An Uncertain Future in Guatemala’s Rocky High Country

I’m in Guatemala, scouting for an upcoming public television special about global poverty and hunger. This is the most indigenous country in Central America — and much of it reminds me of a sprawling Indian reservation in the USA. As is so often the case in the developing world, big corporations buy up the best farmland (here in Guatemala, that’s for palm oil, coffee, or sugar), and the poor are driven to the rocky high country. (One farmer said he was told, “If you won’t sell, we’ll negotiate with your widow.”)

And with climate change, a bad situation has become worse. The once-gentle Guatemalan rain is now violent, and planting no longer fits the season. Farmers tell me that the “lean time” or “hungry season” historically started in April — but now, it starts in February. Many, in desperation, have abandoned their farms and fled north.

In the USA, views are divided when it comes to issues like climate change and the “caravan” of hungry refugees heading for our southern border. Exploring this quiet farmstead, it occurred to me that the Americans who deny climate change are, generally, the same people who fear the caravan. And the irony is that, as climate change gets worse, this caravan will prove to be just the first trickle of a flood of climate refugees that will soon fill headlines across the developed world.

At the end of this clip, you’ll meet a few of these farmers face-to-face.

You can find out more about my trip to Guatemala at