Saturday, April 7, 2007

La Huelga de Dolores/Semana Santa

So here in Guatemala and most of Central America Easter is not just a one day affair. It actually lasts a whole week and is called Semana Santa or Holy Week. It is a time for a lot for religious celebration as well as some rather non-religious revelry. Many people get the whole week off and most get at least Thursday-Sunday. Those that are not participating in one of the many processions, and have the money for it head for the beach or the lake.
However, here in Guatemala there is something else before Semana Santa called the Huelga de Dolores or the Strike of Sorrows. This a strike that the students of the public University here have been doing for over 100 years. It starts around the time that lent starts and goes until the last Friday before Semana Santa starts. On that last Friday the students have a big parade. In the past it has always been very political. The students would denounce the government or the police or the president. However, recently especially here in Xela it has become very monetary in nature. the students always went around asking for money from businesses and people in the weeks leading up to the parade and if the business would not give them money than they would paint the outside black or graffiti on it. But in the past they were not asking for that much money $5 or so from little corner stores but recently they have been asking for much more money. And it has turned in to a lucrative business for the leaders of the Strike. This year they did have a parade and there was quite a bit of political content to it.
How do I know all of this about the strike do you ask? Well part of the reason is that I had to translate a talk given at our school about it. I was actually really nervous about it before hand. It turned out to be not as hard as I expected. I managed to get all of the ideas across even if I did have word for word translations for everything that the speak said. Plus he was really nice about it and only said a couple of sentences before allowing me time to translate. Since than I have translated two other talks at the school. What is more difficult than understanding the Spanish is trying to write it down fast enough to be able to repeat it back in English.
I forgot my camera adapter today but I should have some picture of both the Huelga parade as well as some of the religious parades up soon.

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