Early evening on Monday night, 11th April 2016, three young people were gunned down in a hail of bullets as they begged for money at the traffic lights in zone 4 of Guatemala City.
Street Kids Direct Director, Duncan Dyason and the team from Mi Arca, Guatemala, arrived shortly afterwards to find 17-year-old Miguel lying dead in the streets. His girlfriend, Maricela, was shot in the stomach and was taken by ambulance to the city hospital but died in the early hours of Tuesday 12th April. 18-year-old Brandon, who also lives on the streets, was close to Miguel and Maricela and when the gunman saw Brandon he fired two shots into his chest leaving Brandon fighting for his life in hospital.
The level of violence in Guatemala City has increased dramatically this year and this is having its affect on the streets. According to statistics, Guatemala City is one of the top 10 most violent cities in the world as it has become a haven to two powerful gangs who leave 17 people dead ever single day as they fight for control over large areas of the city.
Violence against young people who find themselves homeless or who have had to run away from abusive situations had decreased in recent years. Those children and young people who see the streets as their only option often find them a cold, empty and violent places. Often these young people and children quickly and succumb to the pressures of street life and fall into a life that sadly and all too often lasts no longer than 4 years.
Street Kids Direct, Mi Arca, Mojoca and Tiempo de Rescate are united in their outrage at these senseless killings. It is not against the law to live on the streets nor to beg for money in order to live but in Guatemala those who live like this often become the target of those who find their presence uncomfortable and sometimes those who carry out abuses against street-living youths are the Municipal or National Police.