Over the months I’ve traveled throughout Guatemala, I’ve met many friends here, and occasionally, as we’ve discussed the U.S. in conversation, I’ve asked them a question:
Quieres ir allí, algún día?
Do you want to go there, someday?
Though no one I’ve met has voluntarily spoken a single bad word about the U.S., the answer, to this direct question, usually involves a shy shrug, perhaps a bowed head.
A friend I met recently here in Cobán replied with this:
“I don’t think I’m wanted there.”
Another friend, in Guatemala City responded, shaking his head:
“I can’t put myself through that.”
I could predict the answer, but each time, it breaks my heart over again.
It makes me think of the caravan of migrants currently making its way through Mexico and toward the U.S. border — the group of a few thousand young men, mothers and babies from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that has so captured the nation and become something of a political prop heading into tomorrow’s midterm elections.