Monday, March 17, 2008

Belgos y Chinos

The same peasants who recently kidnapped a bunch of police officers near Livingston went a step further this weekend and took four Belgian tourists hostage. They have been protesting at the arrest of local campesino kingpin Ramiro Choc, who may well have been released after the Belgians (aged 59-64) were themselves set free after 40 hours, following what has been described in the media as a 'swap'.

Meanwhile, following a programme on Korean TV which suggested that nationals of that country were being specifically targeted by violent criminals in Guatemala, the Korean embassy has explained that only 24 crimes have been perpetrated against Koreans since 2003 (two kidnappings, three murders and 19 robberies), a drop in the ocean when one considers the total of 5,781 violent deaths over there in 2007 alone.

Rafael Salazar, the Chapin ambassador in Seoul has also helpfully pointed out that Guatemalans can't tell the difference between 'chinos' (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) and so the suggestion that the Chinese community is left alone because of the way it tends to fight back, is "not true".

Substantial Korean migration to Guatemala from the late 80s, generally with the intention to open small and medium-sized textile factories. Today there are more than 180 Korean-owned garment factories in the country, the largest being Shingwang Textiles. There are approximately 10,000 Korean residents in Guatemala.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's always a bit of a shock to see the hangul on signs in Guatemala City (and Escuintla--there's a big maquiladora down there, with a large billboard showing Koreans living in Guatemala). One of Betty's sister's kids works for a Korean factory and apparently they are not gracious guests in Guatemala...

We occasionally play the "Mayan or Korean?" game...esp. w/ kids.

Koreans and pure Mayans both have the "Mongolian spot," by the way...