Caffeinated Religion and Politics

Today was our first day interviewing with various Guatemalan actors involved in combatting chronic child malnutrition. We started our morning sipping coffee and eating biscottis at a bustling café while we met with two members of La Pastoral de la Primera Infancia, an organization affiliated with the Catholic Church that focuses on children’s nutrition.

La Pastoral is unique in their crusade, receiving free radio and TV spots from the Guatemalan media to promote La Ventana de los Mil Días. The organization takes this opportunity to reach as many people as possible to raise awareness about the initiative, but this method has its limits and does not reach those who don’t speak Spanish and who live in marginalized rural communities. To overcome this obstacle, La Pastoral has used interpersonal relationships and the people’s trust in the Catholic Church to reach and change their behaviors. They explained the Guatemalan government doesn’t have the funds or human capital to implement this strategy and relies on La Pastoral and the church to do so.

Before we had time to process this, we cabbed it through heavy traffic to the office of Congressman Hugo Morán, leader of Frente Parlimentario Contra el Hambre—a congressional committee leading the fight against hunger. This 27 year-old politician believes that malnutrition is the biggest issue facing Guatemala and that the current administration’s greatest achievement has been bringing the issue to the table. Now public, private, and political interests work together to combat malnutrition. Congressman Morán sees La Ventana de los Mil Días as a long-term solution to eradicating malnutrition.

At the end of our discussion, Congressman Morán left us with some advice for our next meeting with the Ministry of Food and Nutritional Security (SESAN): read Congress’ efforts on the right to nutrition in the Frente Parlamentario Contra el Hambre’s annual report, since the report’s findings might paint a different picture than what SESAN would say.

Stay tuned for what we discover.

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Photos from Explorers in Guatemala
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