We woke up today and had our last breakfast at Hotel Spring. I had a plate of fresh fruit (mango, papaya, melon, and pineapple) which was much more sweeter than anything back in the states. The climate in Guatemala allows for essentially an eternal growing period, thus everything is routinely in season and perfectly ripe.
After breakfast, we drove again through the fast paced city to Casa de Migrante. Once there, we met the administrator of the organization named Carlos. Casa de Migrante is an organization that works to provide a safe and helpful place for immigrants who are both in the middle of their journey or have been deported and sent back to Guatemala with no options. Casa de Migrantes provides the people with food, a safe place to sleep, a phone to contact their families (when deported, the people are not given any opportunity to let their families know that they are coming home, thus they arrive in the capital with no way to get home), clean clothes, basic medicine or Red Cross if the case is serious, y tambien in some special cases they even provide monetary support.
We discussed many statistics of the migration and its effects on individuals and of Guatemala entotalmente. Migration is the result of many causes, but one of the most prominent is the lack of opportunities in Guatemala. Out of the 13 million people that live here, only 4.2 million have jobs. Out of the 4.2 million employed, only 22% are formally employed which means that the other 73% do not have job security. In addition, the economy is very unbalanced in Guatemala.
Carlos also explained an overview of the migration process. The cost to journey to US is currently about $8,000-$10,000 (US $). On the journey, the migrants risk human rights violations, their health, organized crime, and police, thus many are unable to complete their journey. In addition, out of the 300 Guatemalans who make it successfully to the US daily, 200 are deported.
In all, this conversation today made me really question my perception of immigration. I am incredibly in awe of the migrants. The stakes involved in migration is high. It results in the disintegration of families, exploitation, vulnerability, marginalization, discrimination, and health costs. Why would anyone willingly choose this route?? The only words approriate to describe these individuals are adjectives such as: courageous, driven, brave, ect.
After our conversation with Casa de Migrantes we left the capital and headed to Quetzaltenango (commonly referred to as Xela– pronounced Shela) which was about 4-5 hours away. Despite how sleepy I felt, I could not manage to catch any sleep on the ride solely because of how absolutely the stunning the scenery was! Once at Xela, we checked into our hostel (The Black Cat) and then went out for dinner (as usual delicious!) After dinner we came back to the hostel and watched a documentary called, “Harvest of Empire.” This movie connected with the days theme of migration and its causes. What made this documentary distinctive was the fact that it highlighted the many correlations between US interference and interest in Central America and migration trends. I cannot describe this film in justice here, so it will suffice to say that this should be required viewing for all Americans. If this were to happen, the way that we (as an entire nation) treat immigrants would be vastly different.