“Whoever wins, we’re fucked”: On The Punk Rock Frontline of Anti-Government Protests in Guatemala

el-suchi-by-charlie-quezadaSomething huge is happening where I am in Guatemala right now, and it’s good news if you’re in the vuvuzela business. Before the weekend some 70,000 protestors were making an earth-shaking racket in Constitution Square in the capital of Guatemala City, calling on their President, Otto Pérez Molina, to resign so that he can be arrested on corruption charges. It was just the latest in a series of demonstrations that have been going on every Saturday since April.

The president will be gone by the end of the year anyway, as there are elections planned for September 6 and Molina can’t run again. But that’s not enough for the protesters, who call themselves, simply, ‘The Movement’. They want him arrested to prove that the country can take corruption seriously. The problem is that Guatemala’s political class are so crooked they need servants to help them screw their clothes on every morning. The demonstrators are calling for a total overhaul of the system. One of their chants is: “En estas condiciones no queremos elecciones” – “In these conditions, we don’t want elections.”

kegp-el-suchiWhen I was in the square last Saturday I bore witness to quite a surreal scene, as a band turned up to play an impromptu guerrilla gig right at the centre of the protests, dragging their kit into the midst of the demonstration on a wooden donkey cart. They were handing out hymn sheets as they set up, which named them as El Suchi. The protests have drawn a broad cross-section of Guatemalan society, but everyone from businessmen to elderly street-traders seemed to be united by the anger and frustration that was channelled in this band’s performance – which, as contemporary protest music bylaws decree, sounds a bit like Rage Against The Machine.

When they finished their set, I grabbed frontman Daniel Garcia to thank him for drowning out the vuvuzela and to ask him how he and his band came to contribute the righteous soundtrack to Guatemala’s uprising:

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