In August, Tim Flaherty (Guatemala 1974-76) published his Peace Corps memoir, Your Hand in My Hand: The Memoirs of a Former Peace Corps Volunteer. The opening sentence of the book jacket copy reads: “This very personal book/memoir has been written in order to inform people of the very dangerous locations where Peace Corps volunteers are sent throughout Latin America.”
Tim goes onto write, ” As a Peace Corps volunteer I lived in one such place called Asuncion Mita in the southeastern part of Guatemala, Central America. Many of the men from that region openly carry guns for their own protection. However, others very often use these armaments to threaten and kill people after little to no provocation or after becoming stone cold drunk. During my work in Asuncion Mita, I knew two neighbors whom were shot to death from point blank range just across the street from my residence. These victims of gun violence were just two of the many people I knew who were murdered and died tragic deaths. In another more gruesome occasion, a man who worked with me killed an assailant with his machete in self defense. Much of the American public think that Peace Corp assignments are often soft, ideal and pleasant locations that are devoid of any serious human conflict. However, nothing could be further from reality.
“The second reason for writing this story was to inform the American people of just how difficult it is to bring a child from a foreign country to the United States. Within this tale, the reader will learn why pay offs are made and why bribes are sometimes a very intrinsic part of daily pursuit and lifestyle. Throughout this story it becomes readily apparent that to confront a corrupt system, one must likewise resort to and dispense with the same reciprocal capability. While illegal activity isn’t condoned, it is anticipated that due to complications, readers will empathize and understand why these measures were taken.
“In June of 1974 at the age of 27, I fulfilled a life long dream of going into the Peace Corps. I served in the Central American nation of Guatemala up until December of 1976. During that time, after learning to speak Spanish, I traveled all over Guatemala and lived extensively at different locations both in the mountainous highland part of the country and the lowland semi-desert area. Not only is this book about bringing a child to the states, but also a reminiscence of my Peace Corps experience. This is a distinction made from the beginning of the story. The main focus of the story is my attempt in bringing my step-son, Santy back to America. Upon arrival in Guatemala City in October of 1979, I went to the US Embassy to commence with the paperwork of bringing my step-son Santy to the United States. However, Santy’s birth certificate clearly stated that he was born in Santana, El Salvador on June 22, 1972 and came with his mother to Guatemala as a one week old infant. A heavy penalty was assessed for anyone residing in Guatemala without documentation. I was faced with the prospect of being fined for Santy’s entry into Guatemala going back to June in 1972. But fortunately I made contact with two employees of Guatemala’s immigration office and they placed the necessary stamps and certification in Santy’s passport, all for a price.”
The book jacket copy sums up: Su Mano en Mi Mano as a suspenseful story right up to an improbable ending. It’s a story where David doesn’t slay Goliath, but out hustles him and beats him in a very high stakes game. Journey and discover with the reader the country of Guatemala, the Land of the Eternal Spring. It’s a story of the consequences when little men play with big guns, and where Guatemala’s sordid past with the Central Intelligence Agency is revealed. This is a triumphant tale where lasting friendships have been made, and of how one young child envisions the American dream. The memoir is only 170 pages and the book is self-published by CreateSpace. It sells for $10.00 at Amazon.