For 23 years, Father Mauro Verzeletti has been a clear defender of migrants in Guatemala. As director of the Casa del Migrante, he has given shelter and food to thousands of people whose only crime has been to seek a better future for their family. He has been the reference not only to give support to those who arrive from other countries empty-handed in search of achieving the American dream, but also as someone who knows in depth the reason why this exodus occurs. He has also been a critic of the policies that violate human rights in the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala against people fleeing poverty and violence. On December 29, Father Verzeletti will leave the country, where he left his heart, and will return to his homeland, Brazil. With this column I want to thank you for your humanity, for your commitment to the dispossessed and for the kindness that you have lavished without expecting any reward.
In October 2018, the first caravan of about two thousand Hondurans who sought to walk to the United States arrived in Guatemala. The xenophobic and racist speech of Donald Trump was heard, threatening to cut off assistance to what he called shithole countries if they did not stop that human tide. While the rulers of Guatemala and Mexico humbled themselves before the American satrap and saw the migrants as plagued, Father Verzeletti gave them shelter, food and words of encouragement. It was easier to bark at the migrants and repress them, as Jimmy Morales did on several occasions, who sent security forces to beat them and throw tear gas at them, than to serve them hot soup. That is the difference between those who become dehumanized when they hold power and those who, with the humility and simplicity of their pastoral care, live and suffer together with the migrants. That is how Father Verzeletti has been, who also attends to Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran or any other country migrants, because he knows their afflictions.
Most people do not migrate because they feel like it, but because they cannot find shelter or bread for their family. It has been the selfish policies of regimes such as the Guatemalan that, instead of providing health, education, housing and communication channels, have dedicated themselves to corruption. Father Verzeletti knows that story very well and that is why he did not mince words to affirm that President Jimmy Morales dedicated himself to conspiring with Congress to articulate the “fundamental axis of the corrupt pact without thinking of the people.” When Alejandro Giammattei won the presidency, the Scalabrinian priest said that he did not expect much from him as ruler because “he knew his trajectory without clear policies for the country”, in addition to “representing the extreme right and being at the service of national and transnational capital. , which is not interested in improving the living conditions of the population ”. Time has given it a reason.
Now President Giammattei and the top private sector boast that the national economy will grow 7.5 percent, but that achievement does not translate into better living conditions for ordinary Guatemalans. That wealth remains in few hands, in a country where malnutrition overwhelms half of the children under 5 years of age. The voracity of the authorities and large businessmen is also causing the unstoppable exodus to the US Much of this economic growth is due to remittances sent by migrants from the North. They do celebrate that money, but they despise those who try to achieve that American dream. Only humble people like Father Verzeletti open their hearts to the suffering of poor people and lavish love and food on them. So I want to thank you infinitely for your kindness and tell you that we are going to miss you.