"Entrance of the Convent of Conception in Antigua, Guatemala" by Infrogmation / CC BY-SA 3.0

‘May God bless you’: evangelical pastors’ hidden role in human smuggling’s boom

Jul 1, 2019

By Sarah Kinosian

Early in the morning, Antonio knelt before an altar with white candles and a small statue of the Virgin Mary and prayed for a miracle.

It was still dark when he piled into a blue van with his six-year-old son, Gaspar, and a group of other farmers and their family members hoping to reach the United States. They set out from their home town in the highlands of Guatemala and rode for hours before pulling down a narrow dirt road which ended in a clearing near the Mexican border.

The migrants bowed their head as their guide – an Evangelical pastor – cracked a Bible, and prayed for the group’s safe passage. At the border, he whispered a last “Que Dios te bendiga” (“May God bless you”) to each before passing them to the next handler.

Guatemala is one of the biggest sources of migrants to the US, and across the highlands of this poor Central American country, churches and clergymen also play a role in the booming business of people-smuggling.

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