that they will not worry about office, partisan advantage, or anything else.  Otherwise we maybe  lost as a nation.

        i m a teacher & proud of it

        by teacherken on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:10:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very nicely done ... your students are lucky ... (none)
          ...Just one quibble. My Lai was not covered up for years. It occurred in March 1968 and Hersh reported it in November 1969. Had he been able to find a mainstream media venue, he would have reported it far earlier.

          Something you don't have to worry about: mad carrot disease

          by Meteor Blades on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:28:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah... (none)
      many people on Kos don't know about American violence.

      "Calmer than you are, dude."

      by Sheffield on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:43:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  MLK Said It All (none)
      As an agnostic, the words of Reverend King and his ultimate sacrifice speak volumes beyond the Christian bible.

      "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects." -J. W. Fulbright

      by Seacrest Out on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:08:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah (none)
      We're just as bad as Saddam and his sons -- no question.

      I mean, we constantly feed people who oppose our government into wood chippers, and gas our own citizens...

      What am I doing on DailyKos? I'm Running for the Right...

      by RFTR on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:45:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (none)
        America is not nearly as bad as Stalin, Saddam, Fidel, etc.

        But we look bad when we claim to be freeing the Iraqi people, yet we're torturing them at the same time.

        Plus, don't forget less than 50 yrs. ago, the U.S. government denied syphilis and fed radioactive isotopes to developmentally challenged people.

        So there is definitely a disconnect between rhetoric and reality.

        Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

        by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:58:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oops (none)
          ...denied syphilis treatment to African American servicemen...

          Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

          by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:04:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (4.00)
          these terrible things have been done, and by our government.  But to call the US the greatest purveyor of violence on the face of the Earth at any time in its history is pure fiction.  We're not the most peaceful, but we're certainly not the most violent, either.

          What am I doing on DailyKos? I'm Running for the Right...

          by RFTR on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:06:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agree with you there (none)
            that was MLK's quote.  Part of America's greatness is its self-correcting nature.  It may be slow (look at Jim Crow), but it happens.  I hope we can show the world this nature in regards to the Abu Ghraib scandal.

            Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

            by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:09:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is. (none)
              And it's at testament to the American people who came before us, and the American people now that the self-improvement continues to come.

              Did you read Bill Safire's column in today's NYT?  Read especially the last few paragraphs... I like that he says:

              The United States shows the world its values by investigating and prosecuting wrongdoers high and low.

              Let's just hope that through diligence we can drive our government to hold responsible everyone who is responsible.

              What am I doing on DailyKos? I'm Running for the Right...

              by RFTR on Mon May 10, 2004 at 07:21:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Hypocrisy (none)
            But to call the US the greatest purveyor of violence on the face of the Earth at any time in its history is pure fiction.  

            Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The wholesale slaughter of aboriginal Americans. Conquest of portions of Mexico. Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Tuskeegee. How many deaths in South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East? All the fault of Americans. Perhaps the difference between the US and other monsters of history is less one of kind and more of degree.

            Also the hypocrisy sits ill with me. We invade a sovereign nation in the name of human rights, while we violate those rights, and violate sixty year old international law in order to do so. Never were so many bald lies told in support of something supposedly so righteous.

            Add a teaspoon of wine to a barrel of sewage, and you have a barrel of sewage. Add a teaspoon of sewage to a barrel of wine, and you have a barrel of sewage.

      •  It's not so much that we're worse... (none)
        We aren't, of course.  It's that we've gotten to the point that we have to defend our actions with, "Saddam's torture was worse!"  The fact that we need to compare ourselves to the previous regime in Iraq to look good is a failure in of itself.
      •  Why does anybody (none)
        take RFTR seriously? From his blog :

        "It should be pointed out that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib are not Boy Scouts rounded up for jaywalking. These are bad guys who either blew up or shot a coalition member; or were caught assembling an explosive device; or were caught in a place where the makings of explosive devices were found; or were caught with a cache of weapons. See the pattern here?
        In short they were trying to kill me and others like me. And if they succeeded in doing that, they were going to come over here and try to kill you.
        Ugly thought? You bet. But that is the kind of prisoner being held in the terrorist section at Abu Ghraib."

        He was there. Maybe we should listen to what he has to say.

        Didn't I hear somewhere  that 70-90% of Abu Ghraib prisoners had been arrested by mistake?

        Folks, this guy is a troll.  Please don't encourage him.

    •  I am no pollyanna when it comes to ... (none)
      ...America's history of violence and imperialism. As an enrolled Seminole, I know full well what racism combined with a philosophy of Manifest Destiny can achieve. And I know how propagandists can falsely equate American ideals with American reality.
      However, with all due respect to Dr. King, I don't accept his 1967 statement. Let's not forget, to offer just one example, that the Chinese Cultural Revolution began the year before King made that speech, and millions were murdered in Mao's name for that cause.

      The U.S. is just one of many nations that have engaged in and continue to engage in violence to extend the reach of their ruling classes. Historically, the ruling class of America has been exceedingly violent - but not nearly so violent as the ruling classes of the Arabian caliphs, the Ottoman rulers, the Spanish Conquistadors, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, the Maoist Chinese.

      The issue is not how violent the U.S. is, but rather the hypocrisy of those who say that the U.S. is rarely violent, and then, only defensively. That simply isn't true. But to say that the U.S. is the most violent also isn't true. Employing such hyperbole weakens our argument when we challenge neo-imperialism of our current rulers.

      Something you don't have to worry about: mad carrot disease

      by Meteor Blades on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:50:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Markos... (4.00)
    ...for reminding us about our own National Desensitization...

    Bush: All cat, no hattle!

    by MichaelPH on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:37:39 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful Post, Kos (4.00)
    You brought tears to my eyes. I have been so angry lately that I've forgotten to mourn. So much has been lost, so many are dying... It feels good to weep, to release the negativity.
  •  Beautiful (none)
    Thanks.

    The fool wonders, the wise man asks.

    by NTodd on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:49:38 PM PDT

  •  thanks kos (none)
    there's so much to be outraged about, its important to step back a little and put it into context.

    Bush/Cheney '04: Don't Switch Horsemen Mid-Apocalypse!

    by jb in nyc on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:50:27 PM PDT

  •  When A Heart And Mind (none)
    like that are together, there IS hope for peace.

    "Peace" is not just for Christmas cards.

    Thanks, Kos. Glad you're back.

    You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

    by mattman on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:53:26 PM PDT

  •  Incredibly Powerful (none)
    Thanks.

    If there is justice in this world, dKos may just be the first blog to win a Pulitzer.

    "I don't know where Bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." - G.W. Bush, 3/13/02

    by reef the dog on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:54:52 PM PDT

  •  Nice (none)
    Very nice posting.
  •  Thank you (none)
    for giving me hope.

    Bushwa (BUSH-wa): nonsense; bull.

    by Leslie in CA on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:00:09 PM PDT

  •  Peace (none)
    is not something that happens between wars.
  •  Welcome Back, Kos (4.00)
    We missed you.

    I know that those who wrote here while you were out did a good job. They deserve our thanks. Their work proves that you've done something remarkable -- you've built a community out of the blogging metaphor.

    But you also have your own unique voice, and here it is in its full glory.

    It's great.

    Thanks.

  •  I keep (none)
    trying to come up with something to say about this post. But you stated it better than I ever could. Thanks and welcome back.

    Please tell me the last 3 1/2 years have been a nightmare and I'll wake up in America

    by Mike S on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:07:18 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful, but a comment (none)
    Bush's War has many casualties, but one of them has been the concept of "peace"

    Silly man, that's why it is a relic in a museum!

    Seriously, though, I'm sure few Americans are also aware of our massacres of innocent villagers in Nicaragua. More than 800 dead in the 70's right? And how many military actions have we partaken in since WWII? 200? Unbelievable, but Noam Chomsky has them all catalogued in one of his books.

    We had no business landing on that planet. --- June Lockhart, Lost in Space

    by Doug in SF on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:07:27 PM PDT

  •  What a moving piece of art (none)
    If human beings would spend more time thinking about the beauty around and within us, as this sculptor obviously did, we would be far better off. I imagine Bush seeing that sculpture and completely missing the point. He's be impressed by how large it is.

    Hostage smiles on presidents, freedom scribbled in the subway. It's like night and day. - Joni Mitchell

    by jazzlover on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:17:19 PM PDT

  •  Fitting picture and monument... (4.00)
       Peace is fragile as a Rose and treasured more so. The arms reach from different directions, as two coming together to uphold  higher honor in the Rose's presence that symbolises what the goal presents.

       Strong stone hands  open, not clenched in agression. Power used  in accord strength and wisdom shared for peaceful progression.

       Each so the countries in sorrow's remembrance share the vision of freedom made real. This cause for celebration and  old scars of past wars heal.

       In closing again our chorus applauds the cherised freedom the sculpture lauds. Together the goal attainable stands. Higher standards uplifted the highest power's blessing to all lands.

                        :)

    •  Two left hands (none)
      Because the left hand is closest to the heart.
      •  What do the (none)
        bodies at the base represent?

        Bushwa (BUSH-wa): nonsense; bull.

        by Leslie in CA on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:31:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Warring communities coming together (none)
          Hands reaching out to each other. The conflict was very racial in nature -- with indigenous people discriminated against by the monied European ruling class.
          •  this (none)
            made me sob.  Thanks for the reminder, Kos, that there are ideals and that we fight the good fight for a reason.  I need tissues.
          •  Aspiring for Peace (none)
            Kos, thank you so much for this post.  With the ugliness that is so much part of today's news, this essay shows that it doesn't have to always be that way.  

            The people of Guatemala have learned a very hard lesson, yet show that they can bravely try to get past the anger and violence that tore them assunder.  

            We will need to hold our own memorials for our part in foisting war on the world.  Perhaps someday we'll have enough love and compassion in our hearts to even forgive those who drove us into this place.  And perhaps someday we can find a way to reconcile with the people we damaged so much.

  •  Eliot Abrams (none)
    Didn't that lying ex-felon Eliot Abrams, who W wants to put in charge of Iraq affairs, have quite a bit of Guatemalan blood on his hands from his stint in the Reagan white house?
    •  I think it's Negroponte (none)
      that W is nominating to be the new Iraq Ambassador, that peice of shit.  Although, Eliot Abrams isn't much better.
      .
    •  Yup, Elliot Abrams was one of the ... (none)
      ...butcher Rios Montt's buddies. He was the coup-installed military dictator who ordered the killing of tens of thousands of Guatemalans - mostly Indians - in order to dry up the sea so that the rebel "fish" would have no support in the countryside.

      Ronald Reagan, the rightwing's super-icon said of Rios Montt on a visit to Guatemala City in 1982 "a man of great personal integrity and commitment" a man "totally dedicated to democracy."

      Something you don't have to worry about: mad carrot disease

      by Meteor Blades on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:05:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rios Montt (none)
        I heard on NPR a few months ago that Rios Montt wants to be in power as President again in Guatemala. I shuddered to hear it.

        What's the situation with this?  

        •  Rios Montt lost badly. (none)

          Guatemala's 2003 Presidential elections were held in two stages.  It did seem scary during the summer, when after some July rioting the Guatemalan Supreme Court declared that the law forbidding Rios Montt from running for election was declared unconstitutional.  He had no monopoly on violence;  people also chased Rios Montt out of town by throwing rocks at him.

          Elections were tense, but in the first round in November, Rios Montt came in third with 19%, behind Oscar Berger (conservative, mayor of Guatemala City) with 34% and Alvaro Colom (moderate) with 26%.  Turnout was 80%, with people waiting four hours to vote.  It should be noted that attempts by Rios Montt's party to purchase votes did not work.  

          Berger won the general elections on December 28.  With the change in government, Rios Montt lost his immunity to prosecution.  

          On March 9, 2004, Rios Montt was placed under house arrest, and three charges have been filed against him in Guatemalan court over the death of a reporter from a heart attack while pursued by rioters supporting him.  Strangely enough, this version of house arrest lets him leave his house, but not the country.  

          If he left the country, Europe would not be too comfortable a place -- charges have been filed against him in Spain.  If he came to the US, he might be eligible for twenty years of Uncle Sam's hospitality.  18 USC Section 2340A.  Perhaps a citizen's arrest road trip would be in order?    

          Kos' panegyric aside, Guatemala is not exactly Denmark.  

  •  Someone Please Answer This Question (none)
    I am fully aware of the phenomenon where partisans consider commentators to be on the opposite side of which they support.  (There was actually a fascinating experiment done with referees and sports which supported the idea that individuals' opinion on who was getting screwed by the refs totally depended upon which team they were supporting.)

    In any case, my question:  Does Wolf Blitzer seem like a bloodthirsty, give-em-bloody-hell hawk?  Seems like he would perhaps fit in better at Fox even if he isn't as over the top as those dudes....

  •  Peace in our time... (none)
    ...seems to be a concept people simply don't want. {Warning: somewhat condescending comparison}It's like watching a NASCAR race without crashes. Nobody wants that! Why do people go to car races? For the crashes of course, it excites the crowd and keeps them coming back demanding more. We are a nation that will accept WarWithoutEnd because, darn it, it's interesting, exciting, and keeps us longing for more.
    Now we are being confronted with the effects of this war, and I earnestly hope we move to peaceful ways of accomplishing our goals from here on.

    Bush: All cat, no hattle!

    by MichaelPH on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:50:19 PM PDT

    •  "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (none)
      For those who haven't read it, I strongly recommend Michael Hedges' book, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."  Here's my review.  So true. And so scary.

      "Despite all your rage, you're still just a rat in a cage."

      by lowkell on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:56:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A pleasure to meet you :). (none)
        That was an excellent review. I will consider buying the book. Just from the review I gathered the sexual and addictive aspects Hedge's book relates to war are much aligned with America's constant quest for heroes. It seems universal in the American psyche and crosses all spectrums of society - politics, sports, entertainment, etc.  Am I wrong about this?

        Learning is not compulsory ... neither is survival. (W. Edwards Deming)

        by banjon on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:35:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sports/war analogy (none)
          No, I don't think you're wrong at all about the American psyche.  Hedges didn't say that war is the ONLY force that can give us meaning, just one of the most seductive, alluring, powerful, and all-encompassing.  

          Sports certainly qualifies as a "force that gives meaning" for many people, often to an absurd degree.  The home team is "we," and can do no wrong.  The opposing team is "them," and is bad or even Evil (in the case of the Yankees or Cowboys or Lakers or whoever).  In football, you've got people in helmets (like soldiers wear), you've got physical violence (and people carrried wounded from the field of battle), you've got a "ground game" and an "air war," you've got a sexual component (scantily clad cheerleaders to fight for/over), you've got the intel branch (the coaches with their headsets), and you've got strict rules of war (yes, you can knock someone's head off, but only in certain ways, and you can't gouge their eyes out!).  In fact, I'd almost say that sports -- particularly football -- for many Americans is a handy substitute (or is it practice?) for war.  Unfortunately, sometimes Americans seem to crave more than substitutes; they want the real thing.

          "Despite all your rage, you're still just a rat in a cage."

          by lowkell on Tue May 11, 2004 at 02:16:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, look at the reaction (none)
      to the proposed (by Dennis) cabinet-level Dept. of Peace.  Such a sensible concept, and it has been received with derision.  
    •  Agreed, but... (none)
      We are a nation that will accept WarWithoutEnd because, darn it, it's interesting, exciting, and keeps us longing for more.

      I'd like to make one observation... I doubt that we'd accept WarWithoutEnd if it affected our daily lives. What we like are gladitorial conflicts, bloodshed on TV, and anything to keep instilled the idea that the USA is the "greatest country in the world"... especially the third world.

      As soon as you imply that it should involve some sacrifice, especially one that impacts your daily routine... and you'll see that Americans are just like everyone else in the world. Add to that a bit of spilt blood, maybe their own... and suddenly Americans sue for peace.

      It's just that we have not really had the apin and torture of war drilled into us, since the Civil War... long time, and people forget (now the main remembrances of that eevnt are re-enactments... where's the pain and bloodshed in that?). In Europe, World War 2 is still fresh in everyone's minds, because the education system and cultural memory instills it into them. Perhaps they will lose their memory in a few decades as well.

      --
      Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

      by sacrelicious on Mon May 10, 2004 at 06:08:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  beautiful (none)

    Today is a good day, because I got to see and learn about that sculpture. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

    Thanks Kos.

  •  'Peace' (none)
    What is it?  Is it the absence of conflict?  Or is it something more?  What does peace mean to you?
    •  It's you again, the young sage (none)
      and asking such profound questions! Thank god for your voice, for your insightfulness.

      Peace? There will never be an absence of conflict, but hopefully there will be an absence of violence in resolving conflict. We must learn how to do that... and teach others. It is my belief that your generation will show us how to do that... Namaste

      An unexamined life is not worth living - Socrates

      by crone on Mon May 10, 2004 at 03:24:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  peace is the opposite of war (4.00)
      not the absence of war, the opposite of war. A conscious choice to approach conflict without violence, including where there has been violence in the past. I like how Kurt Vonnegut put it:

          Billy looked at the clock on the gas stove. He had an hour to kill before the saucer came. He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this :

          American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

          The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

          When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

          The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.

    •  thankyou (none)
      for asking the question that has been ringing in my head for about 25 years!
        it seems to me that people don't have a positive, cardinal vision of what peace could be and do for them, their neighbours, communities and the planet.
        their thinking slides to a halt at the idea of peace being a kind of 'point zero', or simply 'absence' of war.
        personally i believe this is a legacy of millennia during which as soon as a family, tribe or mini-nation got its thing together, living in peace, which perhaps for this argument could be defined as the capacity to trust that productivity and harmony, respect and forbearance are possible and sustainable.....
        then, whammo, some band of hooligans would ride over the hill and kick your ass, rape and kidnap your wives and kids, burn and salt your fields, or just hit you up for taxes  that you could not afford by force of intimidation, till you sent your daughters to the castle as maids, sold your cattle for coin of the realm to stay out of debtors' prison, gave up your land to become an economic refugee or another hungry denizen of a city like mexico city or calcutta.
        it's happened over and over, till it's become hard-wired into our operating system not to trust peace and the complacency that leads to lowered defences, as it always precludes disaster.
        bit by bit, soul by soul, we please have to create and live a personal vision and practice a living philosophy that embraces the possibility of peace lasting, and includes behaving as if enough of us believed this way and could hopefully persuade the rest to go along to get along, it really may happen.
        observing how many people watch horror films just in case they might feel peaceful, go to nascar races to see crashes and actually enjoy ratcheting up their nervous systems to nightmare point, i think we have a long way to go, yet if folks think that peace is just the absence of hostilities, their reality becomes a shoe waitng for its sibling to drop, i.e. war breaking out, 'cause it's always been that way.
        a circular loop of negative and removing- negative does not build a positive.
        imagination is the jewel we need to see shining more often, and the courage to live life as you would dream it to be, notwithstanding the massive 'evidence' that it is irrational, by most lights.
        i.e. the ability to swim upstream against deadly currents like a strong salmon, or the power and wisdom to be the lemming that says: 'wait a minute, guys, are we sure this is the right direction?'
        the lemming that even tries to stand still has an unbelievably difficult job, to try and actually make traction against the tide takes herculean soul-force, and builds character like few experiences can.

        this line of thinking leads right into another of my favourite mulling grounds, as the metaphor is so resonant:
        our relationship with our immune systems....
        health and wellbeing are not just not feeling sick.

        i am an artist and all i ask is the possibility to unfold my subconscious and link it with the collective unconscious (or something!) without some damn bunch of mongols, tartars, or whatever modern equivalent coming into my space and stopping me do what i love to do.
        if everyone loved someone or thing as much as life itself, i can't help but feel they'd feel the same way too.
      peace is just the door opening, point zero is just a jumping-off point, not a final destination.
      or as i like to say since 911, 'peace is the real ground zero'

      so there's my still-evolving answer to your question teenage dallas deaniac, and i concur with crone as to the worth of your
      contributions.
      please, write on!

  •  Beautiful... (none)
    Powerful statement, Kos, both the post and the sculpture.  Like It's Simple... did, I've made it my news desktop wallpaper.  It really is sad that the concept of peace has been demonized as much as 'liberal' has it seems.  It's no longer viewed as some naive ideal that seems unattainable.  It's almost viewed as 'evil' because it somehow ignores the costs of war or something.  Peace isn't the ignorance of war and it's costs.  It's a willingness to look back and say 'we don't want to pay that cost again.  We don't want to make such a sacrifice again unless it's truely necessary'.

    Jesus would weep at what some of his most 'ardent' followers have done to undermine the concept of peace.  

    'Liberal' Is Not A Four-Letter Word

    by Kryptik on Mon May 10, 2004 at 03:17:08 PM PDT

  •  You are so thoughtful (none)
    to bring this lovely image to us. I appreciate your sharing your personal moments in this wonderful place in space... one  dedicated to the hope that we can begin to find resolution to our conflicts in a manner other than the aggressive and  destructive one which has been the method of choice for far too long.

    I was in Washington DC in the early 80s on a Peace March with my young daughter. We'd not traveled from the West Coast as some others had, merely caught the last week, walking several days and finally, into the capital. There were no concrete barriers then, and Sisters from a nearby convent came to give the marchers foot massages. Though it was winter, there was a very festive mood. Some friends and I walked into a side street where a homeless woman sat regally on one of those open grates, with warm air rising from underground, her beautiful black hair flowing behind her. She looked at us and asked "why are you here?" We reponded we had been marching. She asked "for what" and we answered, "peace". She then spoke softly, "What is peace? ... and did you find it?"

    These days when bad news is followed by horrific news... when we are told the victims are the terrorists... when images that evoke rage and sorrow flit across the various screens and papers of our lives -- we reach out and clutch those brief interludes that bring some measure of hope... your words and picture are one of those much needed moments. Thank you.
     

    An unexamined life is not worth living - Socrates

    by crone on Mon May 10, 2004 at 03:17:17 PM PDT

  •  Beautifully put, kos. (none)
    Thank you very much.

    "And life is grand/And I will say this at the risk of falling from favor/With those of you who have appointed yourselves/To expect us to say something darker."

    by Oregon Bear on Mon May 10, 2004 at 03:22:28 PM PDT

  •  From the ashes, arise the Phoenix (none)
    A perfect example of the thousand silent horrors and the neglect of the righteous.

    "Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
    -Haile Selassie

    "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects." -J. W. Fulbright

    by Seacrest Out on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:04:17 PM PDT

  •  Exactly right. (none)
    "For Americans not directly involved in a war (even Bush's War), war is an abstraction. We have become so desensitized to it thanks to Hollywood, video games and the nightly news."

    And that, I would bet, is the reason for the ban on photos of flag-draped caskets:  because suddenly when we see those, war stops being a video game and becomes about death.  The ultimate taboo in this society is the acknowledgement, contemplation, or acceptance of death; and that's the thing that war is sure to produce.  So our wars are denials of reality, or are predicated on that denial.

    Thank you for an excellent piece, Kos.  I agree with the person who said above that it is good to let go of the immense anger and allow ourselves to grieve.

    Welcome back.

    "Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat." (Mark Twain)

    by cinnamondog on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:08:34 PM PDT

    •  Images (none)
      It's amazing how images provoke so much in us.  Kos's picture of peace and remembrance and the torture pictures coming out of Iraq now merge the past and the present in accord.  

      Learning is not compulsory ... neither is survival. (W. Edwards Deming)

      by banjon on Mon May 10, 2004 at 06:12:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome home (none)
    Kos, so glad to have you back safe and sound.  The last ten days have pretty much sucked if you have a conscience - especially for those of us in uniform.  I have gone through waves of disbelief, quivering rage, deep sorrow, shame, and disgust.  My bruised faith in humanity has been somewhat assuaged by reading the thoughtful comments over the last few days as posted by my fellow Kossacks.  Anywhoos, welcome back.
  •  Just One Death (none)
    There is a concept in Jewish philospohy which states (pardon the paraphrase):

    "When one person dies, a whole world dies."

    We should each reflect upon that next time we read in the newspaper, as Kos puts it, that "only one person died in the [insert your tragedy here]"

  •  thanks (none)
    Thank you not only to Kos but to all those who post here with such sincerity. I come and read at this site because it is a place where people are constantly and honestly trying to better themselves through thoughtful discussion and sharing of new information. It gives me great hope to read here, even though I am still searching for a similar place that exhibits the best of my fellow Australian citizens.

    As an outsider watching the reaction here to the recent torture scandal and numerous other historic events, I wanted to make a minor presumption and say -take heart. Americans are not the worst people in the world, be the measure ignorance, racism, human rights abuses etc. You're all just human like the rest of us - beware of any hubris or belief in exceptionalism lurking in the form of an expectation that America/ns are somehow different (better).

    It is greatly to your credit that you find the courage and self-reflection to truly examine what your country does in your name. How I wish more people would, in all countries. And I recognise that it is the hardest to do, when you live in the heart of the empire. Reading here daily deepens my respect, and helps me remain hopeful that a similar renaissance of the higher human ideals and will to enact them will bloom in my part of the world.

    with apologies for the use of plural 'you'

    •  i couldn't agree more (none)
      watching from europe, where also there is nothing like dkos, yet anyway.
      viva internet!
      and to all those living in the belly of the beast (and trying to give it a bellyaching good purge), i salute your courage, awareness and collective wisdom, as daily garnered and enjoyed by all we 'foreign' readers, in awe as i am by how riveting this site truly is, whether for news, editorial or comments.
      thanks, kos, i second that pulitzer vote by the way.
      you Rock
      thanks america, as long as i keep reading the quality of input this site i, and many others, will still keep believing in you, notwithstanding the image your leaders purvey.
      abb!
  •  Thanks Kos (none)
    Beautiful writing. Heartfelt and poetic in the best senses. I waited a long time and re-read it before I came here to the comments section, I knew that the spell would get broken. Alas, Central America, so long six pawns in the power game.
  •  speaking of israel (none)
    speaking of Israel, they're once again violating international law and using Bush's own preemption doctrine. what else is new.
  •  Peace statue (none)
    Guatemalans are just as capable as anyone else of having a peace memorial and not being peaceful.  We don't own the rights to hypocrisy.

    They have a long way to go.  A long way. Rios Montt finished 3rd in the first round of voting!  In December, they elected a pro-business conservative.

    I'm not writing this to disrespect Guatemala.

    I write this so people might consider supporting NISGUA.  An organization that is helping to support human rights efforts there.  Please don't consider their journey to peace to have succeeded.  This effort needs support.  You can find NISGUA at www.nisgua.org.

    Thanks,

    A former accompanier.

  •  Nunca Mas...more to read. (none)
    Contemplate the commitment to human rights and truth in the life of Monseñor Juan José Gerardi Condera who was assassinated in 1998 after submitting Guatemala: Nunca Mas (Never Again), the human rights report that detailed atrocities committed during the 36-year civil war.  Reflect on the assassination in May 2001 of Sister Barbara Ann Ford, Sister of Charity, who had assisted Monseñor Gerardi.

    more to read..
    Guatemala, Nunca Mas. Recovery of Historical Memory Project. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1999). Produced by the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala (ODHA), which Gerardi founded with others in 1990. For further background see James Torrens, "Of Many Things," America 178 (May 12, 1998): 2; Stephen A. Privette, "Guatemala Report," Commonweal 125 (May 22, 1998): 9-10; Lucia Rossett, "Sr. Barbara Ford, 1939-2001," The Catholic Worker (June-July 2001): 4.

    From:Social Justice, Personalism, and the Practice of Librarianship.
    Kathleen de la Peña McCook.
    Catholic Library World Winter, 2001.

  •  Not so sure. (none)
    yet doesn't consider the deaths of thousands of foreigners to be worth any consideration.

    How much consideration do you think is enough?  Do I scour the news for 2 hours a day and mourn for all those that have died, or do I realize that it's enough to run and change my own country, and that I even though I may not be outwardly consdiering non US deaths, I am still thinking about it.

  •  thanks, kos, for the beautiful post (none)

    Hark! Hark! the Clarke!

    by Errol on Mon May 10, 2004 at 07:16:43 PM PDT

  •  <b> let's not forget</b> (none)
    the role of our own government in the suffering of Guatemala.  I was a peace corps volunteer there in the mid-sixties, ten years after the fall of the Arbenz regime in a widely acknowledge CIA sponsored effort at regime change.  The thirty or more years of right wing terrorist gangs in one legacy of that kind of thinking, a legacy that will come back to haunt us every night from our country's mistaken efforts in Iraq.
  •  Domincan Republic (none)
    That reminds me of our intervention in the Domincan Republic.  My Mom was in the peace corp down there when they had their revolution, so I had first hand accounts from her and my ex officio aunt Tati, who is one of my Mom's closest friends who lives down there.  I got to speand a few months down there, and it is one of the best experiances of my life.

    Basic story:  We support asshole facist Dictator Trujillo, cause he is "anti communist".  He is such an asshole that we wack him.  Dominicans finally elect a guy that the people want.  Trujillo's General old pals overthrow him.  Peasants revolt.  Generals call the peseants and the defunct leader Communist.  US kills a shit load of peasants who were about to actually take their country back.  Old pal of Trujillo gets "elected" and stays the "elected" leader for the next 24 years, while robbing the country blind.

    To talk to people who know the ravages of War and evil Dictators, you know that it is something that you can't take lightly.  You also know that the line "they hate us becuase of our freedoms" is a total joke.  You also know that most people are just trying to get by in life.  Freedom is a luxary that most would give up or refuse just to have peace and order and be able to live without War and violence.  That is true freedom.  Everything else is just coffee shop talk and political Imperialistic bullshit.

    "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code." ~ Dave Clark (1992)

    by charlesdog12 on Mon May 10, 2004 at 08:46:08 PM PDT

  •  I spent the summer of 1979 (none)
    at an intensive language school in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala.

    It was an intense time: When I arrived in Guatemala City, almost all of the hotels were full of Sandinista refuges. When I left at the end of the summer, the hotels were full of  refuges from the Somoza regime. In between, the Nicaraguan revolution took place, and there were celebrations throughout Guatemala. All summer long, there were guards with machine guns in front of all the major buildings, and the high school students waged an intense strike that sounded more militant and better organized than anything college students in the U.S. ever achieved.

    The really bad times came after. I often wonder how all the teachers I studied with fared in the following years.

    Thank you, Markos, for bringing back an image of green and peace from that beautiful but long-suffering country.

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