Saturday, February 14, 2009

Call Centers Create Jobs in Guatemala

The call center business in Guatemala intends to create some 9,000 jobs in addition to the 11,000 jobs created in 2008. This, despite the crisis in the global economy.

"This year we plan to reach 20 thousand seats," said Guillermo Montano, president of Clúster de Call Center, and explained that to generate these jobs will require an investment of at least $20 million this year.

Montano said that the recession in the United States offers opportunities for this sector as companies look to places like Guatemala, where it is cheaper to operate.

The cost of setting up a call center seat in the U.S. is about $ 30 per hour and in Guatemala the cost is between $12 and $14.

An advantage in Guatemala is that we are in the same time zone and the geographic proximity, which allows for easy inspections.

This sector of the service economy also provides more than just call center functions, but also management, accounting, billing, and others," said Luis Godoy, head of the Guatemalan Association of Exporters.

About 30 to 40 U.S. companies, including Coca Cola and Electric Company of Texas, are already using call center services in Guatemala. Other companies include industrial concerns, hotels, and cruise operators.

Growth in the call center business has been limited by a lack of staff who speak English. To resolve this problem, two thousand scholarships will be awarded for training in English. "The advantage is that if they complete the course, employment will come automatically because the call center commits to it," said the chairman of the cluster.

Englewood Dentist Brings Smiles to Guatemala

Dr. Ryan Roberts has never been to El Rejon, Guatemala.

Until recently, he'd never even heard of this tiny village.

He's about to find out just exactly where it is when he and four other dentists, including college friend Dr. Simon Amir, travel there on Feb. 25. This trip will mark the second time he and Amir have gone to Guatemala to provide free dental care to people there. This time, the dentists will bring along materials about diet and oral hygiene that is aimed at helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

"A lot of the people that we saw on our last trip had no real idea when it came to proper oral hygiene," Roberts said. "We'd like to use some of our time there this time educating them."

Roberts, an Englewood native who now lives in Rotonda West with his wife and two children, spent his last trip in the relatively large town of Santiago. There, although he did not have all the modern equipment that his office in Englewood does, he at least had a dental chair. This trip will take him to El Rejon and another tiny village in the hinterlands.

"It's going to be something of an adventure," he said, smiling. "Instead of a dentist's chair, we'll be seating patients in a kitchen chair."

Roberts and the other dentists work in cooperation with an agricultural organization that, in turn, works with Sarasota dentist Dr. Javier Gonzalez.

"It was Dr. Gonzalez who got me interested in going to Guatemala," Roberts said. "I'm glad he did because I really enjoy the work and the opportunity to do something for others. It's my way of giving back."

Read the rest of the story in The Sun.

5 Found Guilty of Forcing Women into Prostitution in L.A.

A federal court jury on Wednesday convicted five people in connection with a plot to lure impoverished young women from Guatemala to the United States with the promise of legitimate jobs, only to then force them into prostitution to repay their supposed debts for being smuggled into the country.

All five defendants are illegal immigrants themselves, four of them women from Guatemala who also worked as prostitutes.

As the verdicts were read, the five defendants sat expressionless, as they did through much of the monthlong trial before U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. Each of the five faces a potential life sentence, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The case presented by prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of 10 young women who said they were forced to work as prostitutes and turn over their pay to the defendants.

Only one woman said she knew she was going to work in the sex trade before arriving in Los Angeles. The others said they were expecting to work as baby sitters, housekeepers, waitresses or in other jobs in which they hoped to earn up to $10 an hour, far more than they could in Guatemala.

Only after they arrived in the U.S., the young women testified, were they told the truth about what they would be doing.

Read the rest of the story in the LA Times