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Launched TUESDAY August 27, 2019 on zReportage.com. zReportage #710: Hunger Without Borders: Guatemala is one of the most unequal countries in Latin America, where poverty, corruption and violence has forced millions to leave their homes and head north in search of security. The worsening global climate crisis, drought, famine and the battle for disappearing natural resources are progressively being seen as major factors in the increase in the number of Guatemalan families showing up at the U.S. border seeking asylum. Almost half the population cannot afford the cost of the basic food basket. As a result, the prevalence of stunting in children under 5 is one of the highest in the world. At 46.5 percent nationally, the stunting rate peaks as high as 90 percent in the hardest hit municipalities. While two thirds of the overall population live on less than US$ 2 per day, poverty affects indigenous people disproportionately: 80 percent of them experience deprivation in multiple aspects of their lives, including food security, nutrition, health and education. Vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change, the regions extended dry seasons have had a severe impact on the livelihoods of subsistence farmers, who rely on rain-fed agriculture, especially in the Dry Corridor. The impact of lack of rain has been devastating. In 2018, drought related crop failures directly affected one in 10 Guatemalans, and caused extreme food shortages for almost 840,000 people, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. Entire families have been migrating in record numbers: since October 2018, more than 167,000 Guatemalans traveling in family groups have been detained at the US border, compared with 23,000 in 2016. Guatemala is facing serious challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on Zero Hunger, which includes the elimination of all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The human tide streaming to America's southern border may only grow in coming years as the impacts of climate change force northward migration.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
A Guatemalan couple looks back at the Guatemalan side of the border after a Mexican immigration official said they lacked proper documentation to cross into Mexico to do some shopping. As a 45-day deadline imposed by President Trump for Mexico to show progress in slowing migrants crossing to the U.S passed Monday, the administration of Mexican President Lopez-Obrador declared that Mexico has contributed to a 36.2 percent drop in migrant arrests at the US border.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Central Americans cross illegally into Mexico from El Carmen town into Talisman Wednesday. The migrants pay 50 cents per person, and dozens cross illegally on a tube boat every day, even as the administration of Mexican President Obrador claims to have reduced the flow of migrants heading to the US by more than 36 percent last month. Frustrated Mexican marines and immigration officers say that they have been reduced to observers, since they lack the judiciary tools to address the issue and even weapons to defend themselves against smugglers and traffickers.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Mexican marines and immigration officers check IDs of Guatemalan porters crossing goods illegally into Mexican territory on Wednesday. Hundreds of such crossings happen every day as the flow of migrants has moved to isolated spots along the Suchiate River, which marks the border between the two nations. Mexican President Lopez Obrador's administration claims to have reduced the flow of migrants looking to reach America, but much of the flow continues in remote border areas.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
With the help of porters, Central American families and their pets cross into Mexican territory on Thursday, even as Guatemala signed a treaty with the US designating it a 'safe' country for migrants.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Women wait for relatives just deported from the USA arriving at Guatemala City International Airport Friday on a flight filled with deportees. Guatemala recently signed a 'safe third country' agreement with the Trump administration, which allows the US to send asylum seekers to Guatemala, deemed 'safe' under the deal.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Guatemalan asylum seekers deported from the US wait for relatives as they arrived at Guatemala City International Airport Friday, still wearing the bracelets given to them at a detention center in Arizona. Guatemala recently signed a 'safe third country' agreement with the Trump administration, which allows the US to send asylum seekers to Guatemala, deemed 'safe' under the deal.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
A family hugs and cries as a relative just deported from Houston arrives at Guatemala City International Airport Friday on a flight filled with deportees from the USA. Guatemala recently signed a 'safe third country' agreement with the Trump administration, which allows the US to send asylum seekers to Guatemala, deemed 'safe' under the deal. Hundreds of asylum seekers are arriving in Guatemala each day. At least 30,000 have arrived so far this year. Guatemala is consistently ranked as one of the world's most dangerous nations.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Guatemalans burn an American flag in front of the Westin Camino Real hotel in downtown Guatemala City Tuesday, protesting the ''safe 3rd country'' agreement between Guatemalan president Morales and the Trump administration. Lawmakers convening in the hotel as Congress is undergoing renovation, were expected to vote on the accord but didn't due to lack of quorum. ''it will pass eventually, we can not fight the empire'', said one congressman referring to U.S. pressure.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Guatemalans protest the ''3rd safe country'' agreement between Guatemalan president Morales and the Trump administration in front of the Westin Camino Real hotel. Lawmakers convening in the hotel as Congress is undergoing renovation, were expected to vote on the accord but didn't due to lack of quorum. ''it will pass eventually, we cannot fight the empire,'' said one congressman, referring to the U.S.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Guatemalans protest the ''3rd safe country'' agreement between Guatemalan president Morales and the Trump administration in front of the Westin Camino Real hotel. Lawmakers convening in the hotel as Congress is undergoing renovation, were expected to vote on the accord but didn't due to lack of quorum. ''it will pass eventually, we cannot fight the empire'', said one congressman, referring to the U.S.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
VICTOR MANUEL PEREZ, 60, plows his drought-stricken corn crop with the help of his oxen, Pancho' and 'Max', near the Guatemalan town of Salama Sunday. In its fourth year of drought, this region known as the 'dry corridor' of Guatemala has sent the nation's largest number of migrants to the US, where an estimated 3 million Guatemalans, a sixth of the population, now lives.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
VICTOR MANUEL PEREZ, 60, plows his drought-stricken corn crop with the help of his oxen, 'Pancho' and 'Max', near the Guatemalan town of Salama Sunday. In its fourth year of drought, this region known as the 'dry corridor' of Guatemala has sent the nation's largest number of migrants to the US, where an estimated 3 million Guatemalans, a sixth of the population, now lives.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
MARCELO CAHUEC, 64, a former soldier and combatant during Guatemala's gruesome civil war, lives without a pension, takes care of his 9 cows and 2 goats in the drought-stricken land of San Miguel Chicaj on Sunday. In its fourth year of drought, this region known as the 'dry corridor' of Guatemala has sent the nation's largest number of migrants to the US, where an estimated 3 million Guatemalans, a sixth of the population, now lives. Seven out of every ten Guatemalans live in poverty, most of those indigenous people.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
OTONIEL REYES BREGANZA, 20, checks the kernels in a corn in a plot of land he leased to plant maize near the town of Rabinal Sunday, showing the severe damage caused by four straight years of drought in a region of Guatemala known asâ 'the dry corridor.' Otoniel said under normal conditions, his corn 'intended to feed his family of six for the next yearâ 'should be ready' to harvest but he now considers the crop a total loss. Otoniel is the youngest of 12 siblings, one of whom migrated to Pennsylvania three years ago. He makes extra money as a brick maker, where he gets .50 for every 100 bricks once they dry. The family survives with help from his mother, who washes clothes and the money wired from her son in the US once a year.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Abandoned plots and lost crops are visible all around the drought-stricken land. In its fourth year of drought, this region known as the 'dry corridor' of Guatemala has sent the nation's largest number of migrants to the US, where an estimated 3 million Guatemalans, a sixth of the population, now lives. Seven out of every ten Guatemalans lives in poverty, most of those indigenous people.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Lisandro's father, EDGAR PEREZ, shows a radiogram of his ill younger son Edgar Giovani in their one-room house in the neighborhood of Canton La Palma. Edgar is malnourished, has diabetes mellitus, but the core symptoms from last 3 years were diagnosed as pyelitis, which is a kidney infection. The parents are deep in debt, from another son's illness and now the addition of the smugglers fee, which they had pinned all their hopes on Lizardo making it to the U.S.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Eight days after being deported from the U.S., LISARDO PEREZ, 19, walks with his ill brother EDGAR GIOVANI, 14, by their house in the Canton La Palma neighborhood. After 8 years of falling coffee prices, and 3 years watching his younger brother suffer a debilitating illness that left the family in medical debt, they put all their hope in Lisardo taking a loan against their house. They used the loan to pay a smuggler to take him to the U.S. They hoped he would make enough money to save them. After crossing Mexico and spending 45 grueling days at a safe house in Tamaulipas, he was detained near Corpus Christi, Texas along with other 19 migrants, after the driver ran a red light. After 45 days in detention, he was denied an asylum request and deported.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Eight days after being deported from the U.S., LISARDO PEREZ sits by his mother ELIDA ESPERANZA, sister KARYN and brother EDGAR GIOVANI, at their house in the Canton La Palma neighborhood. After 8 years of falling coffee prices, and 3 years watching his younger brother suffer a debilitating illness that left the family in medical debt, they put all their hope in Lisardo taking a loan against their house. They used the loan to pay a smuggler to take him to the U.S. They hoped he would make enough money to save them. After crossing Mexico and spending 45 grueling days at a safe house in Tamaulipas, he was detained near Corpus Christi, Texas along with other 19 migrants, after the driver ran a red light. After 45 days in detention, he was denied an asylum request and deported.
© Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire
Miguel Juarez Lugo

MIGUEL JUAREZ LUGO has more than 20 years of experience as a photojournalist and has covered stories in Mexico, the U.S., East and Central Africa and the Middle East. His photos have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, NPR, Paris Match, El Pais, O Globo and Gara, among other outlets. He was the first Mexican photographer to be based in the U.S. for the Mexican newspapers Reforma and El Norte, covering the White House and Congress. He has worked extensively in Kenya, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Gaza, and most recently, Syria. Miguel is interested in the power of photography to communicate the humanity, emotion and complexity of a given moment, always with dignity and honesty, and always with the goal of bringing the viewer and subject closer together. He is currently based in New York and Washington, D.C. (Credit Image: © Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMAPRESS.com):710



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