Saturday, May 16, 2020

A change of disposition...

If I were Dr G I would probably have shut down everything except local shops for this three day period. That includes restaurants with pickup and delivery. 

His message to ordinary Guatemalans seems to be that if you cannot find pan frances, buy sliced bread instead. 

I’d tend to agree, but the compromises need to be fair and even. It’s not right that local families are being asked to make do with bags of sugar and salt, whilst wealthier individuals and foreign residents can still have luxury pizza varieties or mango tacos delivered to their doors. Make them go to the local shop for eggs and bread like everyone else. (The two-tier lockdown hasn’t exactly been a roaring success up to now, has it?)  

And it’s just three days FFS. One of the circumstances that is making it harder still for the president to act decisively now is that the formal sector has spent the past month or so systematically encroaching on the informal, such that many of the vendors of luxury pizza are also trying to sell comida típica.

My basic plea here is not some sort of right-on call for radical redistribution during an opportune moment of crisis, but a sense, which I believe used to be a very British sense, that when the state asks its citizens to make a sacrifice, that everyone, regardless of circumstances, should be on board for this. 

Giammattei has repeatedly lost his cool over incidents he characterises as ‘massive social irresponsibility’ and when he does so, almost always appears to be taking aim at the lower income brackets. 

These incidents are real and do seem to emanate out of what one might call the popular culture of Guatemala. Yet one cannot castigate with the sort of moral authority that the President is after, unless the elites are also behaving themselves.

If I were running out of tinned cat food and decided to switch to dried grains for all the mishes except Clavi — who could continue to gorge himself on Felix — I’d soon be made fully aware of the levels of ambient resentment thus engendered.

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