In his 1884 address to the National Assembly, President Justo Rufino Barrios gave a glowing report of a polity fired by the torch of Liberal progress. “When I see the movement and the animation in everything and everywhere, in our streets, in our plazas, in our roads and in our ports, I cannot repress a feeling of vanity.” He extolled not only commerce and new technology, but model prisons, a disciplined professional army, and “a school in the most miserable town and in the most hidden corner.” This is a world of flowing capital, technological linkages, and the ceaseless penetration of enlightenment into every corner of the Republic, where before there had been only a “dark mansion of apathy, of immobility, of stagnation and silence,” and where now we (Guatemalans) “can say that we have–if not everything–almost everything.” The Utopian rhetoric masked a rather different and sorry reality. Still, to paraphrase Benedict Anderson, the succession of possessive plurals in Barrios' speech–our streets, our plazas, our roads–assured the listener of a solid sociological and political entity that can only be Guatemala. Surely Barrios spoke from the solid foundations of a Liberal nationalist certainty?
Palmer, Steven. (1993). Central American Union or Guatemalan Republic? The National Question in Liberal Guatemala, 1871-1885. The Americas, 49 (4), 513-530.
Available for download on Monday, June 01, 2093