From: Nic Wirtz [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 03, 2015 06:02 PM
To: Gleeson, James
Subject: Dr Biden Pool Report - Guatemala 2
Dr Jill Biden’s tour of Guatemala concluded with a meeting with the Indigenous Youth Parliament in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas, Sacatepequez on Tuesday afternoon.
The assembled group of 14 young leaders represented the 52 Parliament members that cover Guatemala. They highlight problems and promote consensus solutions to the numerous issues that face Mayan indigenous youth in the country.
Four of the group spoke to Doctor Biden and Guatemala’s first lady, Rosa María Leal de Pérez. At times forcibly, they explained the reasons behind youth migration from Central America to the United States.
They included gang violence, lack of work opportunities, low salaries and a lack of access to basic services.
Dora Virginia Alonzo Qui, the former president of the Youth and Children Parliament explained, “Most of the people in this country are indigenous. We are fighting to improve the rights of the indigenous community through finance, education and health.
“We are constructing solutions to our problems because it’s our country. We are becoming leaders, taking decisions in our municipalities to demonstrate that the indigenous people can do a lot of things.”
Marleny Izabel Macario, a 21-year-old elementary teacher in Antigua said, “We are part of the change of our country. If we work together we can transfer our reality and create good opportunities. We did not have expectation of work before we started this but we work for our family and our community and are working to change our reality.”
She added, “There are a lot of troubles in our country, a lot of limitations on indigenous people but it doesn’t stop us from working to change things. Our biggest reward is the smile on the faces of people, on the faces of women.”
When asked for what strategies the government has used to change people’s lives in the United States, Doctor Biden said, “I’m a teacher in a community college. For instance, if there’s a hospital and it needs nurses, the community college trains the nurses.
“What our President, Barack Obama is trying to do is give free community college, so that everyone has have a college education.”
Lisbeth Paola Cholotio, a 16-year-old Maya Tzutujil from San Juan la Laguna, Sololá described what happens to some migrants, especially children. “The coyotes exploit the kids sexually and it creates more and more problems.
“We need to communicate child-to-child, not adult-to-child because if there is violence, you are told to denounce the violence but what can you do if the police ask for your father to be with you and it was your father that raped you?”
The main points the Parliament wanted to present to Doctor Biden were that indigenous Guatemalans want the opportunity of a career in their own country and that there has to be alternatives to migration.
At the end of their presentation, First Lady Leal de Pérez invited the group to the Presidential Palace to explore concrete proposals to stem migration and improve Guatemala. Together they would work to create strategies that would lessen poverty and thus migration. “I’m here to help transmit the message for you,” said Leal de Pérez.
Doctor Biden added, “I’m glad we’ve had this conversation because without this, nothing starts. You’ve got a great ally in the first lady, you’ve made an excellent connection. You are the leaders of this generation.
“You are leaders and thinkers. Education will truly make a difference to your lives and the lives of your children.”
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