In June of this year, Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego erupted with catastrophic consequences. Over two months after the eruption, the death toll from the volcano was 165, and 260 people were still missing as villages were flooded with ash and lava. In total, more than 1.7 million people were affected by the deadly eruption (World Vision, 2018). In 1985, Colombia’s Nevado del Ruíz volcano in the Andes mountains erupted resulting in one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in modern history.
Last Tuesday January 9th, 2018, the Trump administration delivered another blow to recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), this time to over 200,000 Salvadorians living and working in the U.S.
Over 50,000 people have died worldwide due to kidney failure with unknown etiology, alerting healthcare professions and public health workers to an epidemic that may also be linked to the changing climate. The abnormally high number of deaths are concentrated in Central America. In the past two decades, public health workers and other officials have estimated that over 20,000 people have died in Central America and many of these people do not possess the usual risk factors of hypertension and diabetes for kidney failure.
“I saw the [drug cartel] kill someone on the street as I was leaving school. They saw me running away. The threats started this day. They told me if I said anything or moved, they’d kill me. They’d look for me, find me and kill me. The[y] had raped me twice, kidnapped me four times, beat my partner, and mistreated me in so many other ways. They’d said they’d kill me. They also said if I didn’t leave, they’d find my family and kill them, too. So, I decided to go.” Anya, a woman who has fled Honduras, quoted in the UNHCR Women on the Run Report. October 2015).
Sweet sounds of a wooden instrument ringing throughout the airport caught my attention as I got off my flight in Guatemala City in the summer of 2016. As I turned the corner, I saw the source of this joyful music that breathed happiness being played on a large wooden xylophone-looking instrument, which I later learned was called a marimba, by a group of Guatemalan men underneath a large sign that said, “Bienvenidos a Guatemala” (Welcome to Guatemala).
Desde su independencia en 1821, Costa Rica se ha mantenido como uno de los países centroamericanos con menor cantidad de conflictos graves. Esa estabilidad, sumada a condiciones económicas favorables, han hecho que el país haya sido y sea un refugio para muchos inmigrantes centroamericanos. Durante los años setenta y ochenta, por ejemplo, fue el refugio de muchos nicaragüenses que huían de la dictadura de los Somoza primero, y de la revolución sandinista después (Adolfo, 2009).
The US immigration crisis is the result of a violence crisis in Central America. But the violence has not reached all parts of Central America, and thus the migrants are primarily coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In these countries, a LAPOP study (using UN data) shows murder rates much higher than in the rest of the region and in Honduras that rate has reached almost 10 times that of Panama, Costa Rica, and most surprisingly, Nicaragua. What explains the Nicaraguan exception?
Between the months of July and August of this year, in some parts of Latin America, there was no rainfall for 45 continuous days. While reservoirs and water systems are in place in most large cities across Central and South America, agriculture during those months suffered greatly. Across Central America, some of the poorest countries are being hit the hardest: 236,000 families in Guatemala, 120,000 in Honduras, 100,000 in Nicaragua and 96,000 in El Salvador are facing the repercussions of a long and unusual dry season.1
This upcoming September, eligible Guatemalans will be voting for several heads of state including President, Vice President, 158 Congress deputies, and 338 mayors. With increasing rates of poverty, crime, and violence, the next wave of elected officials will play a major role in the country’s direction and future. Perhaps the most important of these will be the selection of the president-elect and the agenda he or she pursues. However, the pool of hopeful candidates (as can be seen below) appears less-than-ideal.
While many eyes are turned towards the humanitarian crisis engulfing the Middle East and extending into Europe, many have lost focus on the humanitarian crisis that is taking place in the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Although less immigrant children from the Central American countries of Guatemala due to tougher border control, Honduras, and El Salvador are being apprehended at the U.S./Mexico border, that does not mean less children are attempting the journey.