Congress seeks to expand Conamigua’s budget and functions – 2024-02-23 02:22:23

Today Congress could approve initiative 5850, which seeks to expand the budget and functions of the National Council for Migrant Assistance of Guatemala (Conamigua), which, since it began operating in 2008, has received constant criticism for poor performance from organizations and parliamentarians.

This bill, which was presented in 2021 by a group of deputies and is scheduled to be discussed today in the third debate, seeks to reform 14 articles of the law by which Conamigua operates.

The Municipal Code, decree 12-2002, is also reformed to create the Municipal Migrant Offices, and aspects related to financing are modified, so that it is a decentralized entity, with “functional and budgetary autonomy to develop actions abroad.” since it is currently a dependency attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The reforms also contemplate that migrants have more participation in decision-making within Conamigua, and that six members of migrant organizations must be included in USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain and other countries where there is a significant migrant community.

Of the funds received by Conamigua, a percentage will be allocated to the execution of programs and projects in favor of migrants abroad, mainly in the United States, and another percentage will be allocated to care for deportees, in order to reintegrate them into economic activity. . For this purpose, a “special trust” and support for projects of cooperatives receiving remittances from Guatemalan migrants.


Although Conamigua has departmental headquarters, if the initiative is approved, the Municipal Migrant Office would be created in each of the country’s 340 municipalities, to “channel, coordinate or execute aid programs for compatriots abroad and in the national territory”, according to the initiative.

The Municipal Migrant Office will have headquarters and furniture in the facilities of each commune and part of its operation will be covered with its funds, although donations from organizations or migrants abroad will also be accepted.

In charge of said office there will be, at least, two people, a coordinator and a secretary, although the number of staff may increase in some locations, depending on the demand for care.

No posture

Sebastián Siero, mayor of Santa Catarina Pinula and president of the National Association of Municipalities (Anam), stated that he was not aware of the initiative, so he could not express an opinion on the provisions to be approved.

Organizations that defend the rights of migrants have stated for years that Conamigua should work in the US, where thousands of migrants need support in advice on different aspects, such as labor rights.

Conamigua has also been highly criticized for the difficulty in executing the assigned budget, which limits its ability to act.

The criticism is that the work is subject to what the council says, chaired by the chancellor and made up of representatives from Segeplán, Congress, the Bank of Guatemala and the ministries of Economy and Labor, since the budgets, and therefore Expenses must be approved by said collegiate body, which slows the execution of resources.


In 15 years of operation, only in 2009 and 2015 Conamigua achieved execution above 60 percent of the budget.

Critics point out that most of these resources go to salaries and wages. In 2023 alone, Conamigua spent Q490,000 on court rulings, usually in payments for labor benefit claims when staff have been furloughed.

It has also been questioned that sometimes nominations to these positions are given for political favors but for experience in public administration; Therefore, these resources could be better used in information campaigns to guide migrants about the dangers of traveling or regarding immigration policies.

Fernando Castro, independent consultant on migrant issues, believes that these reforms “They are not coming to resolve Conamigua’s interference, and it is an instance that should disappear.”

“For three consecutive years they have not reached 50 percent execution of their budget, and the expenses go to administrative issues, mainly for salaries. What Conamigua does not have is oversight over how the funds are used,” said the consultant.

Castro recommends using the funds allocated to Conamigua to create more mobile consulates.

For her part, former representative Petrona Mejía Chutá, who endorsed the reforms, considers that Conamigua is an important entity that should be rescued to provide help to migrants living abroad and when they are deported.

In 2016, with the implementation of the Migration Code, many of the activities that Conamigua should develop passed to other institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Migration Institute, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office or the Welfare Secretariat. Social of the Presidency.

The government of Alejandro Giammatei announced that there was the intention to close the entity in exchange for establishing a vice ministry of migrant care, but the initiative was never presented.

More budget

  • With the reform of the law, Conamigua could increase its budget up to 10 times, despite the fact that until now problems have been observed in execution.
  • Conamigua receives an allocation of no less than 0.05% of the total amount of foreign currency in remittances that the country receives, plus 25% of the net value that the State receives for the issuance of consular cards and passports.
  • This means that it operates with an approximate budget of Q60 million.
  • The new proposal proposes that you receive up to 0.5%; That is to say, up to Q600 million in budget could be assigned to it to operate.
  • The change also makes Conamigua the executing unit, which would mean that spending would improve.

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