Two children die in border custody

There is so much information embedded in this NY Times article by Elizabeth Malkin about the Guatemalan government’s muted response to the now two deaths of children in US Border Custody it’s almost hard to absorb it all. Excerpts:

“The reason for the government’s reticence… is … Guatemala’s centuries-old discrimination against its indigenous Mayan communities.”

President Trump has threatened to cut aid to Guatemala if President Jimmy Morales doesn’t stem the flow of migrants to the US. President Morales is reported to be less concerned with decreased aid from the US than with US support for his ousting CICIG (the international anti-corruption tribunal). To that end, says the NYT:

“For more than a year, Mr. Morales and his government have been carefully developing allies in Washington, nurturing ties with evangelical groups and conservative legislators.”

The Times reports that the deaths of two children following their dangerous migration to the US have underscored the

deep failures of successive Guatemalan governments to improve conditions for the country’s poorest people, particularly the indigenous Maya who make up at least 40 percent of the population.”

Says Anita Isaacs, a Guatemala scholar at Haverford College:

“We have a de facto apartheid society. This country continues to be almost as racist as it has been historically… These lives are worth less, and these people are fundamentally invisible.”

Why is this true? For many reasons, but one is that the land on which the indigenous have lived and farmed for generations is valuable and coveted. Recently, palm oil plantations have begun encroaching on properties in order to develop them. Says Anita Isaacs:

“Historically, these communities have been evicted to make way for cash crops like sugar or coffee. What better form of eviction than them leaving the country completely? That’s a major reason why the Guatemalan government doesn’t care.”

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

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