Posts Tagged ‘Jakelin Caal Maquin’

Two children die in border custody

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

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





Jakelin Caal Maquin

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Many of us know the world of Jakelin Caal Maquin because our children are from villages like hers in Alta Verapaz. Their families are Q’eqchi, K’iche, Kaqchikel, Ixil, Mam, Tz’utujil, Chuj, Garifuna. They struggle in ways hard for us to witness, much less understand: The daily walks to the public pila for clean drinking water, the scarcity of protein, the homes that get washed away during rainy season, the inability to attend school due to the need to work, the lack of jobs beyond subsistence farming, the absence of any viable and lasting opportunity.

I read this paragraph in the New York Times and almost weep:

On paper, Guatemala is not poor; the World Bank classifies it as an upper-middle income country. But those statistics mask profound inequalities, the legacy of centuries of racism and economic control by powerful groups that even now resist attempts to soften the sharp edges of the country’s systemic discrimination.

We see it when we visit: the endless, crushing, inescapable poverty that defines the lives of indigenous Guatemalans. We hear it from our families, who tell us their only chance for a better life is to leave the country they love.

When I read stories like Jakelin’s, I remember my grandparents, who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Scotland and Ireland to America so their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would not go hungry and suffer the way they did. My father was the first of his strain of the O’Dwyer clan born on US soil. Today, I benefit from their brave sacrifices.

My heart breaks for the soul of Jakelin, for her mother and father, her siblings and cousins. Their family is my family. We are one.