Political Education and Horizontal Exchange2020-01-21T18:37:21+00:00

Political Education & Horizontal Exchange

Linking communities in the U.S. and Guatemala in the global movement for justice and self-determination.

NISGUA is committed to strengthening the global movement for justice by building connections between movements in the U.S. and Guatemala. We ground our work in a commitment to racial justice and the recognition that global systems of oppression impact communities in both the U.S. and Guatemala.

In the midst of deepening corruption and repression in both countries, we bring an internationalist focus into our U.S. activism while standing alongside Guatemalan communities fighting for justice and self-determination. We work with movements fighting for Indigenous sovereignty and immigrant rights in the U.S. and Guatemala. We build connections between movements through tours in the U.S., delegations in Guatemala, horizontal exchanges, webinars, and original media production.

The U.S. has a long history of intervention in Guatemala, which includes a coup, support of military dictatorships, massacres, and violent resource extraction. We partner with Guatemalans who defend their land and fight for justice for crimes against humanity. By sharing their stories with U.S. audiences, they increase awareness and inspire grassroots action, illuminating the many ways in which our two countries and the world are connected through histories of resistance.

By prioritizing engagement with communities who are similarly impacted by and struggling to transform structures of oppression, we help create opportunities for frontline activists to share strategies of resistance and resilience. Our U.S. programs work has connected Indigenous communities in resistance against mega-projects, feminist organizations working to end gender-based violence, and youth using art and activism to promote social and environmental justice, among others.

We increase the impact and reach of our work by organizing people to form part of a rapid response network, ready to respond to requests for action when they arise, connect our partners’ struggles with local organizing, and strengthen networks through in-person gatherings and grassroots fundraising.

The group gathers to reflect and dream together in the cloud forest.

Our 2019 delegation of Indigenous students from New Mexico State University (NMSU) gathers in the cloud forest to reflect and plan solidarity actions moving forward.

NISGUA Statements

Racial justice is essential to solidarity work and we must work towards liberation in our solidarity movements.

Read the full statement on racial justice.

Trump’s election and our commitment to internationalism: Solidarity with Guatemalan social movements is an essential component of our social justice strategy here in the U.S.

Read the full statement on Trump’s election.

Latest from Political Education & Horizontal Exchange

26November, 2019

November Solidarity Update 2019

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1November, 2019

October Solidarity Update 2019

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1November, 2019

Sisters in struggle: Indigenous Environmental Network leadership trip to Guatemala

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In September, NISGUA had the honor of hosting a [...]

27September, 2019

September Solidarity Update 2019

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News recap: Hear the voices of our Guatemalan partners [...]

4September, 2019

Solidarity Update: August 2019

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News recap: After presidential elections we amplify our partners' [...]

A photograph of people gathering around a mural.

Indigenous artists, Saba and Guadalupe Vargas paint a mural grounded in the protection of water sources during the Indigenous Symposium in Las Cruces. The Symposium was part of our 2018 tour. Photo Credit: Chantelle Yazzie.

Connecting Guatemalan organizers with people in the U.S. who also struggle for self-determination, respect for the Earth, and the liberation of their communities

Every year, NISGUA organizes a U.S. speaking tour featuring one of our Guatemalan partner organizations. This is one way that we respond to calls from our partners to take action and increase awareness in the U.S. about the situation in Guatemala and the harmful consequences of U.S. foreign and economic policy in their territories. In coordination with volunteers across the U.S., the annual tour engages hundreds of people every year in timely action and horizontal exchange, connecting with movements in the U.S. who are organized against many of the same systems of oppression.

Upcoming tour

2019: Ancestral Movements: Indigenous Territory and Migration with Association Pop No’j

Our 2020 tour will facilitate direct exchanges between Association Pop No’j and Indigenous leaders, immigrant rights activists, and organizers in the U.S.

Who: Association Pop No’j resources and accompanies Maya communities in the development of political, socioeconomic and cultural capacities. One of their focuses is migration & its impact on Indigenous youth and families.
When: April 13-24, 2020
Where: Las Cruces, NM; Albuquerque, NM; Tucson, AZ; Los Angeles, CA

Six women smile in a tight group in front of open windows.

Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) representatives and NISGUA staff smile with Association Pop No’j organizers after a meeting.

Previous tours

A photograph of Indigenous people sitting in a speaking panel.

Indigenous Water Protectors Panel from the Water Symposium. Featured in this picture are Edward Wemytewa of the Zuni Pueblo, Reyes Devore with Pueblo Action Alliance, José Gómez of ACODET, Kim Smith of the Indigenous Goddess Gang and New Energy Economy, Benjamin Gaviao Shendo with the Pueblo Camps at Standing Rock, and Crystal Moran with the Frontera Water Protection Alliance. Photo Credit: Chantelle Yazzie.

2018: How to Stop a Dam with Indigenous Resistance

Our tour in the Western and Southwestern U.S. lifted up lessons from successful organizing in Guatemala’s Ixcán region, where Indigenous communities have resisted the imposition of the Xalalá Dam for over a decade. The tour will featured Maya Mam organizer José Gómez, General Coordinator of the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET).

José spoke about their long-term work to build community power in the face of corporate-led development. At the request of ACODET, events prioritized direct exchange with Indigenous communities fighting for social and environmental justice.

Read more

2017: Guatemalan Youth in Defense of Land and Life

Representing Youth Organized in Defense of Life (JODVID), Alex Escobar met with Latine and environmental student activists groups that are fighting for migrant rights and against environmental racism. He shared stories and perspectives from the youth in his community and their struggle to defend their territory against the Escobal mine.

READ MORE
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2016: Guatemalan Women Healing Towards Justice: The Case of Sepur Zarco

Community psychologist Maudi Tzay strengthened links between movements for gender justice, while she spoke about the Sepur Zarco case – an emblematic case that prosecuted, for the first time, sexual slavery as a crime against humanity in Guatemala.

READ MORE
NISGUA tour speaker Llan Carlos speaks into a megaphone at a protest in Reno, Nevada. Behind him are people holding signs, "This is stolen land," and "In solidarity with the people of Guatemala."

2015: Tahoe on Trial: Guatemalan Communities Defend Land and Life

Llan Carlos Dávila spoke about the work of the Diocesan Committee in Defense of Nature (CODIDENA), a religious group that is leading local efforts to educate and organize communities to protect the Earth and water against transnational mining activities in southern Guatemala – in particular, the Escobal mine.

READ MORE

Latest from our tours

19December, 2018

2018 Tour Speaker Participates in “Indigenous Symposium: Water Protection”

As part of its visit to Las Cruces, New Mexico, NISGUA's fall 2018 speaking tour, "How to Stop a Dam with Indigenous Resistance," participated in a four-day symposium of events dedicated to facilitating direct exchange between Indigenous water protectors. NISGUA tour partner, Maya Mam community leader José Gómez of [...]

29November, 2018

2018 NISGUA Tour stops in Duwamish and Coastal Salish Territories

As the kick-off to NISGUA’s 2018 tour, “How to Stop a Dam with Indigenous Resistance,” we travelled to Seattle on occupied Duwamish and Coastal Salish territories. Duwamish Tribal Chair Cecile Hansen and Jolene Hass generously welcomed Maya Mam activist José Gómez and members of the NISGUA network to the [...]

24October, 2018

“So much to learn” – Meet the Organizers of Our Fall Speaking Tour

For decades, NISGUA has used grassroots speaking tours as a tool to build cross-border, people-to-people connections between social movements in the U.S. and Guatemala. With the support of scores of volunteers, activists, and organizers, NISGUA speaking tours have cultivated deeper understandings of the common forces our communities are up [...]

19October, 2018

Maya Mam environmental activist José Gómez of ACODET to tour the U.S.

MEDIA ADVISORY Contact: David Imhoff, (510) 763-1403, david@nisgua.org 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 [...]

“Having had the ability to go to Guatemala was a tremendously transformative experience that challenged me to contextualize the varied struggles that women face in the country and further inspire me to continue solidarity work here in the U.S.” 

Gladys Garcia, 2017 delegation scholarship recipient from Los Angeles, CA.,

Political education for U.S. organizers who engage with Guatemalan movements and bring lessons home for critical cross-border solidarity

Our delegations are opportunities for NISGUA network members to exchange with our Guatemalan partners. Delegations respond to the call of Guatemalan organizations for international solidarity and form part of a multi-faceted strategy to protect and expand political space and obtain greater security for their organizing efforts.

Delegates are activists who are interested in integrating international solidarity into their local organizing. We support participants to connect learnings to their own political work through interactive workshops and guided opportunities for reflection. Participants return home with a deepened understanding and practice of solidarity, equipped with new resources to effectively and strategically stand with Guatemalan human rights and environmental defenders as an international community that continues to work for social change from within the U.S.

Past delegations

Two women in ribbon skirts stand before 40 people sitting in chairs. Their backs are to the camera and the sun is setting.

2019: Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) Leadership Delegation

This delegation was in service to IEN’s commitment to global grassroots environmental organizing, Indigenous women’s leadership, and grassroots feminism aligned with Indigenous cosmovision. Read more

The delegates pose smiling together.

2019: NMSU Indigenous Environmental Leadership Exchange

Including a visit to Copal AA, lessons on Guatemalan history from genocide survivors, and workshops on Indigenous leadership, this delegation resourced the next generation of Indigenous leaders to have an internationalist lens in their organizing. Read more

2017: Women and the work of liberation in Guatemala

Horizontal exchange with women-led social movements in Guatemala, while exploring the dynamic strategies, resilience practices, and forms of organizing they use in the fight to build a world free from gendered violence, state repression, and environmental degradation.

2016: Communities rise up against the Escobal mine

This delegation met with communities working to prevent the operation and expansion of Canadian-U.S. company Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala, through popular education, grassroots action, and the organizing of community referenda. Read more

2016: NISGUA Sponsoring Community UUCA – PAG

This 10-day delegation with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA) met with NISGUA partners and several human rights and environmental defenders organizations receiving international accompaniment. Read more

2015: Cultural resistance to the Xalalá Dam

Participants traveled to the Ixcán to strengthen relationships with communities threatened by the proposed Xalalá hydroelectric dam, deepen our analysis of the historical and current contexts of state violence, and take the lead from our partners in developing cross-border strategies for advocacy work. Read more

Latest from delegations

1November, 2019

Sisters in struggle: Indigenous Environmental Network leadership trip to Guatemala

In September, NISGUA had the honor of hosting a delegation to Guatemala for representative leaders of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). The delegation featured talks with women land defenders, cultural exchanges, and a community visit to the Chixoy River watershed. There is also so much that cannot be captured [...]

1May, 2019

2019 NISGUA Delegation: Environmental Indigenous Leadership Exchange

This March, NISGUA partnered with New Mexico State University to host a week-long exchange between Indigenous undergraduate students and Maya Q'eqchi', Mam, Q'anjob'al, and K'iche' environmental defenders. Ten NMSU students visited with NISGUA partners in the Chixoy and Copón Rivers watershed to learn about their grassroots organizing model that [...]

22March, 2019

NISGUA partners with New Mexico State University for Indigenous delegation to Guatemala

This March 23-30, NISGUA is partnering with New Mexico State University to host a week-long exchange between Indigenous undergraduate students and Mayan environmental defenders. Ten NMSU students will visit with NISGUA partners in the Chixoy and Copón Rivers watershed to learn about their grassroots organizing model that builds community-level [...]

25February, 2016

Sponsoring Communities take action: UUCA and NISGUA together in Guatemala

One of the pillars of international human rights accompaniment is the backing of a strong and active international network that commits to ongoing education of the international community about the human rights context of those we accompany, monitors the specific situations of those human rights defenders, and is ready [...]

14April, 2015

A report-back on NISGUA’s Rivers for Life Delegation

When Víctor Caal Tzuy came to the U.S. last fall to speak about indigenous peoples’ fight for self-determination in Guatemala, he ended many of his presentations by inviting people to his home to see for themselves how and why more than 50 communities have united in opposition to the [...]

Gathering our communities to reflect, take action, and build stronger networks in the global grassroots fight for social justice

NISGUA’s grassroots base extends across the U.S. and beyond. In coordination with our advocacy and campaign work, we create opportunities for people to gather and grow our movement. Coming together in spaces such as the annual Platanos Dinner with GNIB, house parties, accompanier report-backs, and photo campaigns, our gatherings focus on community-building, political education, and grassroots fundraising.

As a 100% grassroots-funded organization, we see our fundraising and political education initiatives as closely linked. Gatherings combine education with action by raising international awareness about pressing struggles for social justice in Guatemala and organizing our people to take action. At the same time, we give local organizers the opportunity to actively fund our solidarity movement and invite new people to make tangible financial contributions to NISGUA’s work as donors.

A photograph of an Ojibwe woman speaking into a microphone in front of many sitting people.

Rene Ann Goodrich speaks about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis at a NISGUA screening of 500 Years, a documentary about the struggle for justice after the Maya genocides.

Latest from Gatherings

23May, 2018

Grassroots Cinema: Join NISGUA this summer by hosting a community screening of 500 YEARS!

This summer and fall, join NISGUA activists across the country in advancing conversations about international movements for social and environmental justice! We’re inviting our network to grow our capacity for cross-border solidarity by hosting a documentary film screening and discussion in their community. Documentary filmmaker and NISGUA supporter Pamela [...]

22November, 2017

Sponsoring Communities: Needham’s Guatemala Partnership celebrates 30 years of solidarity

NISGUA's Sponsoring Community partnerships provide the resources, energy and political action required to ensure ongoing international accompaniment in Guatemala. Their long-term commitment to human rights and solidarity is an essential component of the longevity and sustainability of the Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP). The Needham Congregational Church/Guatemala Partnership is one of [...]

4July, 2017

Our commitment to racial justice

*Racial justice is essential to solidarity work* *Internationalism and the instructive resilience and courage of 500 years of resistance to colonialism and imperialism are essential to local struggles for justice in the U.S.* *We must work towards liberation in our solidarity movement* The Power of a Racial Justice Framework [...]