Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP)2023-10-02T18:26:13+00:00

Guatemala Accompaniment Project – GAP Internacionalista

Providing solidarity at the request of Guatemalan organizers who are under threat for their work

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What is accompaniment?

NISGUA is one of the many organizations worldwide using international accompaniment as a strategy in the global struggle for the protection of human rights. Organizations, communities and activists under threat request an international presence as a security measure to dissuade attacks and create a safer space for them to carry out their human rights and social justice work.

How does accompaniment work?

In Guatemala, state and corporate actors, as well as parallel and clandestine power structures dating from the internal armed conflict and favored by the climate of impunity in the country, continue to exert power through intimidation, criminalization and violence. When human rights violations such as these take place, the monitoring and reporting done by NISGUA accompaniers through the Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP) serves to alert the international community. Our networks take action and pressure the Guatemalan government, transnational corporations and other actors to encourage the protection of human rights.

Who do we accompany?

We provide accompaniment to organizations and individuals involved in key legal cases seeking justice and accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity – including massacres, torture and forced disappearances – committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. This includes one of our longest and most extensive accompaniment relationships, with the witnesses and communities of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR). A courageous group of survivors, the AJR filed charges in 2000 and 2001 against former military dictators Efraín Ríos Montt, Romeo Lucas García and their military high commands.

In the Guatemalan post-conflict context, international investment in large-scale mega-development projects like mining and hydroelectric dams increased. So, too, did the attacks against community leaders and organizations speaking out against these industries and in defense of life and territory. GAP provides ongoing accompaniment to individuals and organizations under threat and increasingly criminalized for their organizing in defense of their resources, communities, culture and human rights.

“The work is ours. It is our country and is for us to do. But you help open the space for us to do that work. Your presence is important.” - Genocide Case witness from the Ixcán
“The State and resource extraction companies attempt to criminalize us in order to weaken our organizing capacity. Accompaniment strengthens us as we organize in defense of our rights.” - Rubén Herrera, Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango (ADH)

GAP Internacionalista seeks to dissuade violence against our Guatemalan partners and connect them to movements in the U.S. for Indigenous sovereignty and immigration justice. All GAP Internacionalista work is done at the request of our partners and according to their strategic vision. GAP Internacionalista uses a diversity of tactics, including human rights observation and documentation, physical presence, grassroots education, campaigns, and advocacy with decision makers. Volunteer accompaniers serve for periods of six months to a year, and then return to organize their home communities in solidarity with our Guatemalan partners.

4 NISGUA accompaniers hold a sign that says "People have the word"

Isa, Chris, Nico y Michelle,  former Internacionalistas at NISGUA’s office in Guatemala.

“The work of NISGUA is highly important to the Xinka People. Through NISGUA we are able to visibilize our work and struggle. This is important because when the authorities see that we have international accompaniment, we feel strong, we feel good, because we know that the authorities are afraid of international inspection”.

Emy Gómez, Xinka Parliament

“Being an accompanier with NISGUA was an extremely important piece in my political formation and radicalization. Learning from and collaborating with our Guatemalan partners, forming mutual relationships, and incorporating lessons from their luchas has been such a beautiful honor. The work is deeply valued by our partners and must continue until it is no longer necessary”.

Nico Estrada, former Internacionalista

“I was already an organizer when I joined NISGUA. I had already spent years of my life working towards realizing visions of a world that is capable of embracing all in its wholeness. And even given that, my experience as an Aco with NISGUA transformed my perspective. It helped me to embody a sense of “nosotres”, a collective sense at the cellular level, that I had never achieved in the US. Sure, there are parts of being an Aco that are shocking, but I found that the transformation happened in the most mundane, everyday parts. To be an Aco is to have your expectations shattered, to really question the use of solidarity, to learn to build a purpose that links you to a collective understanding of life”.

Maisie, former ACO 2023

“Internationalism is recognizing how interconnected we all are, collaborating in cross-border struggles for justice, and working together to dismantle systems of oppression. It was a great honor for me to accompany struggles for land, territory and justice in Guatemala, struggles that are ultimately interwoven and closely connected with those in the United States. My time as an accompanier taught me invaluable lessons on humility, privilege, creativity, anti-racism, resilience, trauma, relationship-building, and accountability and left me with the desire to continue doing my part for the long haul”.

Carrie, former ACO 2004-2007

“For me, international accompaniment is essential to establish relationships and solidarity between global movements. Accompanying in Guatemala from the U.S. is a way to combat the imperialism that created and is creating environmental, economic and political crises in the global south, and the best way to meet amazing Guatemalans and support their resistance. I am excited to be an ACO in 2024 and invite you to be part of the program with me!”.

Greta, ACO in 2024

“Internationalism is a critical response to the ever-expanding global influence of the dominant classes; as their power transcends borders, so must our resistance. Yet, as internationalist people-power expands over borders, it does not homogenize and it does not accumulate. Rather, it employs the full spectrum of human expression as a means to democratize power structures. It hinges on the transformation of our diversities – and the ways that those diversities intersect with experiences of autonomy and oppression – into collective resistance through globalized solidarity. It signifies the recognition that the collective liberation of working people, spanning both colonized and colonizing nations, can only be achieved through the formation of a unified coalition”

Isa, ACO 2019

Sponsoring Communities

Our Sponsoring Community partnerships provide the resources, energy, and political action necessary to ensure ongoing international accompaniment in Guatemala. Their long-term commitment to human rights and solidarity is an essential component of the longevity and sustainability of GAP. Sponsoring Communities provide financial support to individual accompaniers and are key members of NISGUA’s organizer network.

When GAP accompanied the return of displaced peoples, many Sponsoring Communities developed deep relationships with sister Guatemalan communities, many of which continue to this day. Today, Sponsoring Communities provide critical funds to support individual accompaniers and program work.

Sponsoring Communities are also key organizers in NISGUA’s grassroots initiatives to amplify the voices of our Guatemala partners and connect struggles for justice between Guatemala and the U.S. Responding to accompanier alerts, they organize their members to take action in the face of violence against activists.

GAP is always looking to create new Sponsoring Communities; if you are interested in forming a Sponsoring Community, please contact

“The spirit of accompaniment - go where your presence is requested, stand in solidarity with others as they pursue their work, and help to amplify their voices - has transformed the way we approach social justice partnerships.” - Chris Sutton, member of UUCA-ALIANZAS

Current Sponsoring Communities

K/GAP has supported accompaniment for decades, first sponsoring accompaniment in the returned refugee community of Chaculá, Huehuetenango and for the last 16 years providing direct sponsorship and program support to NISGUA’s GAP program. K/GAP stays connected to Chaculá through annual delegations and support of community education and healthcare initiatives, publishes a regular newsletter and hold regular events in solidarity with Guatemala such as speaking tours and educational fundraisers.

Contact person Connie Vanderhyden can be reached at

MITF is a group of committed activists and volunteers engaged in solidarity work with movements throughout the Americas. They participate in regular delegations, particularly to Honduras, and organize public education events about Latin America. MITF has been providing support to G.A.P. for more than a decade and is currently collaborating with WYGAP.

For more information, contact Dale Sorenson at and learn more at

Since 2001, the NH-VT Guatemala Accompaniment Project had a previous relationship with the returned refugee community of Los Angeles and currently sponsors one accompanier. The small group of people from both states has come together to sponsor accompaniment work, and have also hosted educational speakers from Guatemala in New Hampshire and Vermont. NH-VT GAP provides support in collaboration with the Needham Congregational Church. NH-VT coordinates a local speaking tour for their accompanier.

Chris Hansen is the primary contact person and can be reached at

Since 1987 the Needham Congregational Church has partnered with Santa María Tzejá in the Ixcán region of Guatemala. Every year, the church sends two delegations to the village, and in 2000 and 2007 it hosted delegations from the community to the U.S. The church supports health and educational programs and other development projects. 135 families from the church are partnered with 135 families in the village for a letter exchange. The church currently provides accompanier support in collaboration with NH-VT GAP.

For more information, write to Brenda Metzler at or visit

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA) became a NISGUA Sponsoring Community in 2007. Their congregation is engaged in an array of local activities, including solidarity work with a local immigrant community and community organizing through VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement). Their commitment to social justice has deepened their work with NISGUA in recent year, resulting in a yearly ALIANZAS-specific delegation to Guatemala and ongoing organizational support to NISGUA. Through ALIANZAS, UUCA currently provides support for two accompaniers. ALIANZAS publishes information regularly in a newsletter and organizes local speaking tours with the accompaniers they sponsor.

For more information, contact the project coordinator Anne McKnight at and the NISGUA partnership Contact, Marcia Trick at

Between 1997 and 2005, SEPA sponsored accompaniers in the returned refugee communities of Santa Elena and Copal AA in the Ixcán region. SEPA remains closely affiliated with both communities. SEPA regularly visits Santa Elena, are engaged in creative fundraising (that includes running a bed & breakfast) to support small-scale development projects in the community as well as scholarships, and work to educate the public in the Oberlin area. They have developed a relationship with students at Oberlin College.

Barbara Fuchsman is the contact person for SEPA. She can be reached at

Ready to apply?

We believe international solidarity requires the participation of communities who are similarly impacted by the same global systems that violate human rights and threaten those working for true self-determination and justice in Guatemala, as well as their allies. Applications from people of color, Indigenous/Indigenous descent, poor/working class, women, LGBTQI people, and candidates with strong anti-racism/ally experience will be prioritized; all are encouraged to apply.

The application process to become an accompanier is the beginning of many steps of training that continue through a volunteer’s entire time with NISGUA. It’s also a process of mutual discernment of compatibility between NISGUA and the applicant. We strongly encourage applicants to ask lots of questions of NISGUA staff and reach out for advice from trusted comrades while they discern if being an accompanier with NISGUA is a good fit for them

 If you would like to apply, please fill out the application form (found to the right), upload a one page resume highlighting relevant experience, and ask at least one contact contacts to share their email or phone number with us in order to have a reference call (In the reference form found to the right you can see what kind of questions we will ask).

Requirements include:

  • Rigorous commitment to creating a culture of feedback, accountability, wellness and mutual support.
  • Demonstrated commitment to human rights and social, economic, ecological, racial and disability justice is required. The ability to document and analyze events and conditions in order to produce quality written reports and educational materials.
  • Cultural sensitivity; excellent judgment skills; ability to work flexibly in dynamic, changing situations; resourcefulness in self-care and relational dynamics.
  • A high level of verbal and written Spanish or the ability to develop it with six weeks of intensive study.
  • A familiarity with the history of Central America/U.S. relations, the current situation in Guatemala, and a basic understanding of human rights/accompaniment.
  • Previous experience in Latin America (especially rural areas) strongly preferred.
  • Awareness of security issues, willingness to work in a situation which might involve risk, interest in individual and team analysis.
  • Familiarity with or willingness to learn strategies for grassroots fundraising and education in the US.
  • A minimum six month commitment.
  • A U.S. passport and/or a strong connection to a U.S. community.

Benefits include:

  • Lodging provided at our main office in Guatemala City.
  • A $530 monthly stipends to cover health insurance and most in-country travel expense (individual fundraising also required).
  • Immersion in the Guatemalan social, cultural, political, and linguistic context.
  • Trainings on accompaniment and organizing.
  • Ongoing check-ins, trainings, and support from Guatemala City staff on well-being, political analysis, organizing, and professional development.
  • Access to a grassroots networks of nearly four decades of NISGUA organizers and activists.

If you have additional program questions, please email gap[at]

The Power of Presence

Reflections from more than 20 years providing international accompaniment to threatened human rights and environmental defenders in Guatemala.

Read more
4August, 2023

Accompanier perspectives: A reflection on two fires

This reflection is by Maisie (they/them) current Internacionalista. I’ve been in Guatemala for more than 8 months now. Since the last time I wrote y’all, my reflections have increased tenfold. Being here feels like [...]

24June, 2023

Accompanier perspectives: AIDS and historical memory.

Oli  (they/them), former NISGUA Internacionalista and forever compa, wrote this after their second stint as a volunteer in Guatemala with NISGUA. During my first week back home in Philadelphia after accompanying [...]

9January, 2023

First reflections: The makings of solidarity

Maisie (They/them/elle) current NISGUA Internacionalista, writes their reflections on accompaniment and solidarity. Enjoy the reading and the educational materials! Dear community, I have been in Guatemala for over two months now. I will admit [...]

19August, 2020

Accompanier Perspectives: On Holding Complexity

Para leer en español Nicole Estrada (she/her/hers), current NISGUA Internacionalista, wrote this letter during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings in the U.S.  Picture of a dreamy trail in Birmingham, [...]

29August, 2019

Accompanier Perspectives: climate change and Indigenous organizing

Accompanier Olivia Pandolfi (they/she or elle/ella) writes about climate change and indigenous resistance in Quiché, Guatemala. In the text you'll read about extractivism, linguistics, and a multiple-hour Google Earth tour of Guatemala's river systems. ————— [...]

18June, 2019

Accompanier Perspectives: Political prisoners return home

Dear Friends and Family, As I reflect on the past year since joining Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) and officially finishing my first period in Guatemala Accompaniment Program, I hold [...]

21November, 2017

Accompanier Perspectives: From Huehuetenango to Omaha, NE

The Maya Q’anjob’al Nation takes their defense of land and life in Huehuetenango transnational through community organizing in both Guatemala and the U.S. Caya Simonsen worked for 6 months as a NISGUA accompanier in Huehuetenango [...]

19September, 2017

Accompanier Perspectives: 2017 Political Crisis in Guatemala

Guatemala plunged into a political crisis this month as President Jimmy Morales attempted to circumvent a criminal investigation into his campaign finances by declaring the head of the UN-sponsored Commision (CICIG) persona non grata, [...]

3February, 2017

Accompanier Perspectives: Ixil

While international accompaniment is at its core a response to the requests of Guatemalan communities and a tool for the protection of human rights, it is also a radical practice of showing up in solidarity and [...]

27November, 2015

Step into the House of Memory

Earlier this year, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) inaugurated the permanent installation of the Casa de la Memoria, an art exhibit that empowers youth to reconstruct their historical memory through the [...]

15June, 2015

Accompanier Perspectives: Huehuetenango

Dear Family and Friends, Thanks to those of you who’ve responded to my recent call for action in solidarity with political prisoners in Huehuetenango and for financial support in NISGUA’s successful May Match campaign! [...]

11June, 2015

Accompanier Perspectives: Ixcán

Since the mid-1990s, members of the NISGUA network have provided a physical international presence to threatened human rights defenders and communities in the Ixcán. We invite you to read the following reflection piece from one [...]

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