There was a time when rural Guatemalans never left home. But back to back hurricanes, failed crops and extreme poverty are driving them to make the dangerous trek north to the U.S. border.
ALDEA XUCUP, PANZÓS, Guatemala — Here, in the small Mayan indigenous village of Xucup, men and boys pack tightly and stand in the back of pick-up trucks in the early morning, heading to the fields to check on their crops after a night of harsh rain.
It’s early June — and any strong storm has the potential to derail months of work tending to crops, mostly maize, which soon people will harvest to feed their families. And these days, everyone is on high alert after back-to-back hurricanes last year left their home province of Alta Verapaz among the most devastated in the region.
As the men head for the fields, women and young girls — many dressed in bright colored skirts and tops with hand-embroidered flowers and patterns — hold bowls of maize over their heads, gingerly walking between homes made of wooden sticks, straw, metal sheets and concrete blocks.