The one track media

by Beacon Staff • April 5, 2006

They run toward the back of the paper, if at all, wedged between ads and without photos,

They will certainly not make it to CNN's nightly newscasts.,They are hidden behind the front page of The New York Times, past images of bloody insurgent attacks in Iraq and headlines announcing the U.S. government's insistence that there is no civil war there.

They run toward the back of the paper, if at all, wedged between ads and without photos,

They will certainly not make it to CNN's nightly newscasts.

Without a doubt, stories revealing the latest updates from Iraq require extensive media coverage.

In a war where more than 2,300 American casualties is the result of three years of battle, it is critical that America is made aware of the current situation.

However, Iraq and the Middle East are not the only hot zones on our planet. As media outlets compete over which one will be able to provide the sexiest stories from the war zone, human rights violations are occurring much closer to America's borders as the mainstream media fails to adequately highlight them.

Let's spin the globe back toward our hemisphere.

On March 30, President Bush attended a summit meeting in Cancun, Mexico with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. They were there to discuss the implications of controversial House and Senate immigration bills.

While in Mexico, Bush visited Chichen Itza, the site of an ancient Mayan metropolis, and had his picture taken while scaling pyramids and smiling with traditional indigenous performers.

Bush expressed appreciation for this rich culture during the photo opportunity, but as the lights from the flashbulbs faded, so did both the president and media's interest in the story of these people.

Chichen Itza is among dozens of major ancient Mayan sites, which stretch from Mexico to Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. From 250 to 900 A.D., the Mayan civilization was comprised of powerful city-states, much like the ancient Greek empire.

At the height of their existence, the Mayans had developed written language, a method for studying astronomy and massive pyramids carved from limestone and constructed without aid of the wheel.

A common misconception about the Mayan civilization is that it collapsed completely, with its people dissipating into the abyss of ancient history only to be discussed in high school textbooks.

Though they no longer construct pyramids that rise above the rainforest canopy, today the Mayans are the largest indigenous population in North America. According to the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations, nearly 50 percent of Guatemala's population consists of indigenous people.

And they have suffered decades of severe human rights violations.

Guatemala is still recovering from a 36-year civil war waged between leftist guerrilla groups (consisting mostly of indigenous people) and the army, which was anti-communist.

In 1996, 200,000 deaths later, according to Amnesty International, the war was officially declared over. However, gang violence, murders and racial and social discrimination against the native population are a continuing aftertaste of a war most Americans have never heard of.

In Guatemala and other Central American countries, Mayan groups primarily reside in rural villages where they are kept at poverty level and are often swept up in gang violence due to scarce government protection and police regulation. According to a recent BBC article, "Mob Justice in Rural Guatemala," indigenous people are often forced by their villages to join clandestine groups as a means for self-protection.

Lynching is an everyday occurrence, rapes go unpunished because of loose laws that are discriminatory to women and indigenous people are often banned from entering public facilities, such as restaurants, because they are considered beneath the rest of society.

Violence is on the rise throughout the entire country of Guatemala.

Since 2001, more than 2,300 women have been killed in an epidemic of murders Guatemalans and activists call "Femicidos," according to The Boston Globe article, "Unsolved killings terrorize women in Guatemala."

While this serious issue has gained more media coverage-The Globe ran this story on the front page on March 30--the stories of indigenous populations have remained untouched, not only in Central America, but throughout the world. If the media wants to cover conflict, their own struggles are hardly the only stories to tackle.

With the War on Terror and the resulting deep division which has grown between the cultures of the west and Middle East, it is imperative that we keep the stories flowing from Iraq and its neighbors.

However, the media must recognize that the Middle East is but one region in a big world, and many remain faceless and desperate for their stories to be told.