Guatemala City is home to a large number of LGBTI sex workers who wait for customers on streets where violent attacks are omnipresent. Many of them are refugees from other parts of Central America or small villages in Guatemala where their sexuality has not been not tolerated.
In February 2006, Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter to the Guatemalan president, Oscar Berger, asking the Guatemalan authorities to respond to the frequent attacks against transgendered people. The letter stated that Guatemalan police “have not done enough to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”.
Some NGOs have alleged that the National Police force has a policy of ‘social cleansing’, which permits violence against sections of the population – particularly women and gay men.
Organización de Apoyo a una Sexualidad Integral frente al SIDA (OASIS), is an NGO that works to prevent HIV/AIDS and to protect the rights of LGBTI people. For three weeks I traveled with OASIS on their nightly rounds of the city as they did their best to protect people during a deteriorating period of bloodshed.