After 106 days of resistance of Indigenous people in the national strike against corruption and in defense of democracy in Guatemala, our partners continue the fight for truth, memory, and justice. In this solidarity update we share with you: a series of interviews with Guatemalan Indigenous leaders during the political crisis in 2023, sharing their vision from the frontlines of multiple struggles and lived experience. Additionally, a current perspective following the inauguration of President Bernardo Arévalo and Vice President Karin Herrera.

Also, we share a note about how through many years of struggle, the community journalists Carlos Choc and Norma Sancir achieved justice in their court cases.

February also brings to the forefront of our minds the historical memory of those who were murdered and forcibly disappeared during the Internal Armed Conflict for thinking differently and wanting a Guatemala with social justice. We invite you to mark your calendars and unite in solidarity, from which we commemorate the “National Day for Dignity of Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict” on February 25, with the survivors and families in search of truth and justice. We accompany the people of Guatemala to honor the life and death of more than 200,000 people murdered and 455,000 people disappeared during the Internal Armed Conflict and to amplify their voices and the decades of struggle for justice and historical memory.

Seeds of Life: Guatemala Beyond Elections.

NISGUA has collaborated with the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) to publish an interview series with some of our partners. This series fills a major gap in the international coverage of the political crisis by interviewing Indigenous groups on the frontlines of multiple struggles and how they view this particular moment, and what lies ahead.

[ESP] Un grupo de personas delante de un edificio: "Tribunal Constitucional". El Pueblo sostiene una pancarta con letras negras "No al golpe de Estado. El pueblo Xinka presente". Una persona socializada como un hombre está de pie delante de la pancarta sosteniendo el bastón sagrado. [ENG] A group of People in front of a building: "Constitutional court". The People is holding a banner with black letters "No to the coup d'état. The Xinka people present". A Person socialized as a men stand in front of the banner holding the Sacred stick.

📸 Xinka community members lift a banner in front of the Constitutional Court: “No to the coup d’état. Xinka people present,” October 20, 2023, the anniversary of the October Revolution of 1944. (Glenda María Alvarez Salazar, Santa Rosa community journalist)

Xinka Parliament 

Indigenous Xinka ancestral authorities, leading the land defense struggle against the transnational corporation Pan American Silver, and a convener of the strike.  

“I think it is time for a change not only for Guatemala, but for more countries that also suffer from this parasite [of corruption], which kills more every day.”

Read the full Interview here: “The People Are Willing to Continue”
In front of the Public Prosecutor’s Office a beige building a group of Indigenous Authorities with their traditional dress in red color, beige hat and their sacred stick.

📸 Indigenous Ixil authorities participating in the national strike, wait for the committee of representatives of Indigenous authorities who managed to stop the eviction of the encampment outside the Public Prosecutor’s Office. October 2023. (Juan Rosales)

Association for Justice and Reconciliation

Organization of Maya Indigenous survivors of state-sponsored genocide during Guatemala’s Internal Armed Conflict, they lead key transitional justice cases and were actively involved in the strike. 

“We are trying to change the country. That is why the communities and regions are rising up—not for the [Semilla] party, but for democracy. We don’t allow ourselves [be pushed around].”

Read the full Interview here: “They Tried to Wipe Us Out. We Rise up to Seek Justice”

International Mayan League 

Indigenous Mayan organization, in the diaspora, at the forefront of political, cultural, social, and spiritual preservation among migrant Mayan communities. 

“We ask the international community to reflect on our struggles, which are sacred. They’re not about ambition. They’re in defense of life, dignity, and the defense of our territories, which have been occupied.” 

Forthcoming! Keep an eye on your email and social media! 

Xinka People’s Parliament shares some perspectives on the new government

The image is a photograph taken at night of the national palace of Guatemala, which is illuminated with artificial lights and you can see the shadows of people looking towards the building.

📸 Photograph by: NISGUA. National Palace of Guatemala, in the early morning of January 15, 2024, after the inauguration of the current president.

A little more than a month after the new government headed by Bernardo Arévalo took office, after intense days of uncertainty, the demonstrations of political and social support, especially from the country’s ancestral authorities, were very important to prevent a coup d’état from taking place, which in previous days was a strong possibility. The Parliament of the Xinka People, which is one of the ancestral authorities that led this movement, shared with us that “We as Xinka people have faith, we are expecting that with the new government we will be heard, and that some doors have been opened so that we can remain articulated and be heard and therefore have legal certainty in our communities” (Member of the Xinka People’s Parliament).

There are many expectations, from many sectors of the population towards the new government. In the case of the Indigenous groups who we accompany, one of the things that they hope to resolve is the legal certainty of their territories because it will set precedent for local authorities like mayors and municipal presidents to respect their ancestral properties. The incoming authorities “already have doors open to dialogue, reform some laws so that everything in place can be carried out without causing problems to the ancestral authorities in the territory” (Member of the Xinka People’s Parliament).

Without romanticizing the current government, dialogue is a possibility that had not occurred in a long time. As NISGUA we are attentive to the actions being taken by this administration, and the perspectives the people have of them.

“It was a struggle to get to this stage with our president, but we are very hopeful that it will be better for all the people” (Member of the Xinka People’s Parliament).

Community journalists celebrate victory in the justice system

 in a very colorful image on the left side is a black and white photo of Norma holding a video camera. In the center a color photo of Norma and Carlos, on the lower right a black and white photo of Carlos with his back turned, wearing his press vest, a hat and holding a camera. behind an image of riot police.

Image Credit: Prensa Comunitaria. 

NISGUA celebrates the freedom of journalist Carlos Ernesto Choc, and we celebrate the important accompaniment provided by our friends from the International Mayan League (IML). On January 31st, 2024, after 7 years of “criminal persecution, threats, intimidation, defamation and raids on his home,” Choc was proven innocent.  

Carlos Ernesto Choc is a Maya Q’eqchi’ journalist focused on human and environmental rights in Guatemala. He participated in the transnational investigative reporting projects Green Blood and Mining Secrets, with Forbidden Stories. Because of his journalism, Choc faced criminalization through false accusations at the hands of the CGN-Pronico mining company, owned by Solway Investment Group. In the words of International Mayan League: “the injustices he’s faced over the last 7 years have been due to him simply investigating, documenting, and telling the truth.” We celebrate his freedom! 

That same day, Judge Jorge Douglas Ochoa of the Criminal Sentencing Court of the Department of Chiquimula sentenced a commissioner and two agents of the National Civil Police (PNC) for the crime of abuse of authority in the detention of Kaqchikel journalist Norma Sancir, while covering a demonstration of Chortí communities. Nine years after the events occurred, Norma received justice for the acts committed against her. 

The Center for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH), Norma’s legal advisor and plaintiff in this process, expressed that “this ruling is of great importance and significance for our country for Freedom of Expression, which in recent years has been harshly attacked and criminalized, and for community journalism.” Read CALDH’s full statement here.

NISGUA stands in solidarity with journalist Norma Sancir and her unwavering commitment to the right of the peoples to communicate and exercise journalism that truly serves their communities.

We cannot overlook the unique challenges and double standards faced by Indigenous women journalists. They confront not only the same obstacles as their male counterparts, but also societal expectations, racial and gender biases that seek to undermine their work.

Read our full solidarity statement with Norma here.

We  recognize the significance of Norma’s and Carlos’ cases at this crucial time. We celebrate their wins  and we honor the vital role of community journalism in shedding light on the dispossession of territories, a reality that communication monopolies often hide from the public eye. 

Still in time to purchase your NISGUA 2024 calendar

A group of people socialized as women raising their hands in an enclosed room made of wood, wearing traditional dress.

📸 Photo credit by: CPR-Urbana. Instagram: @cpr.u. Facebook: @cpr.urbana. X: @puebloresiste. Sepur Zarco, Cahabón, Alta Verapaz. 2019. 

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