It's clearer to me now why V's brother has been sent out to Tecpán this week.
Dubya's PR team (perhaps on a tip off from USAID) have arranged for the Prez to to meet up there with Mayan lettuce-farmer Mariano Canu whose association, Labradores Mayas, produces 95,000 heads of lettuce a week, thanks in part to $325,000 worth of technical assistance from an aid programme. Canu told the AP that he intends to ask the President if they can start to export their produce to the US. Good luck to him.
An excerpt from Bush's speech on Monday:
"Here's an interesting story for you. Mariano Canu, he was an indigenous farmer in Guatemala whose land provided barely enough corn and beans to feed his family. He was scratching to get ahead. No one in his family had ever been to college. Most of the people in his village never got past the sixth grade. Mariano began tilling the fields at age seven. He had spent his life in grinding poverty, and it looked as though his children would suffer the same fate.
"Trade helped him a lot, and here's how. To take advantage of new opportunities, he organized an association of small farmers called Labradores Mayas. These farmers began growing vegetables that they can sell overseas, high-valued crops like lettuce and carrots and celery. They took out a loan. Capital matters. It's important to have capital available if we want our neighbors to be able to realize a better tomorrow. And they built an irrigation system with that loan. And soon they were selling their crops to large companies like Wal-Mart Central America. With the money Mariano has earned, he was able to send his son to college. Today Labradores is a thriving business that supports more than a thousand jobs in production and transportation and the marketing of internationally sold vegetables.
"One of the stops on my trip is going to be to see Mariano. I can't wait to congratulate him on not losing hope and faith. I also look forward to seeing a thriving enterprise that began with one dream. And it's in the interests of the United States to promote those dreams. People like Mariano are showing what the people of this region can accomplish when given a chance. By helping our neighbors build strong and vibrant economies, we increase the standard of living for all of us.
"You know, not far from the White House is a statue of the great liberator, Simon Bolivar..."