In 2021 there was no country analysis that was complete without taking migration into account. From this, as a poor indicator of local well-being, to how it is a high reflection of prosperity abroad, which later translates into remittances. Analysts in Guatemala repeatedly resorted to incorporating the phenomenon that is already flooding us like a gigantic tsunami, but for which we need hard and concrete data. And it is that finally, who knows exactly the numbers of something that is eminently clandestine? But there are certain activities that leave us traces; some events that show us that this acute wave of the exodus continues to grow rapidly, as it has done – almost continuously – for almost a decade now. Here are 3 immigration conversations that marked the year that just ended.
Year of massive fatalities. 2021 ended as it began: with catastrophes for nationals who travel irregularly. In January, the 16 youths massacred in Tamaulipas. And, in December, the spectacular accident in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, which showed the immensity of how many travel every day. Just think: 3 dozen Guatemalans died; more than a hundred injured. And, in addition, those who fled the place. We suspect that more than 200 Guatemalans were in the van, along with other migrants. To that, add the other van that was going alongside. And also, the third van that failed to leave the starting point. How many will there have been in all? About 600? Mass incidents stand out, but they are not the only ones. In October, 4 were killed in an accident in Texas, where 11 others were injured. These fatalities repeatedly affect Guatemalans, which raises questions about why ours are the most vulnerable.
Year of colossal remittances. The Banguat will be announcing soon that the old year exceeded US $ 15 billion of remittances through the bank. This figure is brutally surprising, even by the standards of this category. It will mean that 2021 was 50% higher than 2019. And that it was more than double that of 2016. A lot will be said about these numbers. About the indicators of the economy in the North; on how the pandemic bonuses affected those labor markets; and on how the battered family economies in Guatemala demanded more help from the emigrated relative. But I believe that the population factor should stand out in this discussion, inviting us again to ask ourselves: how many Guatemalans have emigrated in recent years? And how much is that population already abroad? Some say that we are already around 4 million people.
Year of miserable consular service. Another issue in 2021 is the -even more meager- attention of the State to its citizens living abroad. The service was already classified as -perhaps- the worst on the continent. But, above all, with the excuse of the pandemic, our consulates have been practically closed for two years now, and with absolutely scarce services. The discomforts are great for users. Your vulnerability increases. And, in addition, the country loses the few demographic data that is captured abroad, by having two years of consular absence. Will this improve in 2022? I doubt it. This item suffered a decrease in its annual budget, which was transferred to the always suspicious Conamigua. How are you!
Conditions on both sides of the border cause 2022 to be painted to continue with rising migration rates. The arrests and deportations from Mexico will take center stage. The Government will have even fewer resources to meet consular needs, and the buzz of a pre-election year will be added. The demands of migrant “leaders” in this regard are once again worrying. But that will be for another future article.