concerts and religious services to celebrate the arrival of a migrant in the US.

The social network Facebook is flooded with advertisements announcing the celebration of concerts and evangelical cults in gratitude for having arrived in the US and having a job there. The posters have the flag of that country or a photograph of an American city in the background.

These celebrations have become common in many villages in the Guatemalan highlands, especially in Quiché, San Marcos and Huehuetenango, where migrants pay to hold these meetings while thanking the Supreme Court for the “blessing” of having arrived in the United States. ., get a job or have some time to live there.

A simple search in the aforementioned social network is enough to detect endless activities of this type, whose cost ranges between Q10,000 to Q60,000, depending on the quality or prestige of the musical group and how many people attend. In most cases, groups of between 50 and 300 people are fed.

Most of the time, migrants pay for everything. They send from US$100, US$200 and up to US$300 each. Sometimes it is the church where the activity is carried out that is in charge of managing those resources.

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Although many of these concerts are held with genuine gratitude, the organizers ignore that these displays of faith end up becoming one more incentive for migration, already driven by poverty and lack of development opportunities in the province.

In the activities, the names of the migrants are highlighted, they thank God and assure them that if they entrust themselves to him it is possible to reach the north:

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Activities recognize migrants who have traveled to the US as a blessing to family and community.

In others, the ties between Guatemala and the United States are highlighted to the attendees.

Example of the announcements of concerts in which the arrival of migrants to the US is celebrated. (Photo Prensa Libre)

Analysts on migration issues put on the table the possibility that these concerts and religious cults could motivate more young people from the province to migrate to the United States. Although there is no study, not even a measurement of how much migration has increased since the rise of these activities, they recognize that faith plays a very important role in rural towns.

Pedro Pablo Solares, an expert lawyer in migration issues, explains that on the one hand, youth find themselves with a reality that does not offer them opportunities to improve or meet their goals.

On the other hand, young people know that there is work in the US because they have witnessed the success stories of many of their acquaintances who, shortly after settling in the north, send remittances and their families change their consumption patterns.

Seeing these contrasts could influence such a decision, says Judith Erazo, a graduate in Psychology and a researcher with the Community Studies and Psychosocial Action Team.

But why do those who migrate make this decision despite the many reports of deportations and tragedies on the migration route?

Religion is so accentuated in rural communities that success stories that are reflected when one or many acquaintances are able to reach out and send money, even to finance these concerts and religious services, weigh more than tragedies, says Solares.

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Although these expressions seem to have no other motivation than faith and religiosity, the prosecutor’s office against the Illicit Trafficking of Migrants does not rule out that in the investigations they carry out of multiple criminal structures there may be a link with possible promoters of these events.

Coincidentally from Quiché, San Marcos and Huehuetenango where, according to the prosecution, coyotaje gangs have proliferated, it is where more concerts are detected on Facebook and from where more migration is generated.

Judging by the deportations from the US and Mexico reported by the Guatemalan Migration Institute, 65% of the returnees from 2017 to June 2022 were from these departments.

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