The Miami Herald
July 29, 1999

 Guatemalan exile finally over

 Santo Domingo, Mexico, Jul 28 --(EFE)-- Mexico and Guatemala on Wednesday
 ended a dramatic chapter in the history of the wars that have plagued Central
 America recently: the story of 45,000 Guatemalan refugees who fled the violence
 in their homeland to carve out new lives in Mexico.

 Presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Alvaro Arzu of Guatemala watched as
 the last small group of Guatemalans left Mexico, bringing the total number of
 Guatemalan refugees who have returned to their homes to 42,488.

 The presidents also gave naturalization papers to 939 others of the 22,000 who
 opted to stay, in a ceremony in the state of Campeche to celebrate the occasion.

 The Guatemalan community in Mexico burgeoned after the exodus began in
 1982, with many Guatemalans starting or continuing their families in exile,
 increasing the total population significantly above the original 45,000 refugees.

 In fact, children are one of the main reasons why Guatemalans stay in Mexico,
 Mexican Foreign Secretary Rosario Green told EFE.

 Francisco Baltasar Torres, a former refugee who received his naturalization letter
 on Wednesday - the first step towards Mexican citizenship - told EFE that he is
 staying because he has nothing calling him back to Guatemala, a land he left 16
 years ago.

 ``I have no land on which to grow corn there, no home, no family. Nothing,'' he

 ``Here,'' he went on, ``thanks to the Mexican government, I have a roof over my
 head and a small piece of land. It's not much - but it's enough to live on,'' Torres

 The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sadako Ogata of Japan,
 praised the ``warm welcome'' Mexico gave to the Guatemalan war refugees -
 especially by giving them the option to choose between voluntary repatriation and
 legal residency.

 ``I hope refugees in other parts of the world will be given the same opportunity,''
 said Ogata, who is scheduled to conclude her official visit to Mexico on Friday.

 Foreign Secretary Green told EFE that 10,403 refugees have obtained legal
 status and 2,184 have received naturalization letters since Guatemala and Mexico
 signed a peace treaty in December 1996.

 According to Green, the former refugees may opt to have a double citizenship.