Stories: Guatemala

  • Guatemalan women transform their town one brushstroke at a time

    Lidia Florentino Cumes Cumez greets visitors to her small, bright office with a giggle before grabbing a brochure and launching into a well-honed explanation of what it means to paint this entire town on the banks of Guatemala’s majestic Lake Atitlán.  “These are the base colors,” she said recently, displaying a palette...

  • In push to end child marriage in Guatemala, young women are on the front line

    In this remote village perched high in the hills of eastern Guatemala, a spunky 21-year-old in high-tops and skinny black jeans is holding court in a former coffee-processing plant. In front of Patricia Rossibel Cortéz Jiménez are dozens of girls, ages 8 to 18, who whisper and swing their feet beneath plastic chairs as she opens a weekly...

  • ‘I Want to Go Back’: In Guatemala, U.S.-Born Kids Struggle After Their Parents’ Deportation

    Amavilia remembers the United States. She remembers watching Dora the Explorer and eating ice cream at a Chinese buffet. She remembers hanging out with friends after school, living in a three-bedroom apartment, and speaking English. She also remembers what relatives told her about her parents' home country of Guatemala. "They told me [it was] a dangerous place," the 1...

  • When Family Ties Fray, Migrant Kids Can Land on Streets

    The community where Cristian Gomez grew up in rural Guatemala didn’t have traffic lights. So it wasn’t until he was 13, when he moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to live with his aunt, that he learned how to cross a busy city street. Back then, Gomez stood 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighed just 80 pounds. He didn&rsquo...

  • Guatemalan Families Wager Homes to Finance U.S. Migration

    Two years ago, Josefina Coyote was meeting with a lawyer in Guatemala City to try to prevent being evicted when she got a call from her neighbor in Patzun, a largely Mayan municipality about 50 miles west of the capital. The neighbor had just been forced out of her home. The man who evicted her had all the proper documents, Coyote...

  • Guatemalan Children Return From Mexico Shelters ‘in Very Bad Shape’

    The reunion lasts only a few minutes — just long enough for Marta to bury her face in her grandfather’s chest and for her grandmother to shed several tears. Then Marta and her brother, Sergio, who are in government custody, are ushered away. No words are spoken. None are necessary. The children are back in Guatemala. They failed...

  • Migrant Kids Highlight Legacy of Violence and Inequality Toward Maya

    Juan wears the same Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie he wore when he arrived in Guatemala City three days before. It was given to him in the United States. He keeps his other mementos from his northward journey, including a stack of CDs he has no way of playing, in the two-room structure his family once called home in Guatemala&rsquo...

  • A Homecoming Racked With Guilt and Shame for Guatemalan Migrant Children

    They arrive without shoelaces — Ana with her long hair, Juan with his nervous, darting eyes and Adan with his anger. Because they are children and are traveling alone, they are escorted from the airplane to a cordoned-off section of the main building at the Guatemalan Air Force base at La Aurora international airport. The government psychologist assigned to watch...