Guatemala

In Guatemala, A Bad Year For Corn — And For U.S. Aid

Sep 30, 2019

In a good year, Jesús García Ramos can feed his family all year on the corn that he grows in small fields around his home in the Guatemalan village of Quilinco. But this was not a good year.

On a visit in August, I met García Ramos in the field behind his house, where I found him hacking down dried-out yellow corn stalks with a machete. He had planted the corn in March. But then it didn't rain in June or July, the crucial months when kernels form on the cob. He expected his yields would be about half what he'd expect in a good year, or maybe less.

For Carlos Marroquín, the chickens are all that's left.

For the past several years, Marroquín has struggled to feed his wife and five children with the proceeds from their 10-acre corn farm. They live in a mud-brick house with a sloped terra cotta roof, nestled among pines, acacias and prickly pear cactus in Guatemala's mountainous northern Quiché region, part of the country's Dry Corridor that has been gripped by a multiyear drought.

Guatemalans have chosen Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative who once led the country's prison system, to be their next president.

Voter turnout in the runoff was low on Sunday in the small, Central American country. Preliminary results showed Giammattei won nearly 58% of the vote and that fewer than half of eligible Guatemalans had cast ballots, according to the country's electoral tribunal.

The Trump administration is actively investigating imposing a travel ban against Guatemala unless the Central American nation takes significant steps to curb illegal migration northward.

A former Guatemalan first lady is the front-runner following Sunday's presidential election in the Central American country, where the electorate is hoping to find a candidate who can tackle its high unemployment, violence and corruption.

Updated at 5:13 p.m. ET

President Trump's call to cut aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is raising concerns among lawmakers and national security and development experts, who say cutting aid will exacerbate the migrant crisis that is already crippling U.S. resources at the Southern border.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET Wednesday

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala has died in government custody, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says.

The boy died just before midnight on Monday, at a hospital in Alamogordo, N.M. He is the second child this month to die in CBP custody after being apprehended by the agency.

The Guatemalan Foreign Service has identified the boy as Felipe Gomez Alonso, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

Updated at 4:57 p.m. ET Friday

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who crossed the southern border into the United States illegally earlier this month died of dehydration and shock after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in New Mexico.

Thousands of Guatemalans are evacuating their homes as the Volcán de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, erupts again near the city of Antigua.

The volcano has erupted repeatedly this year. In June, more than 100 people were killed in a violent eruption that spewed lava, ash and rocks over nearby villages.

Updated at 5:45 a.m. ET Monday

A growing crowd of Central American migrants in southern Mexico resumed its advance toward the U.S. border on Sunday. The numbers have overwhelmed Mexican officials' attempts to stop them at the border.

The Associated Press reports that the number of migrants has swelled to about 5,000, but an official in Mexico has put the number as high as 7,000.

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