Contact: David Imhoff, (510) 763-1403,

Event Details: Maya Mam Indigenous Water Defender to visit Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico & Washington

(Guatemala City/Oakland, CA): José Gómez, Maya Mam community leader and co-coordinator of the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET), will tour the western United States in November to meet with other Indigenous leaders and activists fighting to protect their waters. ACODET is a coalition of Indigenous communities in Guatemala’s rural Ixcán region that has used grassroots organizing to halt construction on the Xalalá project – a mega-dam that, if built, would flood multiple communities and have a devastating impact on life in the region.

“ACODET’s fight to defend our territories and common resources is unending. Through grassroots organizing, we will continue to monitor, to organize through workshops and popular education schools, and to strengthen community organization with ancestral authorities, women, and youth, so that if one day the government tries to reactivate the Xalalá project, they’ll be met with massive organization and struggle from communities standing in defense of their territories.” – José Gómez, ACODET

As a leader of ACODET, Mr. Gómez is a key liaison for inter-community monitoring of megadevelopment in the region.  He coordinates locally with community representatives, women’s committees, and local development councils to develop the organization’s community defense strategy and security plan. On the national level, he coordinates with an alliance of ancestral authorities to strengthen strategies to promote the rights of Indigenous peoples and the protection of nature. Most recently, he helped to coordinate meetings with U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People Victoria Tauli-Corpuz during her 2018 visit to Guatemala.

Mr. Gómez will be joined by Becky Kaump, the Guatemala Programs Coordinator of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). NISGUA advocates for an end to U.S. militarism and strengthens Guatemalan movements for justice, accountability, and self-determination through international human rights accompaniment, grassroots advocacy, and horizontal exchange.

“As Indigenous people, creating international links with communities from other countries strengthens our struggle for the protection and stewardship of our common resources. Solidarity helps us acquire information about, and intervene in, the capitalist system’s plans against our people.” – José Gómez, ACODET

On November 17, the tour will join a convergence of over 300 social justice organizations on the U.S.-Mexico border to denounce militarism and build strategies to dismantle border imperialism. The tour will also make stops in Seattle, WA; Bellingham, WA; Denver, CO; Las Cruces, NM; and Tucson, AZ.

For more information or to arrange an interview with José Gómez or NISGUA, please contact:

David Imhoff, U.S. Operations and Programs Coordinator
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
(510) 763-1403 |