Last June we accompanied our partners in their struggles for justice in the midst of a context full of uncertainty before the electoral period. Join us to read about the importance of an electoral vote with memory and dignity, about the recognition of justice from international awards beyond the local authorities. Also this month, want to invite you to be part of two of our annual activities: the Trans-Territorial table 2023 and the Annual Calendar 2024 Photo call. Read more in the following solidarity update.
Thank you for your solidarity!
For years NISGUA has relied on an incredible network of people to finance the work we do! This year was no exception! By relying mostly on individuals, we are able to maintain political autonomy. That means we don’t have to be accountable to governments or corporations in our choices of what projects, programs or actions to take. We have the freedom to be accountable to our grassroots partners on the ground in Guatemala!
While relying primarily on individual donors often makes for financial instability, it prioritizes our political principles. For that reason, we express once more our gratitude both to those who have donated financially, with time, and a myriad of other creative ways so that we could reach our goal of $53,596. This allows us yet another year (going on 43!) of solidarity with the people of Guatemala!
Art by Vico Carrillo @artecadejo (instagram)
On Sunday, June 25, general elections were held in Guatemala, in a political climate marked by a serious deterioration of democracy in the country: corruption, impunity, co-optation of the judicial system, persecution of the press, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, activists, human rights defenders and members of communities and social organizations in the country, which has driven a large number of Guatemalans into exile.
The elections have also been highly questioned due to the unprecedented judicial resolutions that have allowed Zury Ríos, daughter of Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt to participate in these elections despite being unconstitutional, while the candidacy of Thelma Cabrera -an Indigenous Maya Mam grassroots leader – and Jordan Rodás for the MLP, were not allow them to participate in the elections due to judicial decisions (among other candidates that were also forbidden to participate by Courts’ rulings).
In this context, we want to highlight the words of our comrades of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, an organization made of survivors of the genocide and who took Ríos Montt to trial ten years ago: “Zury Ríos Sosa’s participation as a presidential candidate offends the conscience, dignity and memory of the victims of the Internal Armed Conflict (…) and of those of us who seek justice for the massacres, torture, violence and sexual slavery, the Genocide and all the crimes against humanity committed between 1982 and 1983, by her father, the genocidal José Efraín Ríos Montt.”
We invite you to read their full statement and to stay tuned about the results of the first round of the elections in this critical context for all of those who seek memory, truth and justice.
On May 10, 2023, the Caravan of Memory and Justice was held to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the historic genocide sentence of May 10, 2013, on which former dictator Rios Montt became the first head of state in the world to be sentenced in national courts for genocide and crimes against humanity in 1982-83 in the Ixil region. During the caravan t-shirts worn by the participants, had messages such as “No more Rios de Sangre” (No more rivers of blood).
“Today, June 21, we commemorate the International Day against Enforced Disappearances, in which together with the Coordinadora Genocidio Nunca Más, we externalize our concerns in these elections in which the people of Guatemala must vote with memory, with dignity and not keep the same people who have excluded us in this search for truth and justice, hiding and protecting those responsible for these crimes that have affected us for generations.
We ask that the people who live in the United States, people who have gone there to take care of their integrity in the form of exile, ask them to show solidarity with all this work of searching for our relatives, that they vote with dignity there in the United States as well, that it be a vote with memory, that they not be fooled by the same parties that have us sunk in this corruption.”
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award to the Xinka People’s Parliament
On June 6, several Xinka Pueblo community leaders attended the U.S. Senate to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. The intention of granting this award is to honor defenders of social justice and human rights, so this year the struggle for life, culture and territory of the Xinka People’s Parliament was recognized in the midst of a community consultation process because they oppose the Escobal mine that was imposed without their consent, that is why they have a legal process and have stopped their operations of the mine since 2017. Mr. Aleisar Arana, one of the community members who received the award said:
“Being a human rights defender in Guatemala is a very difficult and dangerous task, many of us are subject to persecution, criminalization and sometimes even murder, despite the obstacles, discrimination, stigmatization and denial of our existence by the State; we find ourselves more alive than ever and we thank the energies of the grandfathers and grandmothers for meeting us in this journey with people and allied organizations, we feel very honored to receive this award which is a recognition of the effort and the struggle of our communities of the Xinka Parliament for the defense of the territory and the vindication of our rights, mainly our right to free, prior and informed consent”.
This award to the Xinka People strengthens them and contributes to the recognition of the legitimacy of their struggle as a Xinka community against extractivism and predatory capitalism of the Canadian company Pan American Silver.
Photo by: Xinka Parliament (https://parlamentoxinka.org.gt/), Members of Parliament receiving the Robert.F. Kennedy Award.
How are we facing the environmental problems in our territories? Said the Departmental Assembly of Peoples of Huehuetenango.
Last month, NISGUA had the pleasure and privilege of attending a base-building activity led by one of our partners, the Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango (ADH). It was these types of events – intimate gatherings of various Mayan peoples coming together to talk about education and organizing strategy – that were particularly painful to be unable to attend throughout the pandemic. For it is at these meetings where we really get the honor of witnessing the incredible organizers we accompany in action in their own language on their own land.
What are the main problems our villages are facing? What progress has been made in the fight for municipal water protection agreements? How do we, as land defenders, analyze the options in the upcoming presidential primary election? And, has there been any clandestine advancement on exploitation licenses on our lands? These were guiding questions for last month’s assembly.
Each attendee of the assembly serves as a representative of their municipality, in charge of disseminating the meeting’s messages amongst their community back home. This is how the ADH skillfully manages to have their movement updates heard by folks who speak different Mayan languages and are spread across thousands of miles of rural mountainous terrain.
Trans-Territorial Table 2023
The Trans-Territorial Table 2023 is almost here! From now to Friday, July 28th, 2023, NISGUA will be accepting proposals from Guatemalan and Guatemalan diaspora grassroots organizations, organizers, artists, academics, and community leaders for the 2023 Trans-Territorial Table.
Last year, NISGUA organized the Trans-Territorial Table for the first time and it was a success! From August to November 2022, nine organizations and organizers from Guatemala and the diaspora each received a stipend to finance a project that supports their people’s and territory’s struggles. As they carried out their projects, they all met virtually once a month to exchange knowledge about their struggles and strengthen relationships, collaborations and strategies. Read about the 2022 participants and their projects on the second page of this document.
“The solidarity initiative of linking organizations in the Trans-Territorial Table has been highly important to promote learning, cooperation, communication and organization in the strengthening of cross-border political and social strengths.”