Checking for Motorcycle Helmets and Vests

Here’s your Guatemalan Spanish word of the day: Retén or check point.

We are a bit slow to implement stuff in Antigua Guatemala. The law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets and vest with the license plate numbers on them was past last year, but in Antigua Guatemala they are just getting around to enforce this national law. Perhaps, the municipal coffers are a bit empty or there was political pressure or who knows why, but now the municipal police is stoping motorcycle riders at the retén check points to make sure riders have their helmets and vests with them. Maybe, next year they will have check points to enforce the riders are actually wearing the helmets and vests while riding the motorcycles.

Of course, many Guatemalans believe this law was passed to punish the poor for not owning a car, although the law makes no distinction, many wealthy high profile politicians have been caught without wearing the vest and helmet. Others believe this measure will reduce crime and violence. I believe it is a good measure to force motorcycle riders to wear helmets for safety reasons, but to wear a vest and helmet with big license plate numbers on them, seems punitive for the majority of the population of motorcycle riders just to catch a few criminals, whom are likely to use fake numbers or not wear them anyhow. What are your thoughts regarding this law?

Rudy Giron: Antigua Guatemala &emdash; Police Check Points for Motorcycles

© 2014, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • El Canche

    It is sad to say that as social and moral integrity spiral downwards, there is usually an upward and equally powerful increase in frantic and ineffectual legislation to counter these social ills. Of course, the only law that works is a pure conscience in the hands of an empowered majority. If it hasn’t already been sold, then where is that to be found? OMG!…a bit gloomy today, eh?

    • It was a truly gloomy day indeed. It was the 60th anniversary of the coup-de-stat of the democratic government of Arbenz in 1954.

      This is what Lucía, a Guatemalan, shared with her followers on FB:

      Let me share some Guatemalan history with you non-Guatemalans and the importance of the 27th of June, 1954.

      Arbenz was a president that was elected by the people, and the only Guatemalan president that actually DID work for the people, he tried to give lands to people… and when those lands belonged to the United Fruit Company, the CIA got involved labeling this man as a “communist” and getting him to leave office, even shaming him on the way out in the airport. Many people that were close to him, that worked with him (including my grandfather) were forced to leave the country on the fear of getting killed.

      This action led to have military dictatorships, which later on became a conflict that lasted for 36 years in which more than 200,000 Guatemalans were killed.

      Let us remember this day not by the shame of it, but by the ideals and the things Arbenz wanted to accomplish, and hope that someone will be brave enough to follow on his footsteps.

    • Yes it was a gloomy day for sure. It was the 50th anniversary of the coup d’etat of Jacobo Arbenz. Sorry I am just getting to respond, but I have been attending my visiting mom. You know how that is. Here’s a video I shared elsewhere that day. Short documentary about CIA’s operation Success, Guatemala and the United Fruit Company.