ADDED ON: 04/28/2021

Harris: Anti-LGBTQ violence is ‘root cause’ of migration from Guatemala

04/27/2021 | The Washington Blade

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday acknowledged violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity is among the factors that prompt Guatemalans to leave their country. “There are also longstanding issues that are often called the ‘root causes’ of immigration,” said Harris during a virtual meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. “We are looking at the issue of poverty and the lack, therefore, of economic opportunities; the issue of extreme weather conditions and the lack of climate adaptation; as well as corruption and the lack of good governance; and violence against women, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, and Afro-descendants.” The meeting took place a week after Aldo Dávila, the first openly gay man elected to the Guatemalan Congress, survived a robbery attempt in Guatemala City. Many LGBTQ Guatemalans with whom the Washington Blade has spoken say violence forced them to flee their country. Estuardo Cifuentes in 2019 asked for asylum in the U.S. because of the anti-gay persecution he suffered in Guatemala. Cifuentes and his partner ran a digital marketing and advertising business in Guatemala City for six years, but they closed it after gang members attacked them. Cifuentes said Guatemalan police officers also targeted him after they saw him kiss his partner. “This forced us to leave Guatemala,” Cifuentes told the Washington Blade last fall. The Trump administration forced Cifuentes to pursue his case in Mexico under its Migrant Protection Protocols program.


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