Today, we visited Casa del Migrante (Migrant House) Where the speaker gave a brief presentation on Guatemala’s economic condition, the vulnerability of migrants while crossing borders (Guatemala to Mexico & Mexico to USA), and the objectives of Casa del Migrante. The staffs go to the airport to pick up the deported migrants who cannot afford to return home. They provide accommodation, food, and sometimes monetary support to those migrants.
The speaker said that Guatemala has a positive macroeconomic performance. For instance, its inflation rate is 5% and the unemployment rate is 4.5%. However, the statistics are inaccurate because 73% of the population works in informal sector, with an insecure income. Hence, the data alludes that only the richest Guatemalans are controlling majority of the income. In the presentation, there is a picture of a millionaire holding leashes of multiple dogs with the name of different Guatemalan newspaper names. The picture demonstrates the monopoly power and their tremendous power in controlling all sectors in the country, including the government. In addition, accepting more international companies to exploit the natural resources further worsen the local economy and the Guatemalans’ life. Due to the above reasons, Guatemala has had a high rate in migration, however, the government has not been developing plans to help decrease the percentage except welcoming the deported migrants when they arrive from the airport.
The Guatemalans only want the government to address the root of economic problems, to be more accessible to credit, as well as to provide technical support in agriculture and diversify their options in plantation. Therefore, I think the government should not attempt to strengthen their economy in short period of time. Instead, they should understand the public will and set up 25 years plan for improvement. Guatemala is a country with rich natural resources and potential, therefore, something the government should start to decrease income disparity by setting up taxation (there is only sales tax and maybe few others taxes in the country), creating contracts with international companies requiring them to purchase lands (where found natural resources) and paying the labors with at least a minimal wage, starting welfare programs, and etc.