Important Editorial on Guatemala and Therefore on the Americas

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Many thanks to Jim Borneman, publisher of TextileWorld for alerting us to this article. We share not because we agree or disagree, but because the public has had access to it and you should as well. 

Guatemala needs to build an 'economic wall' to be safe and prosperous
BY DANIEL F. RUNDE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR, the hill.com — 12/28/19

On my recent visit to Guatemala as an international election observer, I witnessed the numerous challenges newly-elected President Alejandro Giammattei will face — and issue not just for his country but for the United States as well, if Washington hopes to reduce the flood of undocumented immigrants from Central America.

The challenges for Giammattei include a growing youth population, poverty and corruption. However, as with all times of transition, there is an opportunity for the new administration to find solutions to these problems. President Giammattei should take advantage of Guatemala’s untapped potential, including the agribusiness, mining and tourism industries.

One of Guatemala’s biggest challenges is its demography. There is an enormous youth bulge, with almost half of the population under the age of 19. The country’s economy has been growing at 2.8 percent in 2017 and 3.1 percent in 2018 and is forecast to grow by 3.4 percent in 2019, above its neighboring countries. The population is forecast to grow from 17.6 million people in 2019 to 26.9 million in 2050. Despite the economy's growth of the last couple of years, it needs to grow at a much faster rate to absorb the growing youth population. Young people will either find jobs, do something less productive with their time, or migrate. Job creation and greater economic growth should be a top priority for the new administration to absorb all of these young people into Guatemala’s economy.

President Giammattei, who assumes office in January, also faces challenges from widespread poverty. Almost 60 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line and 23 percent lives in extreme poverty. For a country with significant agricultural wealth, it also has a substantial child malnutrition affecting almost half of all children under the age of five. Making matters worse, Guatemala has some of the lowest taxes collected in the world. Read More