For those of us who have visited Xela, lived here or seen pictures, the Municipal Building is indeed a gorgeous example of Xela architecture. This shot however, taken by guest contributor Sergio Dominguez, shows the tiled floor of the “Muni” covered in garbage. I have seen similar scenes in other countries and yes, granted this was after a party in Central Park. But truth is, Guatemala has a garbage issue.
It’s surprising to see, because in so many ways, Guatemalans are such hard workers…constantly sweeping their doorsteps or spraying down the dust that arises during dry season. It was not in Guatemala that I first saw someone open a candy bar and toss the wrapper on the ground, but that behavior is common here and it is extremely troubling. If you read XDP often, you know I applaud the hard work done by the Xela Limpia fellows. Truth is, we need them, badly.
But beyond that, education is needed about the damage that is done to the land as our generations litter and no one changes. Much of the flooding in Xela during rainy season is not only due to poor infrastructure/drainage systems, it is due to the garbage that lines and fills the grates of the drains themselves.
It was good to see that this year, outdoor garbage cans have been added to many streets in the center. Although small, a little frail looking and hung on the posts on the sidewalks, I do see them filled and emptied as time passes. This is a good sign, a step in the right direction.
I’m not sure what can be done about this. I recall hearing an American say once that the U.S. went through a very similar thing in the 1940’s/1950’s, until someone (perhaps the President?) stepped forward and initiated and made law, that things had to change. There was massive education on littering and it’s effects. I remember when I was a child, seeing commercials on tv about how disrespectful is it to throw your waste on the ground. That stuck with me.
This is such a beautiful country, rich with culture, passion, art, love, music, faith and so many other wondrous things. What needs to be done to change how people treat this wonderful land?