Death Squads (blog entry)
In a society where the poorest have little or no chance of escaping the chains of poverty, Guatemalan street kids face even greater hardships than most and as if that isn’t enough they even have to dodge Death Squads just for being homeless. Merely trying to survive, the Street Kids of Guatemala sell bananas, Scavenge through garbage dumps, sleep in doorways or beside an abandoned railway station and very often turn to sniffing industrial solvents to alleviate the pangs of hunger. Bad enough you may think, but as I mentioned these kids also have to contend with Death Squads. The organisers and sponsors of the Death Squads call it "Social Cleansing" to justify the kidnapping, torture and murder of these helpless children that they call vermin, Didn’t Hitler use similar terminology to justify his actions? In one case I heard about, a young boy of eleven was found in a sack, ……… he had been severely beaten then shot through the head before being dumped. These death squads are made up of privately funded Security forces who believe that their actions will send a message to other children to get off the streets; but where can they go? The Guatemalan government do not supply one single hostel for homeless children and openly concede that prosecutions against Police officers and Private Security guards for crimes against children, are extremely rare. Trying to get information about Guatemalan street kids resulted in me being asked to leave Libraries, being totally ignored and even being pointed at on the streets. Even when I tried to talk to the Charity whose phone number Nancy had emailed me, I was met with suspicion making it abundantly clear that they were uncomfortable about talking to me. Maybe I was getting a bit paranoid, but on one day, everywhere I went and every time I turned around or saw a reflection in a shop window, the same two armed security guards were there, looking in my direction. I knew that I couldn’t stay forever so I took this as an indication that my welcome had expired and it was time to leave Antigua City and head off in search Mayan ruins and some jungle adventures – it’s a lot safer.