Guatemalan Indigenous Journalist Censured for Reporting on a Protest

This piece originally appeared in El Faro English

Anastasia Mejía was already uneasy by the time the authorities reached her door last September. An indigenous Maya journalist in the rural Guatemalan department of Quiché, and a prominent woman in a community stained by widespread sexism and a country known for its anti-indigenous racism, Mejía had no shortage of antagonists. But after reporting on an August 2020 protest against the mayor of Joyabaj, accused of corruption, which devolved into the sacking of a municipal government building, she’d felt more on edge than usual. The arrival of the National Civil Police to her house on September 22 confirmed the worst of her fears: she was accused of participating in the disturbance she’d reported on and, alongside twelve participants, was being charged with sedition, arson, aggravated assault and robbery. 

It was the beginning of an ongoing nightmare for Mejía. Confined to conditional house arrest, the court forbade her from writing about or approaching the mayor against whom the protest was staged over half a year ago and from leaving the department of Quiché.

“It’s a way of continuing to silence me,” Mejia said last December. For seven years, she’d been able to use the radio equipment, installed on a rickety wood table in her house, to report on the protests and steadily mounting corruption allegations against Florencio Carrascoza. Now, according to the terms of her arrest and release, saying even a word about him would send her straight back to jail. 

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Florida Man Goes Fascist: An Encounter With Enrique Tarrio

Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, antagonizes a group of counterprotesters outside the February 2021 CPAC conference in Orlando, Florida.  (Matthias Winsor)

The piece appeared originally in The Nation magazine

ORLANDO, FLA.—It would be easy to see the relative calm of Donald Trump’s post-insurrection career as an ignominious end to six years of MAGA. For those of us used to waking up every day for the past four years wondering what wreckage he left behind overnight—and then compulsively scrolling through Twitter to find out—it’s been tempting to regard Trump as a spent force. But the atmosphere outside the hotel here last weekend hosting the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—with demonstrators cavorting in cheerful defiance of Trump’s election defeat—gave a very different vision of that movement’s future. It didn’t take long for me to realize that these people have no plans of going away.

I’d come to Orlando to interview MAGA supporters and get a taste of their plans following the unwelcome loss of the presidency. Few of them captured the tenor of the crowd better than Enrique Tarrio, the current chairman of the Proud Boys and one of the most controversial luminaries of the far right, whom I found slipping along the sidewalk with his own coterie of diehard supporters. To him, the reason everyone was out there braving the heat that afternoon was clear.

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