October 6, 2014
10/05/16 New York Times
The smugglers advertised on the radio as spring bloomed into summer: “Do you want to live better? Come with me.” Cecilia, a restless wisp of a girl, heard the pitch and ached to go. Her stepfather had been murdered, forcing her, her mother and four younger siblings into her aunt’s tiny home, with just three beds for 10 people. It was all they had — and all a smuggler needed. He offered them a loan of $7,000 for Cecilia’s journey, with the property as a guarantee. “I gave him the original deed,” said Jacinta, her aunt, noting that the smuggler gave them a year to repay the loan, with interest. “I did it out of love.” The trip lasted nearly a month, devolving from a journey of want and fear into an outright abduction by smugglers in the United States.
September 22, 2014
09/21/14 The New York Times
TIERRA BLANCA, Mexico — Soon after crossing from Guatemala into Mexico last week, the group of Honduran migrants spotted the police swarming the freight train known as “The Beast” that has dangerously but reliably ferried tens of thousands of people north, clumped atop and hanging off box cars. So they walked through bushes and along riverbanks to avoid detection. And then they walked some more, 10 hours a day for several days, parched and so starved that they grabbed what fish they could from the streams and fruit from the trees.
October 7, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 10/4/2013
An alleged drug cartel leader suspected of masterminding the June slayings of nine Guatemalan federal policemen was arrested Friday in the southern Mexico border state of Chiapas, officials said.
The suspect, Eduardo Francisco Villatoro Cano, became one of the most wanted men in Guatemala after more than a dozen armed men believed to be allied with his drug-running organization stormed a police substation June 13 in Salcaja, a municipality near Quetzaltenango, the country’s second-largest city.
August 6, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 8/3/2013
The Mexican government is pledging to bring order to its wild southern border. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and the job couldn’t be more difficult.
The proof lies in this dusty border town of 14,000 people. Here, unmonitored goods and travelers float across the wide Suchiate River — the boundary between Guatemala and the Mexican state of Chiapas — on a flotilla of inner-tube rafts. They cross all day long, in plain sight of Mexican authorities stationed a few yards upriver at an official border crossing. Some of the Central Americans are visiting just for the day. Others are hoping to find work on Mexican coffee plantations or banana farms. But many will continue north toward the United States.
July 12, 2013
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is interested in investing in oil and natural gas exploration in Guatemala, a Guatemalan presidential spokesman said on Thursday.
Slim, who briefly visited the country on Wednesday, met with President Otto Perez to discuss investment options, which also include building a train line between southern Mexico and Guatemala, said spokesman Francisco Cuevas.”He expressed interest in exploring for natural gas and oil as soon as possible,” Cuevas told Reuters. “He also said that he would like to use public and private funds to build a rail line.” Slim, who owns telecoms company America Movil and topped Forbes magazine’s March list of the world’s richest people, runs his oil business through conglomerate Grupo Carso .
May 7, 2013
“While US immigration policy is a sovereign concern, the country does not function in a void. Major demographic, economic, and social changes are sweeping across Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that are altering the dynamics of the regional migration system and challenging the status quo.”
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May 6, 2013
Foreign Policy, 5/3/2013
When President Barack Obama meets with various Central American leaders in Costa Rica this weekend, he will likely face criticism of U.S. domestic firearm laws. Like Mexico, where he met with President Enrique Peña Nieto on May 2, Central American countries have increasingly raised concerns about U.S. firearms trafficking. They have good reason to do so: more and more arms that originated in the United States are being used in violent crimes across the region. And given the recent death of background check legislation in the U.S. Senate, Obama may find it difficult to reassure his critics that the United States is effectively tackling the problem at home.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on U.S. firearms trafficking and an analysis of related U.S. prosecutions, thousands of U.S.-origin firearms (firearms that were either manufactured or imported into the United States) are finding their way to criminals in Central America in the last few years. The flow of U.S. weapons is heaviest to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — all among the top 10 most violent countries in the world.
According to a new Woodrow Wilson Center report focusing on Guatemala, ATF discovered that 2,687 (or 40 percent) of the 6,000 seized firearms it analyzed from just one Guatemalan military bunker in 2009 originated in the United States. In the past five years, there have also been at least 34 U.S. prosecutions related to American firearms trafficking to Guatemala involving a total of 604 U.S.-origin firearms.