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Sat Aug 2, 2014, 08:47 PM

Pres. of Guatemala:In Latin America, we know who is to blame for our child migrant crisis

In Latin America, we know who is to blame for our child migrant crisis

... and it's not the children. The US met Central American leaders recently to discuss the issue. Here, the president of Guatemala says the US shares responsibility because of its approach to the cold war and the drugs war

Otto Perez Molina
The Observer, Saturday 2 August 2014

Guatemala is a beautiful country blessed with a temperate climate, impressive landscapes, rich soils and plenty of water. Indeed, geography seems to have been a blessing for Guatemalans over thousands of years.

However, this does not seem to have been the case in the last six decades. On the one hand, the so-called cold war had one of its hot spots in Guatemala. Communist and anti-communist ideologies created in Guatemala one of the bloodiest conflicts in Latin America, with weapons and money mostly from countries outside the region. More damaging was that for decades governments diverted resources from social and economic programmes to security and defence. After 36 years of conflict, and after the end of the cold war, Guatemalans were able to live in peace and we started to invest limited public funding in bridging the social and economic gaps that prevented many families, Mayans in particular, from escaping poverty and social deprivation.

Nonetheless, after the curse of the cold war, we faced another war: the war on drugs. Again based on ideological motivations, this new war diverted scarce funding from policies to foster education, health and employment to programmes to block the flow of drugs from producer countries in South America to the consumer countries in the north. The failure of the war on drugs is widely recognised today, both for its limited capacity to stop drug flow, and its terrible consequences, expanding violence, corrupting institutions and weakening the rule of law.

In the last two months, there has been a media focus on what some call the "child migrants crisis". I am surprised that most narratives explaining why Central American children are migrating to the US quickly forget the cold war and the war on drugs as structural factors that explain why countries such as Guatemala have not been able to expand social services and economic opportunities to all. If the money and weapons invested in both wars had been invested in education, health and jobs, things would look different today. So, yes, there are structural factors that explain long-term trends of migration from Guatemala to the US. And, yes, these factors are related to lack of social opportunities and violence. But those who demand in the north more governmental responsibility in Central America should perhaps reflect on their ideological and material contribution to fostering political conflict and social violence in the isthmus over the last decades, using the cold war and the war on drugs as their most important policy vehicles. As a soldier, I fought in both wars, and believe me, the most important fight I have been in so far is neither of them (for the record: fighting malnutrition in Guatemala is the most important one).


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Reply Pres. of Guatemala:In Latin America, we know who is to blame for our child migrant crisis (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 2014 OP
Louisiana1976 Aug 2014 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Aug 2, 2014, 09:21 PM

1. The president of Guatemala is right. US involvement in both the Cold War and the Drug War

has messed up Guatemala due to the fact that scarce resources have gone into these conflicts instead of projects that would help the people. Hence the fact that children have been migrating to the US.

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