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US Should Encourage Economic Opportunity in Guatemala, Not …

The Escobal silver mine, located in San Rafael, approximately 40 kilometers southeast of Guatemala City, provides nearly 8,000 Guatemalans with much needed income.

By José Niño

Increasing violence and crime in Guatemala has caused a record number of residents to flee the country in search of better opportunity. Between 2010 and 2014, approximately 723,000 unauthorized Guatemalan immigrants entered the United States, putting a squeeze on American jobs, straining public resources, and feeding the growth of violent gangs like MS-13.

In the face of this escalating immigration crisis, the U.S. State Department has been naïve in its dealings with the country, supporting environmental activists at the expense of development that could break the cycle of poverty and create prosperity that keep Guatemalans at home. To unlock the country’s potential, the State Department needs to promote economic growth in Guatemala — not undermine it.

In a new paper, Professor J. Michael Waller uses the saga of the country’s largest silver mine, a $1 billion investment by American company Tahoe Resources to illustrate the detrimental role the State Department has played in Guatemala.

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