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GUATEMALA: Population Growth Impacts Migration

February 1, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Tim Murray for this article from IPS News. Below it, see the reaction by environmental writer Leon Kolankiewicz.

Marco Tulio Guerra went to work as usual that morning at the meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. But his life was turned upside down when immigration agents swept into his workplace and arrested him along with another 388 foreign workers. Their crime: using false Social Security numbers

More than eight months have passed since Guerra and 286 other Guatemalans who formed part of that group of undocumented migrants seized in the May 2008 raid on the Agriprocessors plant in the Midwestern U.S. state of Iowa were deported to their home country, and most of them have not yet found a job.

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Reaction to this article by Leon Kolankiewicz
This is precisely the problem I observed as a Peace Corps volunteer in neighboring Honduras in the late 1980s: a country with a population growth rate in excess of 3% per year (doubling time 20-25 years) with absolutely no commitment to doing anything about it. In fact, in about 1986, when the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) offered the country a $6 million grant (FREE MONEY!) to begin a program in population education, the Catholic Church and opposition political parties went ballistic, claiming it was “genocide” and a “knife stab against our national culture,” AND FORCED THE GOVERNMENT TO TURN DOWN THIS GRANT. Out of the other side of their mouths, they expected and continue to demand that the USA serve as a safety valve for growing numbers of unemployed that are a direct result of their own unwillingness to confront their demographic dilemma because of their own cultural and religious taboos.

It was this experience that turned me into more of an immigration hard-liner upon my return to the USA. And Honduras’ population is now nearly double what it was when I lived there, with conditions more deplorable than ever in many ways. (But don’t get me started on the recent “coup”, which I think has been misrepresented by the press and politicians around the world.)

BTW, I have a Honduran nephew — an illegal immigrant in Texas — who has now been detained by immigration authorities after getting into a traffic accident and altercation with African Americans in Dallas. He is up for deportation, but my sister-in-law, who also arrived illegally in the early nineties but is now covered by one of more of the “shamnesties,” has retained a lawyer to fight it.


P.S. Deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, who is cast as this noble figure standing up for democracy by pols ranging from Obama to Chavez/Castro and the press, is mentioned highly unfavorably in chapter one of my book Bright River, Dark Dreams for his family’s rapacious depredations (illegal logging and building access roads) of the protected U.N. Biosphere Reserve at the Rio Platano in Honduras.

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