Guatemala is the Headquarters of the Regional Forum on Migration and Peace: Models of Social and Labor Inclusion for Migrant, Returned and Refugee Persons

* The countries of the northern region continue to be territories of origin, transit, destination and return, which is why it is important to make visible the new migratory flows of the region that touch Guatemala in search of opportunities.
* The promotion of models of socio-labor insertion of migrants, returnees and refugees must start from the recognition of their human rights, such as the right to migrate, the right to return and the right to international protection of refugee claimants.
* Thousands of people migrate for various reasons, but mainly in search of job opportunities. Others, such as refugees and returnees, bring labor competencies that could be an added value to start a social and labor inclusion process.

Guatemala, March 13, 2019 – The Regional Forum on Migration and Peace: Models of Social and Labor Inclusion for Migrants, Returnees and Refugees was held, the objective of this space was to reflect on the context of the new migratory flows in the region, as well as analyzing models of social and labor inclusion for migrants, returnees and refugees in the Latin American region. The event was promoted by the Scalabrinian Missionaries and the Avina Foundation. 

We live in a global context that shows alarming data where the accumulation of wealth is concentrated in a few hands, an extremely worrisome situation: the capitalist elite of the global backwardness of the super rich, represent 1% of humanity, and 99% of the planet’s population has to survive with a few scarce resources. In Guatemala, 70% live off the informal economy, which is aggravated by other problems such as violence and natural disasters, triggers of irregular migration.

On the other hand, according to data from the Guatemalan Migration Institute, from January 1 to December 31, 2018, 92,524 Guatemalans were deported by land from Mexico and air from the United States.

“The injustice is growing alarmingly in the world, the gap of inequality is increasingly deep between the oligarchic power and the masses of the people excluded from social benefits. Today, we are reaching a true economic collapse due to the absence of public policies. Development must offer viable models of social integration that allow individuals and their families an option; we must also work in spaces that allow us to create an educated conscience to defend the human rights and dignity of the most invisible,”said Fr. Mauro Antonio Verzeletti, Executive Director of the Casa del Migrante de Guatemala and Regional Director of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN).

“Migration should not be seen as a threat, it should be seen as an opportunity; where the countries must elaborate comprehensive and humanitarian development plans, giving alternatives to the most vulnerable to avoid forced migration for economic reasons,” said Fr. Jairo Guidini, Executive Director of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN).

Cynthia Loría, responsible for the Avina Foundation in Guatemala, commented that “every year, thousands of people migrate for various reasons, but mainly in search of job opportunities and in the case of the migrant, returnee or refugee population, this is a key element for them to develop their autonomy and improve their quality of life in the country of destination or return. A large percentage of these people bring work skills that they have no way of demonstrating when they arrive in the country of destination. Betting on the recognition of these, can be a differential and an opportunity for their employment and as part of an integral approach for inclusion.”

The forum was attended by international experts on migration issues such as Fr. Jairo Guidini, Executive Director of Scalabrini International; Jorge Peraza, Chief of Mission of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, International Organization for Migration -OIM-; Ana María Méndez Chicas, Project Manager “REFRAME” in Guatemala; Pablo Villagrán, Communications Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees -ACNUR-; Cynthia Loría, Head of the Avina Foundation in Guatemala; Carlos Yee Quintero, Director of Scalabrini Training Center for Migrants, Tijuana, Mexico; Dalia Gabriela García Acoltzi, Director of XINEHNEMI A.C., Mexico City; Ignacia Labbé, Responsible for Labor Program of the Jesuit Migrant Service, Santiago, Chile; and Ana Paula Rodríguez Caffeu Belo, Coordinator of Labor Insertion, Misión Paz, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The experts presented the migration issue from different angles, such as: the current regional context in the face of massive population movements; the Global Pacts and Labor Insertion; the Challenges of Labor Mobility; the labor inclusion actions of the refugee population; the regional models of labor insertion; the labor inclusion policies in the region; the challenges of labor policies for migrants and refugees; the great pending for the social protection of migrants and refugees and the role of the private sector in labor inclusion.

“This Forum is part of the advocacy actions of the International Scalabrini Migration Network that was born since 12 years ago, to motivate dialogue between different sectors that address the causes that triggers migration, as well as to develop and propose solutions with a ethical approach, on this subject and for the integration of migrants in the communities of destination,” said Carol Girón, Solórzano General Director of Programs of the Association, Missionaries of San Carlos Scalabrinians in Guatemala.
The forum culminated with a call to all government sectors, businessmen, civil society and the population in general to break down the walls of stigmatization and to have the openness to promote the social and labor inclusion of migrants, refugees and returnees.

By Lucrecia Alfaro de Arredondo
Photo: Lucrecia Alfaro de Arredondo


About the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN). SIMN is supporting more than 250 Scalabrini centers, shelters, and programs that are providing lodging, food, training, and employment programs; psychological and religious services; protection to victims of human trafficking; and support in the integration process to migrants, refugees and seafarers on five continents. In 2017, Scalabrini centers supported 136,319 migrants and refugees and 227,785 seafarers around the world. SIMN also supports a network of schools providing education, supplies, and food to thousands of vulnerable children. SIMN is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Organization of American States (OAS), and from this perspective is providing research and support for regional and global policies to protect and promote the dignity and the rights of migrants and their families.

About the Missionaries of San Carlos – Scalabrinianos Guatemala. In 1993, under the responsibility of the Scalabrinians, the Archdiocesan Center of Attention to Migrants (CAM) was created in the capital city. Its objective is to offer pastoral and humanitarian attention to the internal and external migrant population. In 1999, at the request of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala and on their behalf through Mons. Álvaro Ramazzini Imeri National President of the Pastoral Ministry of Human Mobility, the Scalabrinian Missionaries took control of the Migrant Shelter of the capital city. Since the creation of Casas del Migrante in Guatemala and for the social awareness work carried out, an integrated pastoral care for migrants has been launched. The beneficiaries are the deportees, refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees, migrants and others.

About Fundación Avina
It’s a Latin American foundation created in 1994 focused on producing large-scale changes for sustainable development through the construction of collaborative processes between actors from different sectors. Avina operates in 20 countries through nine regional programs. One of these is the Regional Migration Program, which aims to ensure the dignity, formality and respect for human rights in migration processes. This program has been operating since 2011 with allies in Central America, Mexico and the United States and, as of 2016, it also operates in South America. For more details about Fundación Avina and its programs, visit: