Date: March 24, 2021

Client: NISGUA

Event: Human Rights in Migration Webinar





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>> Hello, everybody.  Thank you so much for tuning in and welcome to tonight’s webinar indigenous peoples’ human rights migration.  Tonight’s presentation is in English with interpretation in Spanish and Mayan Mam.  Please click on the language you would like to hear and know you could mute the other.  [Spanish interpretation]

>> Our comrade and mayan Mam interpreter will share this announcement in Mayan Mam through this audio.  [speaking Maya Mam]

>> All right.  Okay.  My name is Edna and I’m the cross border organizer.  I’m with long bear hair wearing earring and a long black shirt with a background behind me it’s plain white.  Along with the simultaneous translation, we’re grateful to have the closed captioning in English and Spanish available.  You can see the Spanish captions at the bottom of screen in Zoom or you can access them in the separate browser window, the link shared in the chat right now.  We’re here to help.  If you want to ask questions in the chat at any time or raise your hand at the bottom of screen as well, our team will message you directly.  You can also put questions for the panelists in the Q&A box at any time.  All of the links and information in the chat will also be sent out in the follow‑up email to everybody who registered for this webinar before hand.  We are really, really grateful to our amazing graphic note taker.  Her images will be saved after this webinar and posted to the NISGUA web site.  We want to extend an acknowledge that we’re on occupied indigenous land.  It’s important for us to honor with gratitude the people who have been on this land for generations.  Indigenous people are still here and they are thriving.  To learn about the territory you are in now, please check the link on the chat.  Tonight’s webinar was a collective and collaborative effort by many organizations.  You can see their logos on the screen and we’ll paste their names and websites in the chat if you want to know about them.  Many of these organizations are part of a larger campaign originally set up to stop the asylum compare active agreements or ACAS.  In February as a result of a year and a half of grassroot cross border organizing, the Biden administration terminated the illegal and inhumane agreements.  Our campaign is committed to ending this during the pandemic and the title for its to assumptions.  They are a Trump era policy that uses the pandemic as an excuse to expel asylum seekers to Mexico and countries of origins without the due process.  We invite you to take action against this human rights violations by signing the petition on the chat.  And now it’s my sincere honor to introduce our panelists for tonight.

>> We have Juanita Lopez.  She’s the Executive Director of international Mayan league.  She’s Mayan Mam from the western highlands the Guatemala.  A survivor of the internal armed conflict and former political refugee.  She has both personal and professional work experience in the defense of indigenous peoples human rights.  She uses international law and organizations, traditional knowledge and United Nations decoration on the rights of indigenous knowledge of indigenous people to develop an indigenous response in the area of immigration, land rights and environmental protection.  She works with mayan leaders and elders in Guatemala and the United States through their traditional institutions.  She holds a master of international public policy from Johns Hopkins school of tranced international studies.  We also have Luis Marcos.  Luis belongs to the Mayan nation and serves as an ambassador of the ‑‑ a preparatory body member of the Congress of nations on states.  Luis Marcos is also the co‑executive Director reinforcing our roots.  Leaving the heritage CMPI.  501c3 organization of the nation in Nebraska.  Luis Marcos works to dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery for the liberation of indigenous people in humanis.  We have Gio Batz.  Born and raised in Los Angeles and currently 2021 president post doctoral fellow in the department of native American studies at the University of California Davis.  Batz is currently finishing his first manuscript which he began in 2018/2019 resident fellow at the school for advanced research in Santa FFE, New Mexico.  The book is based on ten years of research conducted where the rival of megaprojects is referred to as the quote unquote new innovation.  Research focuses on the relationship between historical indigenous and mayan I international migration from Guatemala to the U.S.  He has a bilingual column.  He also will be joining the departmento of chicano studies at the University of California in 2022 as a professor.  Congratulations.  We’ll start with the questions we have prepared for the panelists today.  And we are going to start with Luis.  Luis, can you share a little bit about the root causes of forced migration and how it particularly impacts indigenous people?

>> Luis: ‑‑

>> You are on mute.  Thank you.

>> Luis:  [native language] before I say a few words, I wish to ask the blessing from our elders including our elders within the audience today.  And send all good energies from the sacred land of the nation.  My name is Luis Marcos.  My Mayan name is Q’anjob’al Maya.  I am wearing the ceremonial clothes.  It’s black.  I’m wearing under it a white t‑shirt with stripes.  This means we honor mother earth as we emerge.  We belong to mother earth.  And in my background ‑‑ in the background there’s a mayan cross.  And I want to express gratitude to the coalition of organizations behind this event today that makes it possible so that we come together and have these conversations about human mobility and especially indigenous peoples.  So the question is, please tell us about the root causes of forced migration and how it particularly impacts indigenous peoples.  I have five minutes for this and I have two main points that I would like to express.  The first one ‑‑ I would just ‑‑ I want to say that not only the root cause of forced migration but the unspeakable atrocities committed against indigenous peoples.  This includes genocides and displacements.  I want to bring your attention to what is called the international legal construct known as the Doctrine of Discovery.  There’s a specific document that I would like, if you can, you know, just find it on your own.  It’s called the preliminary study of the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery on indigenous peoples.  It’s a study mandated by the permanent forum on indigenous peoples at the United Nations the Doctrine of Discovery pretty much consists of three ‑‑ during which they call the age of discovery that humanizes ‑‑ dehumanizes indigenous peoples calling us savages and enemies of Christ, calling us ‑‑ calling for our perpetual enslavement, taking away of our lands, and to kill us, you know, if we don’t convert to Christianity.  And very, very dehumanizing language that started during that period and continues.  It did dehumanize indigenous people because we suffer from this Lange wage but it does dehumanize us all, all human beings.  Being killed, those doing the killing don’t feel it is very important to ‑‑ there’s a lot of information on this ‑‑ but we have to, it seems like make an effort to go out and really try to learn it.  Thank you.  We’ll have a few more minutes to reflect on.  Thank you.

>> Edna:  Thank you Luis.  I would like to ask the same question to Giovanni.  Can Giovanni also tell us about the root caused of forced migration and how this impacts particularly indigenous people.

>> Sure.  Good evening, everyone.  Thank you for having me today.  To start off just to kind of explain where I’m at, I’m currently wearing a ‑‑ I wear a beard and a mustache, have some white air pods, dark Brown complexion and gelled black hair and black shirt.  In the background I have some things from my ‑‑ and the Mayan calendar and I want to thank Luis in terms of thanking the organizers for this amazing panel.

It’s just an honor to be alongside Luis and Juanita, to incredible leaders, right, in terms ‑‑ for me.  I want to thank attendees for taking time out of your day to be here today.  We know that the world is not normal.  I don’t know what normal is anymore in terms of what is going on in different parts of Turtle Island and all across.  I appreciate y’all being here today speaking about an important issue.  I find myself in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  This used to be Mexico but it was before that it was indigenous territory.  I’m in the occupied territory of Apache and groups.

I wanted to recognize where I’m located.

It’s an hour north of U.S. Mexico border, this imaginary line.  What I wanted to do in order to kind of contextualize some of this is to use the concept of four envisions, the fourth invasion which I use in the research and which is the basis of my book.  In the region, at rival of interests of mining and forced electro plants is fused as forced invasion.  That is the fourth.

What are the previous three?  It’s analyzing these cyclical ways of invasion that you can identify the characteristics.  One of the ones was territory dispossession and displacement, right?  Land in Guatemala like elsewhere is a huge source of conflict and it’s through my research analyzing these that we can analyze how indigenous peoples are structurally displaces.

When we think about settler colonialism we have to remember it’s not an event.

It’s a structure.  In Guatemala it’s no different.  It’s the arrival of the Spanish, colonizers.  They were responsible for genocide, displacing indigenous peoples and centralizing them in what was known as Indios.  It’s a dehumanizing term in the same way illegal alien is.  That’s the way they justified genocide, right?  Not necessarily physical conquest.  Sorry, I use a lot of air quotes but the spiritual conquest which was the arrival of the catholic church.  There’s the saying that when the Spanish came they had the bibles and we had the land.  They told us to close our eyes to pray and when we opened them they had the land and we had the bibles.  It’s symbolic when thinking about colonization and the way we perceive land.  No one owns the land but somehow that’s the form they try to colonize, too.  The second invasion was the arrival of coffee plantations and exportation of products like bananas, sugar and necessity of indigenous forced labor in order to work the plantations.

That’s towards the early 20th century during the liberal dictatorships.  It’s during this time the national government, the Guatemalan state starting displacing people to get the fertile lands and forced them to work there.  This lead to the reform in 1952 under the Democratically elected president.  That led to the 1954 coupe organized by the U.S. government and kind the conservative forces in Guatemala.  The third invasion was the Guatemalan civil war which as we know lasted 36 years.  A lot of the root causes had to do with the land inequality.  Even though they passed reform we have to remember that indigenous people never stop struggling for land.  Even before and after he was overthrown people continue to fight for the land.  We have to remember it’s not just about it.  There’s a deeper history there and we have to be mindful and conscious of that.  The fourth invasion was the arrival of industries like mining and hydro electric plants.  They enter the countries under the banner of development and creating employment.  What we see in reality is that the corporations alongside with the central America governments utilize a politics of terror in order to persecute community leaders who are just fighting for the rights to exist with dignity.  Mining and hydro electric plants cause degradation and contaminate water sources.  I could elaborate more if you are interested.  I didn’t get a chance to talk about U.S. foreign policy.  If you have more interest in that and Q&A, more happy to speak ill of the gringo government.  Thank you.

>> Edna:  Thank you so much.  Juanita, would you like to add something?

>> Juanita:  Thank you and greetings from Piscataway territory.  I would like to acknowledge the date it’s the day of bird or the eagle and allows for deepening of communication as well as visioning and think that’s what we’re doing.  Behind me is the vision of what we’re seeing of a place without borders.

It’s a photo of my territory, the Mam territory.  And I’m Mayan Mam woman.  And ‑‑ Maya Mam woman.  I’m wearing traditional clothing of Maya people.  In records to forced migration and root causes, I think for indigenous peoples we cannot discount the fact that as has already been stated it’s connected with eras of displace.

As well as colonial backgrounds and imposed quarters.  We keep hearing about the crisis of migration and the photos that are occurring.  But there is also historical amnesia from the immigrant rights movement, from the human rights movement in this country and not understanding and acknowledging that relationship and I can talk about the foreign policies, the relationships that the United States government has had in its role in displacing our peoples in its role of genocide and military intervention that dates back decades.  So we look at the genocide in Guatemala and we see over 1 million people displaced during the period of the 1980s.  What we’re seeing now are cycles of the effects of what has been happening for decades.  So when we need to address the root drivers of forced migration or the crisis at the border as it stands today, it’s not just looking at one policy or one response, but rather going decades and in this case for indigenous people centuries.  Thank you.

>> Juanita, maybe following your expertise, would you like to share some of particular impacts on indigenous migrants on the process of migration specifically thinking like on the bureaucracy and all of the path that they have to follow?

>> Sure.  So as we know the number of people attempting to migrate to the United States has been really as I mentioned before the 1980s there was more than one million people forcibly displaced.

Then we look at the most recent waves in these new times.  It was 2014 with the rise of unaccompanied minors, then 2017, 2018, and then during 2020, there was a period because of COVID and because of the migrant protocols with asylum seekers being forced to wait in Mexico, the number of apprehensions and expulsions captured through customs and border protection agents went down.  Throughout this time period what we’ve seen is Guatemala is the highest number of apprehensions or expulsions for unaccompanied minors and adults.  Guatemala is over 63,000 apprehensions or expulsions under title 42.  Honduras is 60,000 and El Salvador is over 20,000.  We know it’s an in‑‑ indigenous country as we said before because.  They only saw us as labor and only wanted our land.  So indigenous peoples have been the most marginalized, the most excluded and through state‑sponsored genocide we were attacked as the shared stories of our brothers and sisters who lived through the greatest effects of genocide.  But everybody was affected.  What this meant is indigenous peoples primarily were forced to leave.  What that meant that the specific experience that indigenous people hold through the migration experience is characterized by not only the back drop of borders, migration and displacement but you are looking at discrimination and violence and death that are occurring through a lens of indigenous peoples’ rights.  When indigenous peoples get to the border and start fighting their cases, immigration lawyers often don’t understand there are particular rights for indigenous peoples.  For all migrants, indigenous and nonindigenous borders at this point are places of extreme violence, extreme situations including arbitrary arrests, detention, abuse, racial profiling, extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking, human trafficking, lack of access to adequate health services, food, water, shelter and in the most extreme circumstances, death.  Add to this the layer of the specific identity of indigenous peoples and the languages that we bring and we carry and our histories, when we come across the border, the assumption is that we are coming speaking the dominant language from the country that we just came from.  Again, there’s an erroneous assumption that in Mexico there’s only one language Spanish shall when in reality there’s a diversity of indigenous peoples and diversity of indigenous languages.  So if we are given any language services at all, it is a Spanish language interpreter when our people speak their indigenous language.  Couple that with the statistical erasure when we’re mischaracterized as Latino when we’re native American people, indigenous.  We’re denied due process through the exclusion of our indigenous identity and indigenous languages.

This has real life and death consequences for our peoples as has been attested with the deaths of our children, predominantly Maya children starting from 2018 to 2019.  We can not forget the names of our children.  A little Maya K’iche girl.  [reading names] you never heard their nations and the media.  You just heard that a central American child had died, a Guatemalan child had died but you never had the proper recognition that they were indigenous blood lost at the border.  And in most instances now, as we see these new photos, horrific photos of more family separation, of children in the concentration camps with these overflow and nicer terminology.  It’s the same thing that happened under Trump and Obama.  So right now we know that despite the fact that we know based on interpretation needs there are possibly hundreds of thousands of indigenous families, children, adults in detention or coming through and resettling throughout the United States as we now have data to back that up who are completely invisible in plain sight and whose needs and rights are absolutely denied because we are not even recognized as indigenous.

>> Edna:  Thank you so much, Juanita.  I know we briefly mentioned the title for expulsions but I would like to ask Giovanni to tell us more about the impacts of the title 42 expulsions on indigenous migrants.

>> Title 42 which was already kind of discussed earlier by Edna and Juanita is this CDC order that was implemented under the Trump administration on March 21.  Even though Biden promised to undo a lot of the kind of brutal policies is that Trump created, it’s something that the Biden administration has not stopped implementing at the border with the exception the affects on children.  Basically title 42 is based with the U.S. code.  It’s health law.  It’s not immigration law from my understanding.  It’s something that is rooted in the late 19th century that basically prevented any person from entering the US from countries that were sites of diseases.  This was meant to prevent boats from docking in U.S. ports.  Today it’s utilized to provide CPB and border patrol agents even more immunity to mistreat ‑‑ impunity to mistreat migrants here in the United States.  When we think about title 42 this forms a longer legacy of inhume main policies in the U.S.  It’s rooted in the logic of detention through deterrents.  Basically the U.S. makes things so bad people don’t want to migrate.  Whether it’s creating fear crossing the desert or using the threat of narcos.  Horrific things.  They are using title 42 in order to deny folks due process and accessing their rights.  To provide an example in comparison of title 42 which is health law, again, under a title 8 apprehension, people are designed under immigration law.  That lieus people to ask for asylum, for instance, Under title 42 border patrol agents have the ‑‑ kind of the ability to deny people from accessing asylum claims, for instance, People came over and they wanted to seek asylum, border patrol agents are more ‑‑ they are allowed to basically just expel people.  Under title 42 it’s considered expulsion.  It’s not considered deportation.  People are sent back to Mexico where they are confronted with very ‑‑ they find themselves in a dire situation.  In March of 2020, title 42 was about 23% of all removals.

When we look at October 2020, it constituted 88% of deportations.  They call it expulsion.  Children under title 8 when they are apprehended, they are usually sent to the office of refugee settle in the U.S. Department of health and human services.  Under title 42 children are not provided with that right.  Often times they were placed in hotels where they were supervised by a private company who dealt with security measures.  Children were subject to different types of abuse, whether it’s verbal, physical, sexual abuse, the kids were placed in hotel rooms with people not trained to basically take care of them.  It’s ridiculous that that is going on.  Whether we think about the legacies of U.S. and thinking about title 42, it’s one of the strategies that the U.S. government is trying to use to deter migrants from coming over.  I just also wanted to make a quick note because Felipe Alonso Gomez’s name came occupy.  Without shame.  Biden know what’s is going on here.  We saw the pictures in terms of looking at plexiglass to house children, detain them, treat them like criminals, non‑human.  One of the things they started doing was publishing pictures of indigenous women and children and telling them not to sacrifice them.  I’ll read a quote.  It says, and I quote from the U.S. embassy that tweeted this.  Do not sacrifice your children.  The coyotes do not care if your children get COVID‑19.  The lives of your children are the responsibility end quote.  On top of that caption was a picture of Felipe Alonso Gomez.  How dare they use that image to company that text knowing full well that the U.S. government, Mexico and Guatemala are responsible for his death.  For him having to flee, crossing with his father through Mexico.  Getting detained, catching an illness and dying.  That’s why I say the U.S. government has no soul when it comes to immigration policies and title 42 is a clear example of this.  I’ll end it with referencing you to a really good article on title 42 that came out in the Los Angeles times yesterday.  If you want more figures and graphs and the differences between title 8 and title 42 which I mentioned, I refer to you that one because I think it was a really good summary.  Thank you.

>> Edna:  Gracias, Giovanni.  Luis or Juanita, do you want to add comments?

>> I want to second all that Juanita and Giovanni has said.  It’s an honor to share this conversation with them.  Yes.  Thank you.

>> Juanita:  I may adjust one little comment.  Thank you, Giovanni for adding that additional context with Felipe.  I put something in the chat for all of the attendees in that in the particular area where he came from, there had been in the 1980s horrific massacre that completely disseminated and destabilized socially, politically, economically that region and it never fully recovered.

If we look at the case of Jacklin in the area she comes from it’s now encroached with palm oil plantations.  The blood of our children and this is why we continue to at least in the case with the Maya league to place it within forced migration.  Not just migration because families are forced to leave our ancestral homelands because there is no infrastructure in place for a dignified way of life ‑‑ dignified way of life.

There’s no opportunities.  There’s no future.  When the government says don’t sacrifice your children, they are washing their hands from the responsibility that they have to afford a basic system of dignity for our people and to recognize that we as human beings has human rights.  And many of our people would rather stay home, have the right to stay home and not be forced to leave.

>> Edna:  Thank you so much Juanita.  We have another question for Luis.  If you can answer, what are your communities and people in the diaspora doing to defend yourself before this colonial and racist oppression?

>> Luis:  Thank you Edna, for guiding the conversation.  And again it’s an honor to share these ‑‑ this panel with G io and Juanita.  And just to follow up on what they were saying earlier before I answered this question is how indigenous peoples understand human mobility.  We say ‑‑ we want to express gratitude to the indigenous peoples here in the north.  They call us relative or our relations.  In the case of the Omaha nation, they say this, welcome to our traditional homeland.  When you come to our traditional homeland, you bring us blessings.  So we welcome you the Omaha nation has welcomed the Maya here.  We have a diplomatic government relationship where I’m honored to be the ambassador.  The Cherokee nation, or members, I should say, citizens of the Cherokee nation, I should say, have expressed things like we’re relatives.  We’re related.  They feel they think their ancestors have taught them that their ancestry comes from precisely that region that is sacred to us, our Maya territory.  Human mobility, we see it as ‑‑ it’s a universal human right.  The universal decoration of human rights in its article 13, 14, and 15 say that we have the right to move within the borders of the country.  We have the right to leave that country and go back to it.  We have the right to change citizenship whenever we want as indigenous peoples, we have the right to return to own nations and citizenship of our own nations but also the right to ask for citizenship to any state.  The role of the state is only to issue the proper documents so we live a dignified light of.  To move around is a universal human right.  In terms of how we’re organizing ourselves to face all of this, we have three things.  One is as the Maya, we have an understanding that we come from a highly sophisticated civilization.  You know, our architecture, our medicines, our culture, two, the impact of the doctrine of discovery.  If we are to rebuild our civilization, we have to dismantle it.  We have to understand it.  Not get angry, not get mad but simply understand it’s nature and dismantle it.  And three, we are ‑‑ we understand from the United Nations decoration on the rights of indigenous peoples, articles, three, four and five talks about the right to self determination and self government.  Without self government, we will never enjoy the rights that a U.S. citizen enjoys, for example.  A U.S. citizen can show your passport and get on an airplane and welcome you on our traditional homeland.  How is it that we as indigenous peoples cannot do the same thing?  Are you more human than we are?  That’s my question.  With that we’re organizing ourselves here, articulating our presence as peoples and as nations with a right to self determination and articulating our right to self government in the United States.  Thank you.

>> Edna:  Muchas gracias.  Giovanni?

>> Giovanni:  I think we have to be critical in terms of remembering who we are as a people.  We have to remember that when the Spanish came one of the first things they did was burn our history.  That was strategic.  They wanted us to forget who we are.  The fact that I’m speaking English right now and I speak Spanish and I dream in English and Spanish.  It’s part of our ‑‑ I can’t pray to my ancestors in K’iche.  I’ve been discriminated here and in Guatemala for whatever reason.  I think one of the things we have to remember is who we are as a people.  Just be very, very careful in terms of the nationalism or the Guatemalans we’re trying to construct in diaspora.  Even when I think of the concepts, even being here in the border lands.

Some of us were born in exile.  Diaspora sounds like such a nice word.  Call it what it is, people were forced to flee, right, due to the structures and institutions that commit genocide against indigenous folks.  I wanted to show two images.  I’m not sure if Claire could show that quick.  Thinking about the indigenous racial whether we think about central America as a region.  We have to remember this concept of central America is this mestizo concept geared towards erasing indigenous peoples.  In made October 2019 it shows the cover, celebrating Guatemalan migrants.  We’re talking about the majority of migrants coming from Guatemala are indigenous and we see no indigenous people.  Even this picture was white washed.  If you could go to the next slide, Claire.  Here are images of Latinos playing Indian.  We have to remember playing Indian is not something that happens in Turtle Island.  It happens in Guatemala, too.  We see cultural appropriation.  We see how this Latino state tries to appropriate indigenous imagery to repress us basically, right.  This is a fashion magazine.  Well known where everyone on this cover is from Guatemala.  The only difference in the front is a fashion designer who appropriates indigenous text aisles to sell it at a higher price.

There’s a pseudo documentary financed by the Guatemalan government.  It’s on Netflix now.  I never watched it but I had no intention of doing it.  Here we see how the Guatemalan state uses people as props to bring tourism.  When we think about the bicentennial celebration of Guatemala, September 15 and 1821 is when independence was declared from Spain.  For who?  Not me.  There’s a reason why people were fleeing.  Independence for the oligarchs.  I used to have a Guatemalan flag.  I used to love talking about drink everything a gauyo or whatnot.  That flag is a symbol of our oppression.  It’s the reason why we are displaced.

It’s the reason why there’s genocide against us, right?  We have to remember that they are owned by two of the richest most powerful families in Guatemala who have done really bad things.  Be careful.  We talk about 500 years of resistance.  Our history is thousands of years old.  I encourage y’all to investigate indigenous scholars, artists, activists among other people and be critical of the type of memories we’re constructing here with an exile or diaspora.  Thank you.

>> Thank you so much.  Before I continue, we have a request from the public to ‑‑ or comrade ‑‑ who is making the translation.  Maya Mam, could you speak louder, please.  Juanita, would you like to add something to this dialogue?

>> Sure, thank you so much Luis and Gio for your perspectives.  I wanted to touch a little bit ‑‑ I guess if I remember correctly the question is what are we doing to organize ourselves from this space and have I actually seen questions in the chat on what can be done to support indigenous efforts.  That’s really where I want to center the conversation.

It’s supporting and uplifting indigenous led efforts.  There are many great examples, the tremendous work that they are doing with the nation to nation relationship that grounded in self determination and our ancestral rights and sovereignty regardless of where we are in our borders.  Gio discussing the critical need to ensure that the youth and ourselves are grounded in our history and our culture and our cosmo vision so that we understand who we are so we know where we’re going.  That’s always where our elders tell us.  You have to know your history to know where you stand to know what that vision is.  But I also wanted to add another dimension that we’ve been doing at the international Mayan league and that is broadening the nation to nation relationship as Luis had discussed around the policy sphere.  And we’ve been very fortunate that our indigenous relatives in Turtle Island have begun to recognize us, particularly recognition to Cherokee nation relatives who we have at the border with [native language] but also the national Congress of American Indian.  I want to up lift that many of the efforts we’ve had in the last couple of years to acknowledge that we are indigenous peoples.  We have particular needs and rights and migration has been through the relationship with the elders, with women leaders and with medicine women.  And the relationship really was born because as we were discussing one day of the horrific human rights violations that we see at the border, that we’ve been experiencing at the border, it was relatives from Cherokee nation who said we understand what you are talking about because we passed that, too, through the trail of tears.  There’s an historical continuity of that systems of oppression and there’s also a very important nexus of solidarity and of movement building grounded in indigenous human rights and regardless of the borders because it is our human rights as we transcend these borders and we have to overcome those violations.

>> Edna:  Thank you.  Okay.  Luis would you like to add something else?

>> Luis:  I just wanted to go back a little bit when I made reference to U.S. citizens, I meant to those that are really anti‑‑immigrants.  I know that we also have very wide support from, you know ‑‑ a lot of U.S. citizens from the European/american, you know, citizens here in this country.  We want to express gratitude there.  Definitely the most is the U.S. government and their policies.  Thank you.  Thank you Juanita, Giovanni, Edna, the entire coalition in particular for highlighting this ‑‑ the conversation here from the perspective of indigenous peoples.

>> Edna:.  Thank you all panelists for sharing your knowledge tonight.  Before we switch to the questions by the audience, I have a last question for Juanita.  Can you share where some of your demands for justice as indigenous peoples in the diaspora specifically?

>> Juanita:  Thank you.  So first I’d like to highlight that there is a sign on petition that was drafted by the members of the coalition and it’s been sent as some of the key asks.  So I’m going to highlight some of those because they mirror some of the work at the larger level in the diaspora.  So whether we really talk about indigenous peoples diaspora it’s the forced resettlement of indigenous peoples now living in Turtle Island which is part of Abialla and flourishing alongside because of the support and solidarity in many cases because of our relatives here in the north.  Much of that has then led to recommendations and analysis that brings forth and centers human rights of indigenous peoples and the demands that we have.  So, of course, as we talked about title 42 and expulsions, one of the things we’re seeking is immediately seize all of these expulsions, particularly of asylum seekers which disproportionately impacts indigenous children, indigenous people and black refugees.  This you can sign in the signature sign on.  One of the things I discussed and has come up across all of the speakers here is the lack of documenting us and our indug us in identities in official capacities within the whole immigration system.  So what we’re asking and the first point of contact is that CBP customs, border protection, ICE that they document indigenous identities and languages at first contact.  Whether this doesn’t happen as we talked about in the case of the children who have died ‑‑ Maya children who have died is that the first violation that happened at the first point of contact compounded its way through the immigration system.  There needs to be a comprehensive approach of documenting our indigenous identity and languages as we come to the border.  The other one is something included in the UN decoration on the rights of indid ‑‑ declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.  In this context we mean there’s full and effective participation with indigenous leaders, organizations, associations, institutions and all decision making spaces related to migration and how they impact us.  So that means maybe creating an indigenous language policy advisory which we’ve called for many times at the Maya league.  The disaggregated data we don’t have actual official data from the government side that shows how many indigenous peoples are crossing the border.  Thankfully for the folks line Alitas and indigenous language office we have the first research that documents our numbers and resettlement patterns.  We want to create with us ‑‑ not for us ‑‑ indigenous human rights framework that would add to reform and recognize our sovereignty as indigenous people.  Rollback Trump era policies that limit the refugee definition and restrict eligibility.  I forgot to say this in my presentation there was a study that detailed forced sterilization.  In that report they document that many of the women were not fully informed of the medical procedure nor gave their consent.  Much of it was related to inadequate language.  The only language they mentioned was Spanish.  Because there’s no language assessment or indigenous we don’t know how many of those were were forcibly sterilized were indigenous women.  We’re calling for a full investigation into the involuntarily sterilization of migrant women and particularly what could be indigenous women.  Lastly, it’s not in this petition but something we’re gravely concerned about the separation of children from their families is leading to an influx of incompanied minors who actually have ‑‑ unaccompanied minors who actually have families and parents on the interior but illegally placed in the system for illegal adoptions or foster care.  This has to stop.  We’ve already started hearing some cases at the Maya league of some very questionable foster placement for Maya children.  Because of the language exclusion that our people face, there are more and more human rights violations that are occurring that are not being visiblized because there’s so many confusion about who we are.  And there’s been a lot of questions here and ‑‑ in the as to how to support.  You can support the organizations would have organized this event.  Gio has placed a good fund me for the ‑‑ gofundme for the indigenous brothers seeking asylum.  There’s ways to learn from the Maya scholars and I’ll leave that to Gio who can explain that part further.

>> Edna.  Thank you so much Juanita.  Gio do you want to add a little bit?

>> Gio:  What did you want me to mention, Juanita?

>> You placed in the chat about ‑‑

>> Gio:  Right sorry.  Two conversations going at the same time.  In the chat somebody asked if there were any mayan scholars out there.  There’s a ton.  A growing number of us.  Whether in ‑‑ whr whether we think about the nation states, Guatemala, Honduras.  These are empirical concepts.  I’m all about where my people come from in Turtle Island or else [name] we have to be mindful of a lot of us have written histories and stories from a critical perspective.  I think it’s important when we think about people interviewed by journalists.  Whether we think about these issues.  I never see indigenous folks talking about ‑‑ like this panel ‑‑ with the media, right?  Who is represented among other things?  And I think a lot of the authors in the chat it’s not ‑‑ it’s a very limited list that I posted there.  Everyone should be citing [speaking native language] among other right, the list goes on and on and on.  So when I read academic works people cite non‑indigenous, non‑central American scholars.  To it’s not to invalidate these but we’re writing our own stories.  Other scholars try to interview me about my work.  I’m like read my work and cite it.  That’s the whole point, right?  Be mindful in terms who was is represented in what spaces.  The image I showed in terms of indigenous erasure.  It’s known as statistical genocide.  We have to be careful of who is controlling the conversation.  We have to remember that this is a militaristic term borne by the Obama administration.  It’s an imperialistic concept.  People do not use those terms in Guatemala.  We have to be careful in terms who was is controlling the conversation.  Who is identifying the root causes, for instance,.  Biden says it’s security which means narco traffickers and game activity.  He is not mentioning the President of Honduras who is a narco trafficker.  A lot of us have to be mindful of who is speaking in what particular spaces.  That’s why I appreciate this panel.  Thank you.

>> Edna:  Gracias.  Looking forward to read your new work.  And we’re going to start sharing some questions from the audience.  Maybe we can take two to three minutes to answer them.  It’s one for each panelist.

And we’re going to start with the question for Luis.  The question is my relatives have found it difficult to retain our ancestral culture now that we’re living in the territory held by the United States.  How can we ensure that generations coming after us have the opportunity to remember who we are and retain our cultural practices?

>> Luis:  Thank you so much for the question.  I’m not sure if I have an answer.  I can show you what we’re doing at all costs.  Is we hold certain principles here and ‑‑ yeah ‑‑ it’s.  We teach our children the language because the philosophical understanding of our ancestors are embedded in our languages.  And so we teach the values.  I’m not so sure, I have a good answer ‑‑ I’m going to continue working.  We do work for spiritual sovereignty meaning that the spirituality of indigenous peoples is sufficient for our self realization, self actualization or in religious term salvation that we really do need to pass on those spirituality.  Yes, thank you.  Thank you for the question.

>> Edna:  Thank you.  And we have a question for Juanita.  So somebody is asking how can we there we ‑‑ how can ‑‑ sorry.  Okay.  How can there be proper due process at the border for the indigenous communities that doesn’t speak Spanish.  A lot of Americans are apprehended.  What documentation do you have to read it altogether or make it more quote unquote humane?

>> Juanita:  Thank you for the question.  I don’t think ‑‑ [frozen audio] trying to done is one.  Educate our allies and educate those who are working at the border, who are working within legal services and then also potential indigenous allies as well.  Because the big barrier is very basic.  People don’t realize that we exist.  When we don’t exist we can’t even be part of a conversation of comprehensive reform.  We’ve been asking for a long time for real and, again, I said this earlier, full and effective participation of indigenous leadership within a process where we’re actually at the table so that when people come to us and say we need indigenous language interpreters, how can we help but we’re not included there a process from the beginning to develop some sort of solution that is taking into account the particular needs and rights of indigenous peoples and calls in indigenous leadership.  Not just Maya but indigenous leaders, peoples who are all affected by these inhumane border policies meaning indigenous nations and peoples who are ‑‑ whose traditional lands are cut through by the imposed border at the U.S. Mexico border.  It’s also working with indigenous peoples and organizations from Mexico on both sides.  And then, of course, indigenous peoples are coming through all the way from South America.  Indigenous peoples are all through Abiella.  If the conversation doesn’t allow us to be sitting and having a dialogue, when we start identifying identity, language, women’s rights, children’s rights, all which fall under human rights, then somebody else is saying that they are going to fix this for us but don’t even acknowledge that we exist.  And so it’s this process of false response that continues to violate our rights within a process of creating the response.  And so we just really want to be treated as equals.  We want to be seen.  We want to be respected.  And we want people to actually acknowledge that we are indigenous peoples.  Not Latino, not Hispanic, which is a major barrier for the full participation and inclusion in that process.  There’s tremendous knowledge across all of the organizations and peoples working on these issues but often times non‑indigenous peoples are brought in as experts and we’re the last ones to be brought in.  Acknowledge that intellect that we have based and grounded in our work in communities, our connections with our ancestral land and also the innovative ways we’re working to build up language interpreters and build up and use new technologies and platforms, Zoom, and really linking traditional and ancestral knowledge to contemporary ways that defend our rights grounded in who we are as a people.

>> Edna.  Thank you so much.  We have one last question for Giovanni.  Gio, can you speak more about U.S. foreign policy in resource extraction as root causes of migration?

>> Giovanni:  I could go on and on and on but I refer you all to ‑‑ when we think about extraction industries when the discussion of climate change and promoting green energy we have to be mindful in terms of the U.S. role and Europe and other countries involved in these industries especially like Canada.  Let’s not get caught up with the green energy thing.  When you look at the ground level it’s toxic.

Whether we look at hydro electric plants they kill the fish and contaminate the water.  In the case of Codzal the corporation I analyze green power they earn $30 million to $40 million a year in profits from the hydro electric plant and leave less than 1% to the royalties to the municipality.  Who knows what happens to that money but only 37% to the population has access.  All of it’s exported out.  Thinking about development, developing for who?  Another important example is Tesla.  When there was a coupe in Bolivia Elan musk said we can overflow whoever we want.  I just wanted to kind of also mention that thinking about supporting indigenous peoples there’s that fund raiser that I mentioned.  One of the ‑‑ it involves supporting two Maya leaders.  One was a witness during the genocide trial.  The fact that he is here is evident of U.S. foreign policy.  U.S. funded genocide and you have something here forced in detention for to two months.  It tells you something.

There’s a link to a documentary where he was the protagonist.  If you want to learn more about the history of Guatemala.  Please, check that out.  Thank you.

>> Edna:  Thank you so much.  I see Luis raising his hand.  Go ahead.

>> Luis:  I a little bit of delayed reaction.  Spiritual sovereignty is important and territory integrity meaning our territorial but also mainly our sacred sites.  Even if you belong to a station and your territory is occupied by a colonial state you can still look for where your sake receipt sites are and use international ‑‑ sacred sites and use international language to access the sites and exercise political autonomy as well in order to build our economy of life as opposed to the economy of death.  Those are important principles to pass on to our children and the 7th generation.

>> Edna:  We’re going to start closing the event.  Unfortunately, we don’t have more time for all the amazing questions that people have been sending to us.  The team did the best to pick some of the questions relevant to the topics we’re discussing.  We apologize if we couldn’t get to your question.  As we close the event tonight we would like to say thank you to the panelists Juanita, Giovanni and Luis, to the interpreters Mintz and Luis and Adriana, the graphic note taker whose work you are seeing right now.  Nicole and Marilou the closed captioners and all the sponsoring organizations.  And a special thank you top American service committee for the financial support for the interpretation.  Finally we ask you to please, please, please take action by signing the petition.  It’s on the chat right now and you can also find them by visiting and please also donate to the organizations and initiatives of our amazing panelists.  The international mayan league, and support for Maya leaders.  Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for attending and please stay tuned for a follow up email.  We recording in English shall Spanish and Maya Mam along with all the links we shared tonight.  Thank you so much again.

>> Thank you.

>> Thank you all.  Gracias.

>> Thank you.  [native language]

Date: March 26, 2021

Client: Tony Hollenback

Event: Supervision Meeting