Talking with Guatemalan activists, academics, and social workers about migration, you often hear a four-sided schema. It’s a country of origin, meaning, many Guatemalans leave for other parts of the world. A country of transit, located on one of the busiest and most dangerous migrant routes in the world. Increasingly, it’s a country of destination for migrants and asylum-seekers from other parts of Central America, especially with increased immigration enforcement in the United States and Mexico. And it’s a country of return, for those deported.
The Association Pop No’j works with Mayan communities in western Guatemala from all of those angles, helping reunite families, support youth and children who’ve been deported, and educate migrants about their rights. Silvia Verónica Raquec, coordinator of their migration program, shows us pamphlets emblazoned with slogans like, “to migrate is a right, not a crime.” It’s about the right to migrate, she says, but also the right not to migrate; Pop No’j also works on issues of forced displacement, land rights, and economic and social opportunity for indigenous communities.
– Cora Currier