Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Peace Corps Games

Six actors stood frozen on stage, one pair in colonial dress, a woman in a psychedelic green seventies motif, a second couple in all white beach clothes and a third in a silver jumpsuit with futuristic LED lighting.  All were caste in gold-face and were shimming yet frozen in various poses on stage while the most important community figures spoke about a theme completely unrelated to the awkward living statues; the book fair that was taking place next door.

Fake blondes plastered with makeup and false eyelashes clapped madly as the speakers finished their self-congratulating speeches that hardly touched upon issues of literacy, reading or access to education but instead reveled in the accomplishment of putting on the tenth annual book fair, where one could buy a single book for the cost of what many people have to feed their families for the week.

It has been the running joke that I am Katniss living in the Capitol of a remote South American country.  As much as I love to hate the truth in a pop-culture reference, I couldn't help but smile at the irony when the grand finale of the book fair inauguration revealed eight carnival dancers on stage, scandalously embossed with strategically placed bling and ridiculously large feather headdresses who gyrated to blasting carnival music as a tribute to the great accomplishments of this machista city of the south.

As the room full of ‘somebodies’ gawked and applauded over-approvingly at the ‘performance’, I couldn't help but scream inside, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BOOKS???!!!” 
In my position, I've been repeatedly warned against negative blogging about specific people, events or places.  I mean no offense with my description of this night but can’t help but share the reality of living in a country that is rated by Transparency International as having the 27th most corrupt public sector in the world (http://www.transparency.org/country#PRY).  Guarding information and impeding access to education is a celebrated fact when elites surround themselves with books and pervert the transformational and liberating potential of the written word into another show of affluence and decadence.

Signing off from the Capitol…