Things That Matter

Guatemalans Are Fleeing Drug Violence Flourishing Because Of This Dangerous Flower

The global drug trade is a complex network of producers, distributors and consumers. Consumers are generally stable and located mostly in affluent countries like the United States and affluent Western European nations like Great Britain, France and Spain. Producers and distributors, however, often change according to geopolitical events such as the Cold War or the War on Terror, or local shifts in government.

For years, the main producers of opium poppy in the world were located in South America and the Middle East. But as armed conflict affected big producers such as Colombia and Afghanistan, criminal organizations, including the Mexican drug cartels, looked elsewhere for growing fields.

Guatemala, just South of Mexico and home to a warm climate ideal for the crop, became one of the regional epicenters for opium poppy production. 

Credit: Digital Military Magazine

Violence in localities such as the  Ixchiguan and Tajumulco municipalities in the department of San Marcos have experienced unparalleled levels of violence in recent years, mainly because of fights between rival Mexican cartels. “There are signs Mexican citizens are participating. Poppy is produced, harvested and cultivated here … it is [then] transported to Mexico where it is processed and then sent to the United States,” said Guatemala’s Interior Minister Francisco Rivas to VOA News in 2017. This has led to an increased presence of the Guatemalan military in the Mexican border. 

Guatemalan farmers were struggling, so they turned to poppy flowers to survive.

Credit: PlantID

The Mexican cartels pressured farmers to produce poppy flowers. Farmers who used to survive by harvesting potatoes, oats and other products didn’t ask many questions, and some were told that the plant was to make “medicine”. This has happened elsewhere in Latin America: in the Mexican state of Guerrero, for example, the lack of government support has led farmers to raise poppies. President Lopez Obrador has even called for an amnesty for farmers who have been pressured by the cartels. 

But then the government, under pressure from the United States, destroyed their poppy fields: extreme poverty ensued.

When the government destroyed the poppy crops during the last decade, Guatemalan farmers, most of them of indigenous heritage, had no other crop to replace poppy. They basically were left without their main means of income. Violence has ensued (gang activity is, in most cases, product of economic strife and social alienation). Citizens see no other way out other than crossing the Mexican border in the hope of getting to Los Estates. 

“Amapola”, of course, is the red flower used to produce heroin.

Heroin is made from the milky fluid that seeps from cuts in the poppy seed pod. This liquid turns into a dark, brownish gum that is then processed into heroin. 

With a bleak future ahead of them and no crops, Guatemalans are fleeing the country in record numbers.

Credit: USA Today

As USA Today reports, the situation for Guatemalans is beyond challenging and leaving the country is now a matter of survival: “People are fleeing widespread government corruption, poverty and violence. Six in 10 Guatemalans live in poverty, and more than 50% of the country’s poor are indigenous people, according to the World Bank. Twenty percent of Guatemala’s population lives in extreme poverty.

Indigenous communities are most affected by poverty, with 79% living in poverty, on less than $5.50 a day, and 40% living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 a day”. Just think about it: your Starbucks coffee costs about double the daily income of thousands of people. 

Over 250,000 Guatemalans have been apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol since 2016.

Credit: Unsplash

According to the United States Customs and Border Protection, unaccompanied minors, family members and single adults from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have tried to cross the Mexico-US border in record numbers since 2016. They are fleeing corruption, State abuse and gang violence product of the drug trade. The situation in Central America has been chaotic since the 1980s, when the two opposing sides in the Cold War, the US and the then Soviet Union, used the region as an ideological and sometimes military battleground. 

Guatemala has attempted to legalize marijuana and opium poppy, but efforts have fallen short.


Guatemalan authorities have attempted to legalize the drug. In 2015 then president Otto Perez broke ranks with the United States and presented a plan to legalize poppy production. In 2014 he told Reuters: “we’re exploring … is the legalization of the poppy plantations on the border with Mexico, so they’re controlled and sold for medicinal ends. These two things could be steps taken on a legal basis”.

These efforts, as we now know, went nowhere. However, the debate  over the legalization of certain substances is ongoing and could perhaps offer an alternative solution for curbing violence. But would legalization work? The eternal and perhaps unsolvable dilemma. 

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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secret Son Eric Baena Was Seen in Public With His Half-Brother Patrick For the First Time


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secret Son Eric Baena Was Seen in Public With His Half-Brother Patrick For the First Time

Photos via projoe2, patrickschwarzenegger

Over the weekend, some pictures surfaced of a sight we never thought we’d see. Two of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sons, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Joseph Baena, were photographed together for the first time.

Patrick Schwarzenegger and Joseph Baena were photographed hiking in Santa Monica together. This is the first time the brothers had been seen in public together since Baena’s public reveal in 2011.

As a refresher, Joseph Baena is the love child of the former California Governor and his longtime Guatemalan housekeeper, Mildred Patricia “Patty” Baena. Patty worked for the Schwarzenegger family for 20 years without revealing her secret to anyone but Arnold himself.

Joseph’s existence was kept a secret for 14 years before Arnold’s wife, Maria Shriver, discovered the affair. Once she found out, she immediately filed for divorce. According to Arnold, he has provided for Joseph from the beginning. He even bought a luxurious four-bedroom house for Joseph and Patty in 2010.

“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement at the time. “I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”

Since the public learned of Joseph Baena, he has kept an active public profile.

On social media, Joseph regularly posts thirst-traps of himself working out or practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu. The spitting image of his father, he is also a bodybuilder, and now, an aspiring actor.

Patrick Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is a fairly successful actor in his own right. You can find him in movies like “Moxie“, “Midnight Sun”, and “Dear Eleanor”.

The pictures of Patrick Schwarzenegger and Joseph Baena are shocking because, up until this point, the public had no idea that the half-brothers even had a relationship.

But if there is any bad-blood between Patrick Schwarzenegger and Joseph Baena, the pictures don’t show it. Instead, they show a portrait of two normal brothers going on an unremarkable hike together in Santa Monica.

We’re glad that these two young men didn’t let the choice of their parents affect the relationship they’ve decided to have with each other. Hopefully, we’ll see more of the duo in public again.

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Jenny Solares Is One IG Creator Everyone Needs To Follow


Jenny Solares Is One IG Creator Everyone Needs To Follow

A year in quarantine has led so many of us to doom scroll and get lost in social media. As a result, some people are getting more recognition and one person who should be getting your attention is Jenny Solares, or @es_jenny_solares on Instagram.

Jenny Solares is here with the relatable content we all want.

The Guatemalan content creator knows what the people want to see. How many times have you heard someone say that they like a woman who can eat? Well, as Jenny urges, prove it, y’all. Take your lady out and get her all of the food that she wants. Let’s go!

Now, that’s how you add salsa to someone’s food. If you didn’t already think this way when adding salsa to your tacos, you definitely will now. It’s just impossible not to.

We also love seeing her collaborating with Estefania Saavedra, a fellow Latina creator. A rising tide lifts all boats so we appreciate seeing these Latinas working together.

Solares is even creating brand new identities.

Cholas will forever have a place in our hearts. We know cholas. We love cholas. We are related to cholas. Solares’ creation of the glola is truly a work of art. Just because you’re a chola doesn’t mean you can’t love glitter and colors.

She’s even got some of the Covid humor in check.

There are going to be so many school assignments about this year in the coming years. Kids will be learning about the time the world stood still as we battled an out-of-control virus. It is going to be us having to tell the little ones about that time and it’s going to be rough. Get ready to reliving everything we have been dealing with for the last year.

On top of all of the comedy, Solares is ready to show her fans some real love for their support.

“Thank you all for letting me be me. Thank you for appreciating my silliness, my craziness, my songs, my dances, my imperfections,” Solares tells her fans in a year-end video. “Thank you for letting me be myself. This year was full of so much sadness, uncertainty, frustration, and, for a lot of people, loneliness. Thank you all for not letting me feel that loneliness.”

Thank you, Jenny. Your comedy has been a bright spot for so many during an incredibly hard and sad year.

READ: Instagram Fitness Gurus To Follow For Your 2021 Goals

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