Today was our last day in Guatemala City, a day of goodbyes and of lots of travel. Not only did we travel, but before we left for Xela, we stopped by Casa del Migrante to learn about the struggles that migrants go through on their travels to a better life. Casa del Migrante is a safe house for migrant refugees that provides them food, water, clothing, shelter for a few days, telephone calls to family members, transportation, knowledge on their human rights, and health advice. Above all, Casa del Migrante is a support system that has houses in Mexico and throughout Central America that provide migrants with resources and moral support. In the Casa del Migrante that we visited, priests of the Catholic church visit and give mass for those that are religious. In the Casa, all migrants are welcome regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation. Casa del Migrante stands provides migrants with the most basic necessities, but they are necessities that many of these migrants are deprived of during their travel.
Carlos, the administrator of the Casa del Migrante in Guatemala City, told us the cruel reality of what most migrants suffer during their travel to the United States. Abuse of human rights against migrants is not only carried out by gangs and cartels, especially between the Guatemalan/Mexican border, but also by state oficials. Kidnappings, rape, forced joining of a gang, and asasinations are all possibilities that Casa del Migrante informs migrants of. The struggle throughout their lives turns into a struggle on their journey to finding a better life. After hearing the historical context in the first two days of being in Guatemala City, it is not surprising why so many Guatemalans take on the risk of traveling to a different country. The risk of staying in their home country and starving or not obtaining jobs to meet their needs is the option they are trying to escape by going to the United States.
While our group was traveling to Xela, I reflected on how easy it was for us to travel. The facility that we have to travel to another country comes from the privilege of being US citizens. For our group, the grant gave us the opportunity to travel to a different country for educational purposes. I know that I would not had the monetary ability to travel to another country for any purpose other than a family emergency. For migrants, travel to the US is something that takes courage and money. All migrants have courage because they know they are taking a risk by going to an unkown country and on an unknown journey. Something most migrants don’t have is money. Most migrants pool all of their resources and even take out loans in order to be able to pay for the journey. Unlike us, they cannot afford to travel comfortably and safely. As we were leaving Guatemala City, I saw buses filled with people, motorcycles with 3+ people, and other cars that were stuffed with people. Unlike us, they could not sit in a seat and fall asleep on their way to their destination.
I woke up once we were in Xela, not even noticing I had dozed off. The travel to Xela felt like a short one because of my nap, but I know the travel that migrants must undertake is not short. They cannot sleep comfortably even for a second. They do not wake up and are suddenly in the US. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to go to Guatemala and travel within the country to experience different cities. I am grateful I have an opportunity to do this through the college. I am grateful I had the opportunity to go to college, something that my migrant parents thought of when they undertook their journey to the US. I am grateful of the traveling they did and now of the traveling I am doing. It all goes back to that one decision to leave the country of origin and risk everything to have a better life. I am a product of that dream to have a better life and I hope I am making the risk my parents took worth it.