October 25th, 2007
Childbirth isn’t an easy process for any woman, but an article I came across this morning highlights the problems women, mostly Indigenous women, face in rural Guatemala. Part of the problem is poverty, made worse by machista attitudes towards pregnancy and childbirth
….in Guatemala, where 1 in every 71 women who becomes pregnant during her lifetime dies from causes associated with pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. In the Latin America-Caribbean region that’s second only to Haiti, where the risk is 1 in 44. Often women in difficult labor are carried down in a hammock by menfrom the 16-family community, a journey that takes about two hours. Once they reach the nearest passable road, they could try to flag down a ride. But more often they would still have to walk the rest of the way as well, taking at least another four hours.
October 5th, 2007
Let me come clean. I have problems with transnational and transracial adoptions. There, I said it. I think the system is racist on a number of levels. The president of Guatemala has some concerns too, leading him to suspend adoptions starting in the new year.
The country’s president said he is taking the measure — seen by some as extreme in that it ignores the fate of what will quickly be thousands of abandoned children — amid growing concerns about the current system, which opponents say has led to paying mothers for children or coercing them to give up their babies.
An average of 17 children born in Guatemala leave the country for the United States every day with the parents who adopted them. Guatemala has long been considered a place where adoptions are relatively fast and uncomplicated. The Central American country is behind only China in the number of children adopted out to American families every year.
Guatemala has the highest per capita rate of adoption of any country in the world. One of every 100 children born in the country is adopted internationally. American officials say 5,000 adoptions have been approved this year, an all-time high for Guatemalan adoptions to the U.S. American officials also say that last year’s 4,000 adoptions were legal and untainted by any problems.
September 10th, 2007
While here in the U.S. we watched Democratic presidential candidates pander to Latino voters, voters in Guatemala were casting their ballots for president. 96 percent of votes have been tallied, and as per usual in Latin American elections, there will be a run-off. Businessman Alvaro Colom will face off with conservative ex-General Otto Perez in the segunda vuelta on November 4th.
The most internationally-known candidate in the 2007 Guatemalan elections, Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, didn’t fair well at the ballot box, receiving a mere 3.4% of votes.
Menchu points to a “fear of the indigenous” as the reason for her poor showings at the polls. In an exclusive interview with AP, Menchu says:
With 42 percent of the population “we indigenous people are a majority and that’s why they are afraid that if I make it, it will be dangerous. They use a fake fear like with Evo Morales, that Evo Morales is going to come and start an uprising among farm workers,” said the presidential candidate on Saturday.
According to Mexico’s El Universal, it is that same fear that had her being asked time and time again during her campaign about her relationship indigenous leaders, Hugo Chavez and Evo himself.
Via / Forbes and El Universal
Image via Edgarin’s Flickr page
July 23rd, 2007
Every year thousands of undocumented people pass into the U.S. through the border with Mexico, and not all of them are Mexican. Many begin their journey in their homelands in Central America, and in order to reach U.S. territory must become, in the words of Los Tigres del Norte –“dos veces mojados” — crossing not one border but two. Central Americans entering Mexican territory do not have it easy, and allegations of abuse on the part of Mexican officials has been a catalyst for a demand by Mexico’s Human Rights Center for the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) to investigate the allegations:
In a press release, the National Center for Human Rights announced that there have been numerous complaints filed against military personnel and INM [Mexican Immigration authority) officials for stealing of money, physical and sexual aggression against Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans without CNDH having ever addressed the problems.
February 22nd, 2007
While the U.S. is caught up in the Obama vs. Hillary for president game, many Guatemalans are celebrating the announcement that Nobel Peace Prize laureate and indigenous activist Rigoberta Menchu will run for president of their country:
Rigoberta Menchú said Wednesday that she will run for president of Guatemala, backed by a center-left coalition, in an attempt to become the second indigenous leader of a Latin American nation.
Menchú, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and defender of the Mayan victims of the brutal civil war that tore through Guatemala between 1960 and 1996, will participat in the September 9th elections together with the Juntos por Guatemala coalition and Winaq, a newly formed indigenous political party.
August 28th, 2006
What I love (really hate) about the report in yesterday’s New York Times about hate crimes against the Guatamalan community in West Palm Beach, Florida, is how right in the headline the fact that the crime victims are undocumented is highlighted (as “illegal”) as if their undocumented status makes it ok that they are being attacked. While the article attempts to make the point that the undocumented status of many Guatemalans makes them easy targets because of their distrust and fear of the criminal justice system, the fact that the NYT chooses to constantly use “illegal” as an adjective to describe the victims in an underhanded way lays the blame on the Guatemalans.
With such crimes on the rise — they are common enough to have a chilling street name, “Guat-bashing” — the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, Fla., and the Guatemalan Consulate in Miami, along with local law enforcement agencies, religious groups and banks, are working to help illegal immigrants from Guatemala protect themselves.
While the robberies, beatings, and even killings of immigrants are labeled as crimes, they are never called illegal. That label is saved for those being robbed, beaten, and killed. And nowhere are the real illegal activities being called hate crimes, which is exactly what they are since they target one specific population.
Via / The New York Times (Registration Required)
June 14th, 2006
Over the last five years at least 2,000 mujeres have been murdered in Guatemala. The majority of these women have been poor young women found with body parts missing including their breasts. So is Guatemala becoming another Ciudad Juarez, Mexico? And why is the mainstream media not covering this story? The answer is that obviously the mainstream media doesn’t consider the murders of Latina women important but a delegation of U.S. advocates does and will be travelling to Guatemala to call attention to the crimes against women there and to the fact that over the past five years only 14 of these murder cases have been solved. Juana Batzibal, a human rights lawyer with the Center for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH) in Guatemala City said:
The gall with which these women are killed is telling women that they shouldn’t be on the street, that they should go back home.
May 4th, 2006
Colombian rocker Juanes and Mexican actress Salma Hayek joined forces with actress Ashley Judd this week to raise awareness about AIDS in Guatemala:
“I know that there is misinformation, that there is a stigma and superstitions that only contribute to the spread of AIDS,” Judd, world ambassador for the Washington-based YouthAIDS group, said while visiting an AIDS clinic run by Maryknoll nuns in the town of Coatepeque, 165 kilometers (100 miles) west of Guatemala City.
Fellow actress Salma Hayek and Colombian singer Juanes, who also represent the group, were expected to join Judd later Tuesday. The three planned to stay in Guatemala for several days, during which time they will meet with President Oscar Berger to discuss the AIDS situation in the country. Judd and Hayek will then continue the tour in Honduras and Nicaragua.
Salma had been scheduled to fly out to Guatemala earlier, but postponed her trip in observance of the May 1 boycott on Monday.
Via / Pravda.ru
Photo via TVSquad.com