Sunday, October 9, 2016

Behind the beauty of Guatemala

Violence and Extortion in Guatemala

I've hesitated to focus too much on the amount of crime that happens here in Guatemala.  However, since it has recently come closer to home and touched ministry partners that I know personally, I wanted to share a little more so that we can be praying together!

A little background . . .
The country of Guatemala is about the size of the state of Tennessee.
It's has a population of around 16 million people, with about 1 million living in the capital of Guatemala City.
Indianapolis has a population of 853,000 and Chicago about 2.7 million.
Last year, there were 144 murders in Indianapolis, 468 murders in Chicago,
and in Guatemala over 4,000 (in 2014 there was an average of 96 murders per week)
Last year there were over 8,000 reports of extortion, however, not all of the cases of extortion are reported.

Here is a little excerpt from the OSAC website:
"Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in Central America. Violent crime is a serious concern due to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and weak law enforcement and judicial systems. 

Extortion calls are commonplace, and many times originate within prisons. In recent years, the number of extortions has risen dramatically. In most cases, changing the phone number and not responding to the threats will resolve the matter. However, cases involving gang members must be taken seriously, as they will not hesitate to back up their threats with violence. 

However, Guatemala’s homicide rate is one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.  Guatemala’s worrisome murder rate appears driven by four key factors: narco-trafficking activity, gang-related violence, a heavily-armed population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm) and a police/judicial system that remains either unable/unwilling/both to hold many criminals accountable. Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished." 

I've never felt in danger here, but I am aware of the danger and make sure that I'm cautious and take extra precautions.  And, I know that the Lord is in control and trust that completely!

What is hard, is to see the effects of the violence here.  Orphans, mothers weeping for their children who have been murdered, fear caused by death threats, and a general devaluing of human life.
The situation of orphans and orphanages here is a whole other story.  Due to the effects of poverty and violence and closure of the international adoptions due to corruption, UNICEF estimates that there are over 370,000 orphans in Guatemala.  There are horrifying statistics reporting the number of physical abuse and sexual abuse suffered by children in this country.

Pray with me for Guatemala!  Pray with me for Lord to work in the hearts of the people here, and for those committing these violent crimes to realize their need for a Savior!!!

No comments: