Guatemala: Hunger worse than economic crisis

The Catholic bishops' conference of Guatemala released a statement entitled "Blessed are the Peacemakers", which expresses the conclusions of their most recent assembly. The bishops stressed the need to promote "a new model of development and a new vision of economy to achieve integral development, solidarity and sustainability."

According to the bishops of the Central American nation, the government must "offer the country a national project in the short, medium and long term, laying the groundwork for future prosperity and quality of life of Guatemalans, especially young people and children."

The bishops' Jan. 26 document noted that "it is necessary to reform the laws governing investments in the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources of the country, so that these economic activities are actually able to improve the Guatemalans quality of life." The hunger suffered by thousands of Guatemalans, especially children who are victims of chronic malnutrition, "is an affront to human dignity of all those who suffer" and is "more serious than financial crisis."

The bishops criticized the Guatemalan congress for its failure to pass legislation on rural development, which is the "urgent solution" to the situation of hunger and exploitation suffered by thousands of peasant families. "The refusal of the discussion and eventual approval of the bill on rural development prepared with various sectors representing the interests of farmers, shows that lawmakers must take seriously their responsibility and mission to be true representatives of the people " write the bishops.

Guatemala, ironically, is one of the most fertile countries on the planet. Because of its topography and its location in the tropics, tropical crops ranging from cardamom, coffee, bananas, pineapples, and avocados grow in abundance, along with staples from temperate climes such as apples and wheat. The country, long known as one of the 'banana republics', has suffered the effects of monoculture in its agrarian sector for over a century as well as corrupt government. A fratricidal war between rightists and leftists left thousands dead, especially among its Native American peoples, in the years between the 1954 coup d'etat and the signing of a peace pact in the 1990s.

Guatemala is one of the biggest sources of illegal immigrants to the United States. Many of them take the extremely risky trip by riding on top of freight trains from Central America through Mexico, and then attempt to cross into the U.S. by paying bribes to criminal gangs. Many of them are murdered and raped on the way to 'El Norte.'

 

See the document in Spanish here.



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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