Huehuetenango, Guatemala April 17, 2007

Global Workers traveled to the northwest state of Huehuetenango, the biggest migrant-sending state, to strengthen contacts with lawyers willing to collaborate with the program and identify some new ones. The goal is to have two advocates from three Guatemalan states selected for the initial training, which will likely occur in September. With the newly empowered advocate network trained and in place, Global Workers will be able to facilitate a heavy case load of labor cases for Guatemalan migrants.

A likely ally will be the Catholic Church’s Human Mobility Pastoral Service. The network, especially in Huehuetenango, is impressive. They have an educational, empowerment training program for pastoral lay agents. The program, which already includes information on migrant rights, commits the lay agents to conduct workshops in their parishes in order to pass on or multiply the new knowledge. With representatives in 30 of the 32 counties in Huehuetenango, the potential to reach out to migrants about their rights, is astonishing. The church also has a legal department to provide free legal services. Discussions are under way about the church’s formal collaboration with Global Workers in Huehuetenango.

While in Huehuetenango, Global Workers met with the Ministry of Labor’s local office to discuss the guest worker recruiter abuses. Although the local supervisor expressed keen interest in the issue, the lack of resources (the office does not even have a telephone) will likely limit their ability to investigate and halt the illegal recruitment practices.

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