Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Risking Death to Cross the Border

Approximately half of Guatemalans live in poverty, with Indigenous communities particularly affected. 

Most Guatemalans work in the informal sector, where wages are low. In Tzucubal, people earn up to 75 quetzals ($10) a day in the agricultural sector. For the minority who work in the formal sector, the minimum wage for non-agricultural work is about 3,000 quetzals a month.

 Guatemala has seen a sharp increase in the costs of goods and services; in Tzucubal, a pound of meat costs about 50 quetzals.

Critics say the Guatemalan government has done little to address the enormous migration wave

Congresswoman Andrea Villagran told Al Jazeera that the government appears “more interested in the remittances migrants send to sustain the economy”. Last year, the country received more than $15bn in remittances.

After the Texas tragedy, when confronted Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro about how the Guatemalan government would respond. The minister replied that Guatemala’s economy was “the most resilient” in the region.

Villagran called the timing of that comment “absurd”, noting that economic benefits do not trickle down to the people: “They migrants are the reflection of the great inequality.”

“The majority of children [from Tzucubal] go to the United States,” local teacher Cristobal Sipac told Al Jazeera, noting that children as young as 12 are deciding to migrate. “They finish 6th grade, but they do not want to continue studying, because there is no work here. So it is better to go there [to the US].”

Texas migrant deaths highlight growing desperation in Guatemala | Migration News | Al Jazeera

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