Guatemalan town revives the pogrom tradition
THE MUNICIPALITY of San Juan la Laguna in Guatemala voted last week to expel its strictly Orthodox Jewish community of 32 families — around 200 people.
Misael Santos, the representative of the Jewish community, said: “We don’t have anywhere to go. If we don’t leave, they’ve threatened to cut off our water and electricity.”
Locals had reportedly complained to the municipality that their indigenous Mayan traditions were threatened by the use of a public water facility as a mikveh and by the ritual of kaparot — in which a rabbi swings a chicken around his head before slaughtering it.
Earlier this year, Jewish community members claimed that they had been asked to sign up to a municipal registry, verifying whether they were legally allowed in Guatemala. They added that they had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse and the windows of a house had been smashed with rocks.
Mr Santos told the newspaper Prensa Libre that residents of the town had uploaded pictures of Hitler to a local website and had warned the Jews that they would put them in ovens.
“They asked us to get out of town because they said that we kidnap children and said the town would be invaded by Jews,” he said.
Anemergencymeetingwasarranged for August 27 between the San Juan la Laguna authorities and the Office of Civil Rights (PDH) to resolve the issue.
In a communiqué issued last week, the PDH said it considered the expulsion of the 32 Jewish families illegal because it contravened the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Guatemalan Constitution.