Profile: To Chico from Guatemala

The country of Guatemala remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to local unrest. Guatemala’s homicide rate is 27.6 per 100,00 people. In 2018, Wikipedia reports there had been an average of 101 murders per week. 97% of homicide cases remained unsolved and in most cases, underreported. Many people from Guatemala are trying to flee from their country right now by making river rafts out of tractor tires and wood boards. Many migrants from different countries have attempted to flee from their country and have ended up in Guatemala. The Guatemala-Mexico border is the main place where people attempt to flee their country. These people, from many different backgrounds, often end up stuck in Guatemala because they were unable to cross this border.

There has been a recent increase in drug trafficking, gang-related crimes and heavily armed citizens in Guatemala so the incentive for many citizens to leave is at an all time high. It is common to hear stories about gangs and gang violence in Guatemala including stories about many powerful criminal organizations.

Junior Marvin Jimenez, from Ixtlahuacán, Guatemala, is now a refugee in Chico. He explained that he was often scared when living in Guatemala. He said “Like gangsters….yeah… I think like a couple of times they beat up my uncle… he was just walking there and they happened to be there so…”

Jimenez shared that the access to education was very limited in Guatemala. He said the “hard thing about Guatemala is they don’t have anything after middle school. High schools you have to pay, my mom didn’t have enough money to pay.” He also explained that “it is rarer to find people making it through high school. There are colleges, but [those] cost money too.”

Jimenez lived in Mexico for two years and tried to cross to the US but was detained. He lived in Florida for a year and was admitted into a program that found him a host family to stay with in Chico. Jimenez formerly lived with his younger brother and sister, his mom, and his grandparents.

He explained what life was like for him in Guatemala “I went to school 7 to 12, studying math, what we mostly focused on.” He also said that he would often help his grandma garden back in Guatemala.

At PVHS Jimenez is an athlete on the soccer team. He works hard and hopes to graduate college and become a lawyer. He wishes to visit his family one day but stay in the US.

“I hope to go visit them… and stay here… I like it here.”