Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canton Elections

We were invited to go to Corozal this afternoon to attend (what I thought) were going to be the election of a new Directiva.

It is about an hour and a half drive when the roads are good. But what an adventure to navigate the roads today! What a muddy mess. We passed 2 BIG trucks stuck in the mud on one of the hills ... and I had to navigate around one of them on a steep hill on a curve ... and I BARELY made the skinny space. But had a cheering squad ... (the ones waiting for the truck to get un-stuck). And there were lots of areas with extremely deep and mucky mud.

But hooray for the 4x4 and knowing (a little) how to avoid getting stuck in mud.

And I'm glad we went. There was a "protest" from someone in the community regarding the new Directiva ... which is why there was going to be an election… This is not an uncommon thing – so there is no shame in what transpired today for the community … (shame perhaps on 2 or 3 individuals – but the community as a whole is not at fault – and in fact – they are to be commended for being in attendance and showing interest in and participating in the legal processes of their community!!)

So back to the reason for the ‘election re-call’ – One man said the new president came to the Pastoral House soliciting new houses for the new community down the road from them (which legally they are not supposed to do – they are only supposed to work for their own community).

But since we were there in person – representatives of the Pastoral House - WE could answer to that... Cecilia spoke up quite clearly and said that all we received was a list of names of the people now living in this new community. (They are calling themselves NEW Corozal and they have 110 families who have resettled there within the last 2 years and it is just down the street from 'old' Corozal).

Cecilia also said the new president of ‘old’ Corozal did not deliver it ... it was someone from the new community who delivered the list. And we did not receive any kind of solicitude - just the list of names for our information.

So the man was caught in a lie. Apparently he is the local trouble maker. He is maybe 30 years old... often drunk ... arbitrary... goes behind backs to stir up trouble (as in this case). And all this was verbalized in the meeting in front of everyone (with lots of nodding heads of agreement). This man had made a list of people who wanted the new Directiva out. There were 28 names on this list. But 8 of the signers were present in this meeting and they said they did now know what they were signing ... (duh... so don't sign it!!!) and that they were not in agreement to kick out the new Directiva. And some of the signers were not ‘socios’ (legal voting members of the Association known as Corozal)

Sigh. But there was MUCH more arguing and accusing that went on even after Cecilia’s words and the words of some of the signers.

But at least we could defend the poor guy who was accused falsely. And in front of the majority of the community no less. So for that especially, I am glad we made the trip out there.

And there was an InterVida guy there ... and the mayor was supposed to show up ... thankfully HE never made it to be witness to all this bickering.

Several of the community members asked forgiveness of Cecilia and me (and the InterVida guy) - apologizing that we had to be witness to all this arguing and accusing. I found it interesting to see some community dynamics in action. I don’t often get to see the actual ‘discussions.’ I usually just hear about the results later! It was interesting to be in the thick of it. And what a good thing that so many people were voicing their opinions – either way!

The InterVida guy was asked to speak about the legality of such things. InterVida is an NGO that works with the organization of communities. He said the general assembly DOES have the right to dispel a Directiva (or individual member) but only in the general assembly ... not out of one’s living room and then going to your neighbors and saying: ‘here... sign this.’ He sort of chastised them a bit... asking them to think: what institution is going to want to work with a community so divided?? They need to come together for the common good of the community.

Gee - THAT sounds familiar!!!

It really was quite interesting. Unfortunately, we had to leave because it was getting late and we didn’t want to be on the roads in the dark. We left about 4:45 and the meeting was still going strong. They might STILL be there! haha

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