Swirls Of Colors in Guatemala

Sensuous Guatemala by Ken Veronda.

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During election time in Guatemala political parties display their colors and logos big and small, with supporters dressed in party T-shirts (playeras), waving posters and signs with party designs.

Red, white, blue and green compete in this month’s run-offs after 15 other presidential candidates and scores of local office-seekers were eliminated, but their logos and colors remain on view throughout the country until they fade away.

Over the 40 years since we’ve observed the color of elections here, more than 50 political parties have been formed, each with different symbols that brought victory or loss, then mostly disappeared like the kites of the season.

Young people gather at political party offices for sandwiches, soft drinks—and get free playeras if they promise to go on parade. Occasionally a kid can be seen wearing a T-shirt from an election of last century, well before the child was born, maybe handed down from an older sibling.

Look carefully, and you’ll spot faded graffiti from old elections, a thumb’s up, red-white-blue circles, arrows, rainbows, a three-finger pledge now forgotten. New parties name themselves to create catchy acronyms.

The hand-painted party symbols of a few years ago, on buildings, road cuts and banners, have been mostly replaced with more sophisticated, digitalized designs on poster board or vinyl. Some of the better-funded candidates produce lighted, sophisticated electronic billboards with their smiling faces.

Something is new on the political landscape this year. News outlets and social media projected images of blue and white Guatemalan flags as thousands of Guatemalan citizens marched together in protest of corruption in their government. This is a fresh new kind of Sensuous Guatemala.

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