U.S.-sponsored militarization and neoliberal policies will not lead to structural changes in Guatemala and instead preserve the status quo that forces many to migrate.
Gio B’atz’ (Giovanni Batz) writes in the NACLA website about poverty, oppression, and displacement as everyday consequences of U.S. policy in Guatemala and how migration is the inevitable outcome.
I had just arrived to Ilom, Chajul in June 2019 when I heard the news that the Minister of Governance had signed an agreement with the Trump administration to make Guatemala a safe third country. I felt disoriented. Speaking with an elder from Ilom, he told me about the women and children who had migrated within the past year, others who were recently deported, and those that still planned to go.
It is a three-hour bus trip on a muddy and bumpy dirt road from the town center of Chajul to Ilom. A little past half-way, one sees the construction of the Xacbal Delta dam and the fully operational Hidro Xacbal hydroelectric plant. Both are located on the coffee finca (plantation) La Perla, the land of which was stolen from the Ixil-Maya over a century ago and today is owned by the Arenas Menes brothers. Their father, Luis Arenas, was known as the “Tigre del Ixcan” due to his brutality and the harsh treatment of workers. The dams were built by the Honduran Grupo Terra conglomerate, owned by Fredy Nasser, who supported the 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. The dams will generate an estimated 155 MW combined and make millions of dollars in profits that will not benefit local communities. While these dams infringe on nearby communities, the energy is exported.
A resident of the La Perla finca states that there is no electricity where they live and that the finca owner requested that electricity only be made available to his home and administration office, but not to residents. Migrating to the United States is often an option to escape these harsh living and working conditions. Even then, remittances are not enough. Those whose families have lived on the finca for generations are not permitted to fix up their adobe or wooden houses. If anyone wants to put up a cinder block house, they risk getting kicked out of the finca. In other words, they are condemned to living in substandard housing conditions, or they have to leave.
You can read the full article, with links and photos, here, U.S. Policy Toward Central America Continues Legacy of Displacement.