January Solidarity Update 2020
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Dear friend,

Two weeks ago, Guatemala's new right-wing president Alejandro Giammattei took power. Just this weekend, Julio Gómez, Maya Chuj land defender from Huehuetenango, was arbitrarily detained. Social movement leaders see this as an example of what's to come in the next four years; criminalization, militarization, and more resource extraction.

Following our partners' lead, we are preparing ourselves to be able to respond to these threats with agility, creativity, and sustainability for the long haul. From our 2020 tour with Association Pop No'j to the creation of GAP Internationalista to coordinating urgent actions in solidarity with Julio, we're using all our tools to organize, build, and push towards a safer and more just world. Join us!

Guatemala is not a safe third country: U.S. foreign policy absurdity continues


This month, the world was shocked by the Washington Post’s coverage of the “safe third country” agreement, which revealed that asylum-seekers are being deported to Guatemala from the U.S. without knowing where they are going. The Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA), which was signed in July of 2019 between the U.S. and Guatemala, claims that non-Guatemalan migrants must apply for asylum in Guatemala before seeking asylum in the U.S. The agreement  has faced global criticism for endangering the lives and dignity of migrants, and violating Indigenous territory in Guatemala by sending migrants there without permission from the rightful ancestral stewards of the land. 

This agreement makes no sense. In 2019, more Guatemalan migrants were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border than from any other country. Guatemala has less than a dozen asylum officers. Over 15 human rights defenders were killed in Guatemala in 2019. Guatemala is not a safe place for migrants. El Salvador and Honduras are arguably even less safe countries, and yet the U.S. signed similar agreements with them as well. In response, social movements are condemning this agreement. Stay tuned for more information about how to take action against this imperial absurdity.

Giammattei’s new administration would increase repression and criminalization against Indigenous Peoples and social movements

On January 14, Alejandro Giammattei of the right-wing military party Vamos, was inaugurated as president of Guatemala. Giammattei’s cabinet is cause for concern as new members represent a return to power for military and private elite sector elites. This, in addition to his role as Prisons Director in 2006 in overseeing the extrajudicial killing of 7 prisoners, leaves Guatemalan society deeply concerned that hard-won gains in the battle against corruption and impunity may suffer a setback. There is substantial fear that attacks on historical memory, environmental defense, sexual and reproductive rights, community self-determination, and on human rights defenders themselves, would increase under his administration.

"For Indigenous peoples, Giammattei's incoming Administration does not provide hope for change of the structural discrimination, racism, and inequality ingrained in all levels of society in Guatemala. Additionally, new talks of economic growth and investment continue the status quo of pushing for development projects that do not benefit the largely Indigenous majority, but rather a small elite private sector backed by the military, cause environmental destruction and theft of Indigenous lands." -International Mayan League/USA

“Giamattei's support for entrepreneurs affects us a lot as Indigenous Peoples as they only are looking for profits and are targeting our territories that have natural wealth, such as minerals, water or oil, which has so far caused conflict and dispossession of the population of their territories.” -Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) vice-president, Rabinal region

Read GHRC’s analysis of the new administration

LA LUCHA SIGUE / THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES: Speakers Tour with Witness for Peace Southeast featuring Elodia Castillo & Roderico Díaz 

Check out this tour by our comrades at Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective on the Indigenous struggle to recover ancestral rights and territory in Guatemala in the face of forced migration.

Photo credit: Witness for Peace Southeast 

Tour dates and locations: 

Feb 14: Orlando, FL
Feb 17: Columbia, SC
Feb 20: Raleigh, NC: NC State University
Feb 21: Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Chapel Hill
Feb 25: Elon, NC: Elon University
Feb 27: Swannanoa, NC: Warren Wilson College
Mar 3: Asheville, NC: UNC Asheville
Mar 5: Washington, DC

Ex-PAC deported to Guatemala to face charges in the Maya Achi sexual violence case

During the third week of December, representatives of the Rabinal Legal Clinic attended a series of events in the U.S. One of them was the hearing of Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, who was sentenced to 6 months (already served) for entering the country without authorization and ordered to be held in custody and deported to authorities in Guatemala to face charges for crimes against humanity. Cuxum Alvarado admitted to law enforcement in the U.S, that he was a member of the Rabinal Civil Defense Patrol. This admission will provide new evidence and potentially initiate a new chapter in the Maya Achi sexual violence case. On January 31, Cuxum Alvarado will have a first declaration hearing in Guatemala City.

Jesus Tecu Osorio, Paulina Ixpata Alvarado, and Brenda María Xitumul Román, from Rabinal Legal Clinic along with investigators from Homeland Security War Crimes Investigations, and activist supporters from Rights Action, NISGUA, and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission. Photo credit: Rights Action 

Read the report from Rights Action: Rape as Political Repression in Guatemala

Build with NISGUA in 2020!

In 2020 we need all hands on deck! Do you have editorial skills or experience in interpretation/translation? Are you an activist organizing in the United States fighting for immigrant rights or indigenous sovereignty? Would you like to be a part of our planning team for GAP Internacionalista? Whatever it is, we want to know! Please fill out this quick survey and we will get in touch as soon as possible!
For nearly four decades, NISGUA has supported Guatemalans resisting U.S. imperialism, militarization, and extractivism, the same forces that often drive people from their homes. Please donate today to support our continued accompaniment, advocacy, and political education.
Donate Today!
Sarasuadi Ochoa
Guatemala Accompaniment Coordinator
With the entire NISGUA team: Bridget, Claire and Meredith
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