Causes Of Poverty In Guatemala

by Kim

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How is it that Guatemala, a nation of considerable wealth and remarkable resources became one of the most poverty-stricken in the Western Hemisphere? From a war-torn past to an agricultural system that has left many farmers struggling to survive, there are many causes of poverty in Guatemala. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest causes and share some ways you can help the people of Guatemala.

How Does Extreme Poverty Affect Guatemala?

There’s a massive difference between not being able to afford luxuries and poverty—a condition where survival is a daily challenge. Poverty is so rampant in Guatemala that infant mortality, illiteracy, and lack of birth control are major problems that face the entire country. Note that this poverty isn’t due to a lack of effort, but to a system that runs on its vast majority of farmers while not paying them enough to thrive. This cycle results in endless work for wages that barely enable their survival.

Causes Of Poverty In Guatemala

To understand Guatemala’s current challenges, it’s necessary to first look to its tumultuous history. Originally the home of the Mayan civilization, Guatemala has since endured centuries of Spanish rule. Once it gained independence in 1821, it proceeded to be ruled by a series of dictators before becoming engulfed in a 36-year civil war that it’s still recovering from. The fact that the war was between the citizens and the Guatemalan government created a rift that may take decades to restore.

Due To Poverty, Literacy Rates Low In Rural Areas

Many of the rural citizens of Guatemala complete their highest level of education at 6th grade. This is largely due to the expenses required to send children to schools which may not be near their homes. Furthermore, help and transportation is limited or unavailable in many areas, resulting in a cycle of poverty that continues to grow.

Many Citizens Struggle To Attain Food

Food shortage has been a major crisis in many parts of Guatemala for decades. When families have to use all of their resources to fulfill their simple daily needs, they can’t put more money into the economy to help it grow. This contributes to the country’s cycle of poverty, especially for agricultural workers.

Racism Contributes To Guatemala’s Poverty

While 70 percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line, the number is as high as 91 percent for its indigenous population. The tension between citizens of Spanish and Mayan ancestry often leads to conflict and contributes to many of the nation’s poverty-related issues.

How You Can Help

Another impact of poverty in Guatemala is the rate of orphaned children and children who are abandoned because their parents are unable to support them. The children of Guatemala didn’t choose to be born into harsh conditions, where even getting enough food can be a challenge. At Hogar Heroes, our mission is to help the orphaned children of Guatemala in any way that we can. We are currently doing this by offering financial support to two orphanages outside of Guatemala City as well as organizing volunteer trips to assist the administration and spend time with the children.

Become a Hogar Hero. Please consider making a donation to help the orphaned children of Guatemala. Any contribution you can offer can make a significant impact on the lives of many children in desperate need.

You can learn more about our volunteer trips here.


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Kim