Unaccompanied Child Migrants

Surge in child migrants reaches New York, overwhelming advocates, By Kirk Semple, June 17, 2014, New York Times: “For more than a month, 16-year-old Cristian threaded his way from his home in rural Guatemala to the United States, hoping to reunite with his father, whom he had not seen in nearly four years. Guided by smugglers, he rode in cars, buses and trains, walked countless miles, dodged the authorities in three countries, hid out in dreary safe houses and went days at a time without food. But Cristian’s trip came to an abrupt halt in March, when he was corralled on a patch of Texas ranchland by American law enforcement agents. Now the daunting trials of his migration have been replaced by a new set of difficulties. Though he was released to his father, a kitchen worker in a restaurant in Ulster County, N.Y., Cristian has been ordered to appear in immigration court for a deportation hearing and is trying to find a low-cost lawyer to take his case . . .”

Child Hunger and Malnutrition in Guatemala

  • A national shame, August 27, 2009, The Economist: “It is hardly one of Latin America’s poorest countries, but according to Unicef almost half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished-the sixth-worst performance in the world. In parts of rural Guatemala, where the population is overwhelmingly of Mayan descent, the incidence of child malnutrition reaches 80%. A diet of little more than tortillas does permanent damage. This chronic problem has become acute. Higher world prices for food have coincided with a recession-induced fall in money sent back from Guatemalans working in the United States (remittances equal 12% of Guatemala’s GDP). Drought in eastern Guatemala has made things worse still. Many families can scarcely afford beans, an important source of protein, and must sell eggs from their hens rather than feed them to their children…”
  • Hungry in Guatemala, By Samuel Loewenberg, August 26, 2009, The Atlantic: “At the G8 meeting in Italy last month, the world’s richest countries agreed to devote $20 billion to food security and agricultural development. President Barack Obama declared that the ‘purpose of aid must be to create the conditions where it’s no longer needed, to help people become self-sufficient, provide for their families and lift their standards of living.’ The initiative was primarily spurred by concerns about the effects on struggling populations of global warming and the economic downturn. But it is also perhaps a reflection of Obama’s stated intent to put a greater emphasis on what his administration calls ‘smart power’ – diplomacy and development, as opposed to primarily defense – in his approach to foreign policy. Here’s an unlikely candidate to be the poster child for the new program: Guatemala. The Central American nation has the sixth-worst rate of chronic malnutrition in the world, despite being what might be described as a relatively well-off lower-middle class country…”