Local Activities I

Analysis of the situation: Guatemala

In the frame of Local Activ­i­ties I, each project organ­i­sa­tion had to analyse the sit­u­a­tion of young migrants and urban art in its coun­try. Here you have a sum­ma­ry of the text writ­ten by Ini­cia­ti­va de Desar­rol­lo Educa­ti­vo Artís­ti­co y Social ONG (IDEAS) con­cern­ing the sit­u­a­tion of Guatemala.


In Guatemala, accord­ing to the sta­tis­ti­cal records, migra­tion began in the 1960s and until 1994 the main rea­sons to emi­grate were the armed con­flict and the need to find bet­ter job con­di­tions. From 1995 to 2010 emi­grants raised from 400,000 to 1,600,000, with most of them emi­grat­ed towards the Unit­ed States. Cur­rent­ly, there are sev­er­al caus­es and sit­u­a­tions that force peo­ple to emi­grate. Guatemala is geo­graph­i­cal­ly locat­ed in areas prone to nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, which left high lev­el of destruc­tions. Anoth­er fac­tor is the vio­lence, as there are gangs that lead young peo­ple vul­ner­a­ble to crime due to the eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion in which they live in their com­mu­ni­ties; if young peo­ple do not accept to par­tic­i­pate in these gangs they are vile­ly mur­dered, for this rea­son they pre­fer to leave the coun­try. Anoth­er type of vio­lence that increas­es migra­tion is that many young women flee their homes or love rela­tion­ships because their lives become vio­lent because they are women. The lack of edu­ca­tion, job oppor­tu­ni­ties and health are also oth­er rea­sons that force peo­ple from Guatemala, espe­cial­ly young peo­ple, to emi­grate. Young peo­ple from 13 to 29 years old rep­re­sent the 33% of the total pop­u­la­tion in Guatemala and, unlike the 1980s and 1990s there the emi­grants were most­ly adults, today it is esti­mat­ed that the major­i­ty of peo­ple who emi­grate are less than 30 years old. Indeed, accord­ing to a sur­vey car­ried out by IOM in 2016, 13.5% migrat­ed before their 18th birth­day. Many of them decide to take the risk of trav­el­ling to the Unit­ed States in an undoc­u­ment­ed way.
Accord­ing to data pub­lished by the UN in 2019, in Guatemala there are 80,421 immi­grants, which rep­re­sent 0.46% of the population.


This cul­ture arrived in Guatemala at the end of the 80s and the media were in charge of spread­ing it to all cor­ners of the coun­try, doing so the first rap groups, break dancer crews, graf­fi­ti artists, etc., emerged. How­ev­er, due the expan­sive phe­nom­e­non of the gangs, the move­ment stopped because tak­ing the streets to car­ry out activ­i­ties such as graf­fi­ti or break­ing was con­sid­ered as a threat to the gangs that at that time took pos­ses­sion of the neigh­bour­hoods. At the end of the 90s, inter­est in urban cul­ture reap­peared, gangs changed their for­mat and stopped using walls as meth­ods to mark ter­ri­to­ry and graf­fi­ti and activ­i­ties that pro­mot­ed the phi­los­o­phy of hip hop gave way. Small groups in var­i­ous urban-mar­gin­al set­tle­ments and in the his­toric cen­tre of Guatemala City began to prac­tice some of the dis­ci­plines of hip hop and iden­ti­fy them­selves with the cul­ture. This is prob­a­bly linked to the influ­ence that young peo­ple who have immi­grat­ed to the Unit­ed States bring when they return. How­ev­er, it should be not­ed that young peo­ple felt more iden­ti­fied with Latin Amer­i­can hip hop than with the Amer­i­can one. This rea­son could explain the fact that Guatemalan rap con­tin­ues to be a phe­nom­e­non rel­a­tive­ly out­side the mar­ket, and although it is no longer mar­gin­al. The dis­persed groups exist­ing in the coun­try start­ed to artic­u­late and orga­nize them­selves after the organ­i­sa­tion of the first hip hop fes­ti­val, called “Uni­verse of Styles”, in 2006. Since then, an annu­al event has been held to bring togeth­er Cen­tral Amer­i­can young peo­ple from the hip hop cul­ture. There are also sev­er­al region­al and world break­danc­ing bat­tles, graf­fi­ti shows and rap par­ties orga­nized in Guatemala. If it worth of men­tion­ing the fact that young peo­ple from indige­nous cul­tures have rede­fined the cul­tur­al ele­ments of hip hop by adapt­ing them and adding ele­ments of their moth­er cul­ture. Nowa­days, hip hop is cur­rent­ly in a phase of expan­sion and it has great appeal in Guatemala.