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Stories from and

The Maya Nut, a Nature Giant

In the Guatemalan department of Petén, a group of local women market natural products prepared with Maya nut, well known as natural medicine. The president of the producer association, Benedicta Galicia Ramírez, notes they “pick up the seed and then dry it, toast and grind it to make fluor”, and that the Maya nut enhances children growth, with food values higher than maize, beans, cassava and plantain.

This species grows in many American countries, from Mexico to Peru, and is very appreciated for its medicinal and nutritious attributes:

Video: Here we introduce the project “Selva Viva”, by a group of women who produce food items from the Maya nut tree.

Here, the consumption of the Maya nut seed gets promoted.

Landslides After Heavy Rains Cause Death in Guatemala

Heavy rains on the early hours of Saturday, May 31, 2014 in the Guatemalan municipality of San Pedro Necta, in the department of Huehuetenango, 312 kilometers North from the country capital, resulted in landslides that destroyed homes and caused at least six fatalities and three disappeared individuals, as reported by Conred [es] (National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction):

Elementos de la quinta brigada de Conred, policías, gobernador departamental, bomberos y pobladores permanecen en el lugar para colaborar en la búsqueda de las personas que posiblemente quedaron soterradas.

Members of the Fifth Brigade of Conred, police officers, the department governor, firefighters and locals are still there to collaborate in the search for people who probaby remain buried.

According to an officer with Conred [es], 2014 rain season started in April and may end in November:

Hasta el momento, la época de lluvias en Guatemala, que se inició en abril y se estima concluya en noviembre, ha afectado a unas 2 mil personas y estas son las primeras víctimas mortales de la temporada.

Up to now, the rain season in Guatemala, that started in April and it's estimate to end in November, has affected about 2,000 people and these are the first fatalities of the [present] season.

Guatemala: Violent Eviction of the La Puya Peaceful Mining Resistance

The blog MiMundo.org, by James Rodriguez, writes about the eviction that took place in La Puya, San Pedro Ayampuc and San José del Golfo, in Guatemala:

After two years and two months of peacefully blocking the entrance to U.S.-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) El Tambor gold mine, local residents of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc were violently evicted by Guatemalan Police forces in order to introduce heavy machinery inside the industrial site. Led by the local women, members of the La Puya resistance prayed and sang until they were faced with tear gas. Numerous locals were injured and detained.

He also posts pictures of the events that took place during the eviction.

Guatemala: ¡PODER!, Tale of Two Girls

Stories are powerful. They define who we are and what we care about. When the stories that are told about us are positive, they can empower us. When they are desolate, they can make us feel insecure or question ourselves.

¡PODER! (Spanish word that means power) is a docudrama film, directed, written and edited by Lisa Russell, Emmy-winning filmmaker. This film tells the real life story of Elba Velasquez and Emelin Cabrera, two indigenous girls from Guatemala, who challenged the mayor of their small town of Concepción Chiquirichapa to create girl-friendly municipal public policies. These public policies ensure that the local government addresses girls’ unique needs in the areas of health, education, HIV prevention and culturally-relevant family violence prevention. According non-profit Let Girls Lead, only 10 percent of Mayan girls finish primary school and nearly half have babies before they turned 18.

On March 12, ¡PODER! had its world premiere at the United Nations 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

Guatemalan Q'eqchi Indigenous Face Ongoing Violations of Their Rights

The threatening, violation and denial of the undeniable rights the Q'eqchi [indigenous Maya community] have over the land they acquired by their own means so many years ago, together with the stunning violation of basic human rights by evidence of abuse of force, not possibly rested on legal means, are unacceptable crimes and require immediate counteraction by the international community.

On the website Intercontinental Cry, Juliana Maria Soares writes about the ongoing attacks on the Q’eqchi community Saquimo Setana of Coban in central Guatamala. These attacks, “including arson of houses, physical attacks on community members and the arrest of community leaders under false charges,” were reported by the Guatemala Solidarity Project. The organization has put together a petition on Avaaz to demand an end to these attacks.

The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone

From Mexico, Katia D'Artigues, author of the blog Campos Elíseos (Champs Elysées), writes about the children who see themselves forced to emigrate on their own [es], and calls this a “humanitarian tragedy”:

Son niños que son orillados a cruzar la frontera solos. No lo hacen por aventura, sino porque muchas veces no les queda de otra, por pobreza; porque buscan reunirse con un familiar quizá su padre o su madre que ya está en Estados Unidos. Su número crece día con día. Ya se cuentan en miles y al menos un centenar son detenidos todos los días de acuerdo a cifras no oficiales.

They are children who are pulled to cross the border by themselves. They don't do it for the sake of adventure, but because most of the times they don't have any more choices, out of poverty; because they are looking to reunite with a relative, maybe their father or mother who is already in the United States. Figures grow day by day. They are already counted by the thousands and at least a hundred are put into custody every day, according to unofficial numbers.

She then adds:

Cómo están estos niños? Independiente de su estatus y nacionalidad son niños y tienen derechos. [...] Lo cierto es que ya se estipuló que se les asignará un abogado gratis para ver su proceso que, como es obvio, es único en cada caso. Ahora, son solo 100 abogados que comenzarán a trabajar en diciembre de este año o enero de 2015.
No van a alcanzar.

How are those children? No matter their status and citizenship, they are children and have rights. [...] It's established already that they will be provided an attorney for free to assess their process, which obviously is one per child. For now, there are only 100 attorneys who will start working by December this year or January 2015.
They won't be enough.

Quintuplet Birth in Guatemala

Guatemalan media is reporting [es] a quintuplet birth in Guatemala City. The babies’ weight, three girls and two boys, is between one pound with 9 ounces and two pounds with 12 ounces, a weight to be expected as they were delivered on the 29th week of pregnancy. They were immediately admited in the high risk neontal ward. The mother, Maria Magdalena Jiménez, had had previous conceiving difficulties, so she went through a fertility treatment, with the result of this multiple pregnancy. The babies have stable health conditions, but are under medical observation.

On Twitter, the multiple delivery didn't go unnoticed:

28 year old Maria Magdalena Jiménez, mother of quintuplets. This is the second case in 5 years at a Social Security hospital.

Update: 28 year old Maria Magdalena Jiménez, delivered quintuplets, 3 girls and 2 boys at Pamplona IGSS Z.13.

Guatemala: Ex President Portillo Sentenced to Five Years in Jail

With a historic rule by a federal court in New York on May 22, 2014, former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail for money laundering and taking bribes from Taiwan.

VIDEO: Alfonso Portillo gets verdict of five year and ten months of prison.

With this verdict, Portillo becomes the first former Latin American ruler to be condemned and jailed in the United States.

PHOTOS: Remains of Exhumed Guatemalan War Victims Returned to Families

Isabela Ja (forefront) and her husband Celso Chiquin, smile after receiving the skeletal remains of their son Baldomero Chiquin Ja. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Isabela Ja (forefront) and her husband Celso Chiquin, smile after receiving the skeletal remains of their son Baldomero Chiquin Ja. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

In a new photo essay on MiMundo.org, photojournalist James Rodríguez follows residents of Pambach, Guatemala, as they receive the skeletal remains of six wartime victims who were “taken by the army after a military incursion to the village on June 3rd, 1982, during the de facto government of Efraín Ríos Montt, and were never seen again.”

The victims were exhumed from a mass grave in May 2012 and returned to their families on November 22, 2013.

Portraits of ‘Children Who Have Children’ in Guatemala

Heidy, from Guatemala, was 12 when she became a mother. Photograph by Linda Forsell, used with permission.

Heidy, from Guatemala, was 12 when she became a mother. Photograph by Linda Forsell, used with permission.

Swedish photographer and journalist Linda Forsell has just started a Tumblr blog where she will be sharing her project “about young girls that have been sexually abused and have babies as a result of it.” Forsell explains:

Through a strong photographic depiction following the lives of a few of the young girls that are also mothers, I will depict the situation in Guatemala as well as give sexual abuse of girls in general, a face. They idea is to spend much time with 3-5 girls, dispersed over 3 trips to the country. I will aim to depict their normal lives with problems and hope. I will also do audio-recorded interviews to use as an addition in a final slideshow published on the web and hopefully through external media. The material will also result in an exhibition that I hope to travel from Sweden to Guatemala and abroad.

You can also follower her on Twitter.

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