We welcome you all to the new year, a year of continuing the struggle and resistance of the people in Guatemala, Palestine, and the whole world. The voices that clamor for the people’s liberation do not cease. We join in solidarity to amplify those voices from where we find ourselves reading this update. We continue to accompany survivors and family members of victims of the Internal Armed Conflict, who despite the setbacks of the justice system continue to push forward in the search for truth. We invite you to read the most recent updates from AJR (Association for Justice and Reconciliation) about the Ixil Genocide Case of Lucas García. We continue to accompany our partners from ADH (Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango in Defense of the Territory), and their untiring fight for territorial defense. At the end of the year, ADH won their fourth municipal agreement in protection of water in the municipality of Aguacatán, Huehuetenango. We continue to accompany the struggles of the people at the global level and raise our voices for a ceasefire in Palestine. We send lots of light to all. 

Dementia and amnesia will not erase the perpetrators’ crimes- Updates of the Ixil Genocide Case

On January 4, the oral and public debate for the Ixil Lucas García genocide case was scheduled to begin. A day before, a hearing was held to conclude on the mental health of Manuel Callejas y Callejas. The court resolved the cessation of criminal prosecution in an ordinary trial against Callejas who was released and ordered the Public Ministry to file a new petition for the trial of Callejas y Callejas to be carried out without the physical presence of the accused.

The case against Lucas Garcia will continue with his presence. This means that two separate trials will be held, although the court did not set dates for the debate against Lucas Garcia.The AJR and ODHAG remain steadfast in the pursuit of justice in this new scenario, as they pointed out in their pronouncement following the court’s resolution:

“Two separate trials await us, more than 30 years after the events, with more than 40 old men and women dead without seeing justice and facing a State that continues to deny our memory of the genocide. At the end of this road, the memory of our loved ones continues to give us strength and commitment, to whom we make a promise of love to make known the terror and pain of our history, and we can with our word, ignored for so long, inherit a little more justice for those who have always been denied life, dignity and existence”

Read the full statement here

A Win for Aguacatán, Huehuetenango: Publication of the Municipal Water Protection Agreement

Around 10 community members under a yellow roof. In the foreground, a female-presenting person is reading a copy of the Official Journal of Central America. A male-presenting person is holding up a copy of the Official Journal of Central America

Photo Credit: Victor Sales. The Aguacatán community celebrating the publication of the Water Protection Agreement.

On December 23, 2023, the community of Aguacatán, Huehuetenango celebrated the publication of a Municipal Water Protection Agreement in the Official Journal of Central America (Diario Oficial de Centroamérica). The Water Protection Agreement symbolizes the recognition of Indigenous people’s right to land and water in the Municipal Code, and the power of local grassroots organizing.

The codification of certain provisions- which are ancestral truths that modern forces of capitalism and colonialism are attempting to erase- is a remarkable accomplishment and an example of the strategic prowess of the people of Huehuetenango.  For instance, this agreement, Act Number 0455-2,023, establishes that the Mayan people, inheriting a cosmovision that respects all forms of life, understands Mother Water as their origin, being sacred and a way of preserving life. It also recognizes that all water is public domain, and “without water, there is no life.” 

The Water Protection Agreement also codifies protections for the Aguacatán community. It establishes that resources cannot be privatized under any circumstances. It also provides for the protection of all water sources, surface, underground, atmospheric, and more. Although the actualization of this agreement is another matter, these provisions are important first steps towards the guarantee of water for all the people of Aguacatán.

According to Victor Sales, Director of the Assembly of People of Huehuetenango in Defense of Territory and for the Autonomy and Self-Determination of the Peoples (ADH), the people of Aguacatan were overjoyed when they received this news. Each community representative received a copy of the Official Journal of Central America. 

The community of Aguacatán celebrated on December 23 with a mass to give thanks to sacred water and the Municipal Agreement, after which each community released fireworks. Victor Salea stated, “We loved to see how many people received the message in protection of water from the lead parish priest. The priest dedicated the majority of his sermon to the water.” This was followed by a public celebration, attended by the city mayor, ADH, a group of lawyers, Indigenous leaders, businesses, and more. (Watch the mass and celebration.) 

As NISGUA, we celebrate this accomplishment with the community of Aguacatán. It is a testament to years of local grassroots organizing. t. The right to clean running water is a basic necessity of life. We stand in solidarity with the fight for land and water, which will continue until land and water belong first to the people, and not corporations.

Farewell to the ancestral authorities in the front of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

In the image painted in graffiti are five indigenous peoples, a grandmother, a woman and three men, two of them sideways and each one of them holding their staff of command and the phrase "You will flourish Guatemala", leaning against the wall are five backpacks with several staffs of command.

Photo by NISGUA, Mural created by Gero located in a house in front of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and inaugurated on January 14, 2024, as a reminder of the Plantón that was maintained in that place.

105 days after the National Strike, the ancestral authorities, now known as the “Permanent Assembly of Indigenous Peoples’ Authorities in Defense of Democracy”, withdrew from the encampment at the Public Ministry. With sadness, because we will miss them, we witnessed the departure of the tents, kitchen, and the things that sustained thousands of Indigenous peoples from the Public Ministry, the epicenter of corruption and impunity.. And also with great joy we bid them farewell, because their struggle and resistance was a strong part of defending democracy in Guatemala.

In this statement the ancestral authorities said goodbye, thanking the Guatemalan society that supported them: “You gave us back the hope that here it is also possible to organize and fight for the common good,” referring to the capital city as a place that has been historically conservative and racist and that, in these days, showed that yes, it is also possible for the citizens of the capital to learn from the struggle of the indigenous peoples who for hundreds of years have been subdued and repressed and yet have resisted.

We have never seen so many wooden staffs representing so many distinct regions of the country together, a united dignity with the same goal, to defend democracy and urge for the corrupt authorities who attempted a coup d’etat to resign. The Indigenous Authorities thank us, but to the contrary, we thank them. We will miss seeing them in the capital, and we learned so much from them. We will continue fighting with them in solidarity and accompanying them in their territories. 

Solidarity with the People of Palestine

A group of people gathered in a square. In the background is a mosaic with churches and flags of El Salvador and Palestine that are linked and a white bird. The group of people hold a banner that says: "From the river to the sea, long live Free Palestine".

Photo by: Radio Farabundo Martí El Salvador. January 06, 2024. Palestine Square in El Salvador, a group of cyclists joined in solidarity with the people of Palestine to demand a stop to the bombings and attacks in the Gaza Strip. 

The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) reaffirms our commitment and solidarity with people organized in the struggle to defend life and territories and in resistance to occupation and apartheid, which through colonial tactics justify the violence against and dehumanization of Palestinian and Indigenous Peoples.

For over 100 days, more than 20,000 Palestinian have been massacred; the famine, the declaration of a total state of siege, the war crimes, and the continuation of apartheid, occupation, and repression in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory are genocidal acts driven by racism and Zionism. From our political history and solidarity with the people of Guatemala, we recognize the responsibility of the Global North in such acts.

We recognize the history and responsibility of the Global North in the creation of Israel as an imperial and colonial state driven by racism and Zionism. As people in the United States organized in solidarity for the liberation of all Peoples, we honor the Palestinian, Indigenous and Black resistance to Western imperialism. For decades, U.S., Canadian and Israeli corporations in particular have stolen and seized land around the world, enabled by mass genocides, a high level of militarized surveillance and violations of basic human rights.

We join with all voices, including those censored and silenced, to demand a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to 75 years of atrocities by Israel against the Palestinian people. As a U.S. organization, we are committed to internationalism and relationship-building between the people of the United States and Guatemala. We will continue to advocate for grassroots alternatives to challenge oppressive power structures and violent U.S. economic and foreign policies. And we unequivocally declare ourselves against military, capital and colonial systems that reinforce each other to harm marginalized communities around the world.