The Birth of an Idea
Today, Guatemala is living one of the toughest moments in its history, only a few days away from its upcoming and consequential elections, alongside corruption scandals that implicate President Pérez Molina.
The uncovering of a network of customs fraud is accompanied by an unending wave of thousands of violent deaths every year. Most crimes go unpunished, while the streets become saturated with public protests in the face of such complex, difficult, and distressing circumstances.
In fact, as I am writing these lines, from my window I can see hundreds of people on the streets and can hear their amplified voices from the megaphones in their hands.
It is the most photogenic country in Central America, as well as the birthplace of my maternal grandfather, Clemente Alpírez Garay. I am fascinated each time I visit its cities and landscapes. I delight in the company of its extraordinary people and bask in its culinary and cultural richness.
That is why today, from the capital city, on the sixth floor of the Camino Real Hotel, I recall a proposal we made in Antigua on June 1, 2007, when we presented the idea of changing one letter in the name of their great nation, before a group of Guatemalan officials.
Just one “L” separates Guatemala from Guatemaya, a name that would encompass its historical legacy, its diversity, and allure before the world. A country rebranding that would make all the difference for its global positioning. Everything changes at a dizzying pace, so what would be so strange about changing the name and the meaning of a country’s name with one letter?
The power of words is immense. That is why the phrase “de Guatemala a Guatepeor” (“from Guatebad to Guateworse,” literal translation from Spanish), which refers to a situation that is worse than the one preceding it, suggests a problem in the original word. The word “mala” (bad) is contained within its letters, which is conducive to a feeling that suggests the opposite of good.
However, Guatemaya is only one letter away. Changing the “L” would imply positive news around the world, having an impact of unimaginable proportions with the smallest effort possible. It would be a small and cost-free contribution with huge and valuable returns.
The tourist appeal alone from the change in this one letter holds the potential to generate a rare economic effect for this wonderful country. The entire world would focus its eyes on Guatemaya, when they discover that the legacy of that extraordinary civilization is still alive and waiting to be discovered.
A Guatemalan would become a Guatemayan. The national soccer team would be known as the Guatemayan, and when the young delegation finds itself at a match, no further introduction will be necessary. The difference is just a single letter which has the potential to be the spark for millions of Guatemayans who are currently facing a time of important decisions.
With the utmost respect towards our sister nation of Guatemala, even in the midst of a national crisis of grave proportions, I invite you to once again consider the implications of making a simple change from an L to a Y, all with the higher purpose of making a logical, meaningful, and consequential difference.
This is simply an idea and it deserves a Guatemayan movement at just the right moment.