Saturday, March 21, 2009

Japanese Author Presents Book About Guatemalan History

Last Tuesday, Japanese writer, Atsuko Kondo, presented at the Cervantes Institute in Tokyo, her book "Hidden Episodes of the Contemporary History of Guatemala," which recounts the road to the signing of the peace accords in 1996.

Divided into eight chapters, the book marks the milestones of the twentieth century in Guatemala, the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 by the U.S., and it addresses issues such as the expropriation of land from the Maya peoples.

The book summarizes the effects of unequal land distribution, which for the former Japanese Ambassador to Guatemala, Heisuke Shinomiya, "is still today the most serious problem in Guatemala."

As a proposal to end this situation, "Hidden Episodes of the Contemporary History of Guatemala" refers to the development of a land register, according to which there should be allocation of land across the country.

The book also gives attention to the relations between Guatemala and Spain, and the first peace negotiations after the military assault on the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala took place in 1990.

During the presentation, the writer urged the improvement of the educational system in Guatemala, especially among the indigenous population, to provide a greater awareness for voting at the polls.

Atsuko Kondo, who is very interested in the politics of Central America, lamented that Japanese schools do not teach the reality of this region.

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