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Guatemala, Guatemala April 27, 2010

Executive Director, Cathleen Caron, travelled to Guatemala primarily to meet with the human rights organizations that attended the New Defender training in November, 2009 to encourage them to formally join the Global Workers Defenders Network. As always, however, many other issues will be addressed and connections made.

On this first day, Cathleen met with the U.S. consulate. Transparency of the H-2 program is a priority project for Global Workers in 2010. As part of this effort, it is critical for us to gain an in-depth understanding of how the H-2 system works. For example, Global Workers wants to analyze both the gender and state of origin (not country but the state within the country) of the H-2 workers. However, Cathleen learned that the databases the consulates use do not have fields to search for state or gender. That means the Department of State would have to review each individual H-2 visa application in order to determine the gender and geographic breakdown of H-2 workers.

One of the other issues discussed was local recruiters. U.S. employers hire recruiters in Guatemala to find workers for the H-2 program. The U.S consulate confirmed that they collect this information from the U.S. employers (the practice is apparently consulate by consulate, not a Department of State (DOS)-wide policy), however, they refuse to make the information public. The failure to do so directly contributes to human trafficking—an issue the U.S. government has championed for the past decade. How can persons verify if a recruiter is legitimate if there is nowhere to check? DOS refuses to cooperate and thousands of people world-wide are victimized because of it. Global Workers plans to take this issue to Washington this year to pressure for change.

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