News from the United States spread across the world over the past week, including in Guatemala. Our sisters and brothers in Guatemala are praying for us as we pray for them. This is the heart of our relationship—an acknowledgement of how much we need each other and our shared faith in Christ.
Coronavirus in Guatemala by the Numbers
6154 confirmed cases in Guatemala
5015 active cases
583 confirmed cases in Region 2 (Western Guatemala including Huehuetenango)
65 confirmed cases in Huehuetenango
Continued Increase in Cases in Guatemala
It’s been another difficult week in Guatemala. Active cases and confirmed cases increased by around 40%. Deaths nearly doubled. Huehuetenango was spared the sharp increase in confirmed cases this week. Confirmed cases still increased by 15% in Huehue.
Government Assistance in Guatemala
Facing the ongoing economic challenges from the impact of the coronavirus on work and other activities, the Guatemalan government launched several new programs in addition to the distribution of staples that began in April.
1) Family Bonus Fund: Families who do not work for the government and whose electricity consumption is below 200 kWh/month are eligible to receive Q. 1,000 (about $130) per family. The reach of these funds to rural areas is hampered by the requirement that the recipient use official government identification to access a bank account and withdraw the money from that account. A photo of a government worker assisting a woman as she receives her funds is included with this update.
2) Employment Protection Fund: Companies who have furloughed employees can receive Q. 75 (about $10) per worker per day to provide some support for their furloughed employees.
3) Various loan programs: Loans with preferential interest rates are offered to most types of businesses.
The government assistance to businesses supports formal economic actions. Estimates place informal economic activity at 60-70% of the Guatemalan economy. The relation between the assistance provided and the informal economy is unclear.
Tropical Storms Amanda and Cristobal
Eastern Guatemala was struck by Tropical Storm Amanda last weekend. The government opened 1,484 shelters, many in the departments of Santa Rosa and Jutiapa near El Salvador. Severe flooding occurred in Eastern Guatemala with pockets of flooding across the country. A photo of some of the flooding is included with this update. Later in the week, a second tropical storm, Cristobal, brought additional rain to Western Guatemala. Cristobal’s flooding was not as severe as the flooding in Eastern Guatemala with Amanda. Some areas of Huehuetenango saw about 36 inches of rain from Sunday to Thursday. Electrical service was knocked out across parts of Huehuetenango due to winds from the storms. Photos of rains in San Sebastian Coatan and some of the damage in Santa Eulalia are included here.