By Mayra Beltran de Daetz
GUATEMALA: In September, Guatemala was caught up in the difficult decision of choosing a suitable political leader to govern the country.
It was difficult because no one had the minimum qualifications wished by the Guatemalans. Yet, in the middle of making such a hard decision there arose a newfound hope for the country â€” not in the form of a politician, but of a young singer.
This young Guatemalteco, who after competing against hundreds of singers with the same dream of being chosen as the winner of the Argentina-based version of the U.S. talent program, American Idol, has captured our attention.
For the whole country, the talent competition, Latin American Idol, with this young man representing all of us, has made us feel very proud and has breathed into the country a new sense of national pride uniting us in the knowledge that there are still Guatemalans who can take our country to great heights.
I speak of Carlos PeÃ±a, a charismatic 19-year-old young man who has become identified with the country and who has had the good fortune of attracting the support of many people and some of the greatest companies in Guatemala.
On Carlosâ€™ recent visit to Guatemala, when he was still a finalist, it was possible to see just how proud Guatemala was of him: At the airport, hundreds of people took time out of their day to welcome him home at the airport, long lines greeted him at area shopping malls waiting to get his autograph, and in spite of his tight agenda, he visited mass media outlets and places of his childhood.
Yet, the most obvious sign of how this young man has generated national pride in our country was when our President recognized him.
Many Guatemalan companies supported him by publishing ads, inviting Guatemalans to support Carlos by sending text messages voting for him. This was the way Latin American audiences were to vote for their favorite singer.
PeÃ±a, 3rd from right, waits to hear the final decision.
All of Guatemala watched as Carlos reached his dream, and the dream of many Guatemalans when on Thursday, September 27, it was announced by the showâ€™s host that Carlos was the new â€œLatin American Idol.â€
The news caused a big joy. There were celebrations in different restaurants where his fans met.
Front pages of Guatemalan newspapers showing in Guatemala City 28 September 2007, the victory of pop singer Carlos PeÃ±a in the TV contest Latin American Idol, broadcasted from Buenos Aires. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA
Carlos is a great example for the youth of Guatemala, if not for all of Latin America.
I wish him much success and hope that he takes advantage of the opportunity that life has presented to him.
Learn more about Mayra:
Mayra Etna BeltrÃ¡n Molina de Daetz is a native-born Guatemalan who lives in Guatemala City with her husband and teenage son. After attending one of the most noted secretarial schools in the country, Mayra graduated with a secretarial certification â€” and the ability to speak and write English, as well as, know French.
Yet, she wanted more of a career and so she took architect and graphic design classes at a local university in Guatemala City. Unable to finish her university studies due to finances, Mayra became a stewardess and has over 100 hours in the air.
Yet, she always wanted to be involved with the media and so she returned to school and was able to get a degree in sales and marketing.
As a result, she has worked for a weekly magazine and a newspaper.
I have had opportunity to attend International congresses, in which I have known very important people at the more important international newspapers, which has been a very gratifying experience and has allowed me to have friendships outside of my country.