Stories from Quick Reads and Guatemala
The perils of crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are well documented, but for thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, crossing Mexico is even more dangerous.
To reach the US border, undocumented migrants from Central America undertake a dangerous 1,500-mile trip through Mexico, where they risk being kidnapped, assaulted or killed by the drug cartels, gangs and even the police. What happens in that journey?
This animation will take you through that journey, explaining the threats that migrants face to reach the “safety” of the US.
In an opinion piece for the American newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Global Voices contributor Jamie Stark wonders, “What kind of parent would pay $10,000 for a stranger to bring a child 1,400 miles through gangland and hostile border crossings? A good parent, perhaps.”
As a concerned citizen about the crisis of migrant children, Stark reflects:
What do we do with these kids? An important decision, to be certain, but one that overlooks the humanity, the story, of each child crossing our border.
When a parent from Central America hears the rumor that children are being allowed to stay in the U.S., it's not so hard to imagine spending life savings of $10,000 to $15,000 for a stranger to guide a son or daughter north.
These kids are not mere statistics. Many never wanted to be here in the first place.
Global Voices has published stories on this issue in the past:
– The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone
– An Open Letter to Salvadoran Migrant Children
– Trafficked Ecuadorian Children Pass Through Hell on the Way to the US
From Mexico, Katia D'Artigues, author of the blog Campos Elíseos (Champs Elysées), writes about the children who see themselves forced to emigrate on their own [es], and calls this a “humanitarian tragedy”:
Son niños que son orillados a cruzar la frontera solos. No lo hacen por aventura, sino porque muchas veces no les queda de otra, por pobreza; porque buscan reunirse con un familiar quizá su padre o su madre que ya está en Estados Unidos. Su número crece día con día. Ya se cuentan en miles y al menos un centenar son detenidos todos los días de acuerdo a cifras no oficiales.
They are children who are pulled to cross the border by themselves. They don't do it for the sake of adventure, but because most of the times they don't have any more choices, out of poverty; because they are looking to reunite with a relative, maybe their father or mother who is already in the United States. Figures grow day by day. They are already counted by the thousands and at least a hundred are put into custody every day, according to unofficial numbers.
She then adds:
Cómo están estos niños? Independiente de su estatus y nacionalidad son niños y tienen derechos. […] Lo cierto es que ya se estipuló que se les asignará un abogado gratis para ver su proceso que, como es obvio, es único en cada caso. Ahora, son solo 100 abogados que comenzarán a trabajar en diciembre de este año o enero de 2015.
No van a alcanzar.
How are those children? No matter their status and citizenship, they are children and have rights. […] It's established already that they will be provided an attorney for free to assess their process, which obviously is one per child. For now, there are only 100 attorneys who will start working by December this year or January 2015.
They won't be enough.
Guatemalan media is reporting [es] a quintuplet birth in Guatemala City. The babies’ weight, three girls and two boys, is between one pound with 9 ounces and two pounds with 12 ounces, a weight to be expected as they were delivered on the 29th week of pregnancy. They were immediately admited in the high risk neontal ward. The mother, Maria Magdalena Jiménez, had had previous conceiving difficulties, so she went through a fertility treatment, with the result of this multiple pregnancy. The babies have stable health conditions, but are under medical observation.
On Twitter, the multiple delivery didn't go unnoticed:
Maria Magdalena Jiménez, de 28 años, la madre de los quintillizos. Es el segundo caso en 5 años en un hospital del Seguro Social.
— Rudy-to González (@rgonzalez_eu) Mayo 30, 2014
28 year old Maria Magdalena Jiménez, mother of quintuplets. This is the second case in 5 years at a Social Security hospital.
Ampliación: Maria Magdalena Jiménez 28 años, dio a luz a quintillizos, 3 nenas y 2 varones en IGSS de Pamplona Z.13. pic.twitter.com/ZjN9UQwOpB
— Victor Alvarez (@valvarez969) Mayo 30, 2014
Update: 28 year old Maria Magdalena Jiménez, delivered quintuplets, 3 girls and 2 boys at Pamplona IGSS Z.13.
With a historic rule by a federal court in New York on May 22, 2014, former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail for money laundering and taking bribes from Taiwan.
— Prensa Libre (@prensa_libre) Mayo 22, 2014
VIDEO: Alfonso Portillo gets verdict of five year and ten months of prison.
With this verdict, Portillo becomes the first former Latin American ruler to be condemned and jailed in the United States.
In a new photo essay on MiMundo.org, photojournalist James Rodríguez follows residents of Pambach, Guatemala, as they receive the skeletal remains of six wartime victims who were “taken by the army after a military incursion to the village on June 3rd, 1982, during the de facto government of Efraín Ríos Montt, and were never seen again.”
The victims were exhumed from a mass grave in May 2012 and returned to their families on November 22, 2013.
Swedish photographer and journalist Linda Forsell has just started a Tumblr blog where she will be sharing her project “about young girls that have been sexually abused and have babies as a result of it.” Forsell explains:
Through a strong photographic depiction following the lives of a few of the young girls that are also mothers, I will depict the situation in Guatemala as well as give sexual abuse of girls in general, a face. They idea is to spend much time with 3-5 girls, dispersed over 3 trips to the country. I will aim to depict their normal lives with problems and hope. I will also do audio-recorded interviews to use as an addition in a final slideshow published on the web and hopefully through external media. The material will also result in an exhibition that I hope to travel from Sweden to Guatemala and abroad.
You can also follower her on Twitter.
Guatemalan journalists Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez was gunned down on Monday, August 19, 2013; he is the fourth journalist killed in Guatemala this year.
In an opinion piece [es] published in Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, UN's special rapporteur for freedom of expression Frank La Rue denounced “the recent wave of aggressions against journalists in the country,” as Alejandro Martínez reports in The Knight Center's Journalism in the Americas blog:
La Rue criticized the administration of President Otto Pérez Molina for failing to stem crime in the country, siding with private interests, persecuting social leaders and not protecting journalists from judicial harassment, lawsuits, threats, physical aggressions and killings.
“Today violence has turned toward the sectors of the press that hold critical positions toward those in power, because of their social function of investigating and informing, but this year's level of aggressions had not been seen in a decade,” said La Rue, who described the violence as a “step backwards for democracy and (the country's) peace process.”
On the 26th day of the historic Genocide trial against former de facto head of state Efrain Rios Montt and his Head of Intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, the prosecution and defense gave their closing statements and the main accused, Rios Montt, finally declared.
From the Patagonia to Havana, hundreds of computer users across Latin America are choosing freedom over control by installing free software on their computers. On April 27th, groups of free software enthusiasts will be installing free software in dozens of cities across Latin America as part of FLISOL [es], the Latin American free software installation festival.
One again, bloggers, hackers, designers, experts, as well as citizens interested in open data and transparency will meet to celebrate International Open Data Day 2015 all over the world to promote the opening of government data. The event is expected to have online meetings but also in-person activities all over the globe, requiring exceptional coordination and organization.
Faeriedevilish, blogging for School of Data, informs us on the Open Data Day festivities to take place on Saturday, February 21st in Spain and various cities in Latin America. Here you'll find information about the organization and event coordination in Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellín, Madrid, Mexico City, Xalapa, Monterrey, San Salvador, Panama City, etc., where many different activities will be held:
Alerta – Nos unimos a Abierto al Público: queremos que #datosabiertos se vuelva trending topic mundial en Twitter el 21 de febrero. Para lograrlo, las organizaciones participantes tuitearemos con este hashtag (y pediremos a lxs participantes que también lo hagan) el sábado 21 a partir de las 10:00 hora México, 11:00 hora Lima, 13:00 hora Buenos Aires, 17:00 hora Madrid. Importante: no usar el hashtag antes de esta hora.
Alert – We're meeting at Abierto al Público: we want #datosabiertos (#opendata) to trend on Twitter on February 21st. To do so, we'll be tweeting participating organizations with this hashtag (and we ask participants to do the same) on Saturday, February 21st starting at 10:00 in Mexico City, 11:00 in Buenos Aires, 17:00 in Madrid. Important: do not use the hashtag before this time.
Click here for more information on the International Open Data Day festivities.
In the Guatemalan department of Petén, a group of local women market natural products prepared with Maya nut, well known as natural medicine. The president of the producer association, Benedicta Galicia Ramírez, notes they “pick up the seed and then dry it, toast and grind it to make fluor”, and that the Maya nut enhances children growth, with food values higher than maize, beans, cassava and plantain.
This species grows in many American countries, from Mexico to Peru, and is very appreciated for its medicinal and nutritious attributes:
Video: Conoce el proyecto “Selva Viva”, de un grupo de mujeres que producen alimentos a partir del árbol ramón. http://t.co/7NwTAN9WIu
— Reforestamos México (@ReforestamosMex) junio 24, 2014
Video: Here we introduce the project “Selva Viva”, by a group of women who produce food items from the Maya nut tree.
— INFORMATYUC (@INFORMATYUC) junio 17, 2014
Here, the consumption of the Maya nut seed gets promoted.
Heavy rains on the early hours of Saturday, May 31, 2014 in the Guatemalan municipality of San Pedro Necta, in the department of Huehuetenango, 312 kilometers North from the country capital, resulted in landslides that destroyed homes and caused at least six fatalities and three disappeared individuals, as reported by Conred [es] (National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction):
Elementos de la quinta brigada de Conred, policías, gobernador departamental, bomberos y pobladores permanecen en el lugar para colaborar en la búsqueda de las personas que posiblemente quedaron soterradas.
Members of the Fifth Brigade of Conred, police officers, the department governor, firefighters and locals are still there to collaborate in the search for people who probaby remain buried.
According to an officer with Conred [es], 2014 rain season started in April and may end in November:
Hasta el momento, la época de lluvias en Guatemala, que se inició en abril y se estima concluya en noviembre, ha afectado a unas 2 mil personas y estas son las primeras víctimas mortales de la temporada.
Up to now, the rain season in Guatemala, that started in April and it's estimate to end in November, has affected about 2,000 people and these are the first fatalities of the [present] season.
The blog MiMundo.org, by James Rodriguez, writes about the eviction that took place in La Puya, San Pedro Ayampuc and San José del Golfo, in Guatemala:
After two years and two months of peacefully blocking the entrance to U.S.-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) El Tambor gold mine, local residents of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc were violently evicted by Guatemalan Police forces in order to introduce heavy machinery inside the industrial site. Led by the local women, members of the La Puya resistance prayed and sang until they were faced with tear gas. Numerous locals were injured and detained.
He also posts pictures of the events that took place during the eviction.
Stories are powerful. They define who we are and what we care about. When the stories that are told about us are positive, they can empower us. When they are desolate, they can make us feel insecure or question ourselves.
¡PODER! (Spanish word that means power) is a docudrama film, directed, written and edited by Lisa Russell, Emmy-winning filmmaker. This film tells the real life story of Elba Velasquez and Emelin Cabrera, two indigenous girls from Guatemala, who challenged the mayor of their small town of Concepción Chiquirichapa to create girl-friendly municipal public policies. These public policies ensure that the local government addresses girls’ unique needs in the areas of health, education, HIV prevention and culturally-relevant family violence prevention. According non-profit Let Girls Lead, only 10 percent of Mayan girls finish primary school and nearly half have babies before they turned 18.
On March 12, ¡PODER! had its world premiere at the United Nations 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.
The threatening, violation and denial of the undeniable rights the Q'eqchi [indigenous Maya community] have over the land they acquired by their own means so many years ago, together with the stunning violation of basic human rights by evidence of abuse of force, not possibly rested on legal means, are unacceptable crimes and require immediate counteraction by the international community.
On the website Intercontinental Cry, Juliana Maria Soares writes about the ongoing attacks on the Q’eqchi community Saquimo Setana of Coban in central Guatamala. These attacks, “including arson of houses, physical attacks on community members and the arrest of community leaders under false charges,” were reported by the Guatemala Solidarity Project. The organization has put together a petition on Avaaz to demand an end to these attacks.
“Development for who? Will the money stay in the community? No, it goes to fill others’ pockets, and we will continue to live in poverty. What we’re asking now is for the government to cancel all the [mining and hydroelectric] licenses that have been granted.”
In Upside Down World, Kelsey Alford-Jones, Executive Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (GHRC), writes about the resistance movement against proposed hydroelectric projects in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala.
As part of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Guatemalan indigenous people held peaceful protests around the country to demand that their rights be respected.
Cultural Survival reported on the peaceful protests which were held on August 9, 2013:
The general sentiment of the protests as sited by Indigenous leader Paulina Culum, was that they were “against the injustice, inequality, and corruption that have plagued [Indigenous] communities in Guatemala over the last 500 years, and continue to do so today”.
Among the extensive list of legal initiatives and requests that were purported during the protests, was the community radio movement’s bill 4087, which proposes the legalization of community radio in the country.
“If this case does not move forward, survivors of Guatemala’s genocide are being victimized all over again,” says Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams, co-founder of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. “They have taken a huge risk in testifying, and many have been harassed, intimidated and threatened. To annul the case would turn the clock back on justice—and would be a victory for impunity.”
Nobel Peace laureates are calling on Guatemalan authorities to proceed with the case against Efraín Ríos Montt. The trial against the former dictator and his former intelligence director was declared invalid last week.