Political Education and Horizontal Exchange2019-05-21T15:49:41+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, immigrant rights, and anti-militarization 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, not the least of which includes the 1954 overthrow of democratically-elected president Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. This U.S. intervention initiated an era of military dictatorships that included U.S.-backed regimes who carried out genocide and crimes against humanity, and whose legacy continues to this day. As U.S. mining companies fight to take lands away from communities, creative resistance continues on many fronts. We partner with Guatemalan organizations who are standing up against impunity, peacefully defending their lands against mega-development projects, or fighting for justice for genocide and 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 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 organized resistance to mining, feminist organizations working to end gender-based violence, and youth using art and activism to promote social and environmental justice, among others.

U.S. programs increases 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.

Latest Actions

Despite clear and constant community opposition to Tahoe’s Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala, Senator Heller continues to bak the company. Give him the facts he needs!

Guatemalan human rights and land defender, Sebastián Alonso Juan, was murdered on January 17, 2017 during a peaceful protest against the imposition of a mega-hydroelectric dam project. Photo: Francisco Simón / Prensa Comunitaria

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

Connecting Guatemalan human rights and environmental defenders 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 the organizations that we work with in Guatemala. This is one concrete way that we respond to calls from our partners to take action and increase awareness in the U.S. about the human rights 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 challenges.

Upcoming tour

2018: How to Stop a Dam with Indigenous Resistance

This November, NISGUA is planning events throughout the Western and Southwestern U.S. to lift 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 feature Maya Mam organizer José Gómez, a representative of the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET) who will speak about their long-term work to build community power in the face of corporate-led development. At the request of ACODET, events will prioritize direct exchange with Indigenous communities fighting for social and environmental justice.

Get connected!

Previous tours

2017: Guatemalan Youth in Defense of Land and Life

Representing Youth Organized in Defense of Life (JODVID), Alex Escobar met with local Latinx and environmental student activists groups and organizations, 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 transnational corporate power.

Read more


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 who is leading local efforts to educate and organize communities to protect the Earth and water against transnational mining activities in southern Guatemala – in particular, Tahoe Resources’ Escobal project. 

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 [...]

29July, 2018

2018 Speaking Tour: How to Stop a Dam with Indigenous Resistance

In these times of intensifying repression and political upheaval, our social movements urgently need to share concrete lessons and strategies for organizing to defend land and life. The Latin American solidarity movement has a powerful contribution to make in strengthening global justice struggles by facilitating direct exchange between leaders [...]

“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, Your Content Goes Here

Deepening the political education of members of U.S. activists, who travel to Guatemala, engage with Guatemalan movements, and bring those lessons home for critical cross-border solidarity.

Members of the NISGUA network visit Guatemalan communities and organizations that seek justice and accountability, an end to impunity, and stand in defense of life and territory. Typically spanning 10 days, the visit to Guatemala offers the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the realities faced by Guatemalan and indigenous communities in their fight for self-determination and human rights. NISGUA 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.

Our delegations are made up of 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

2017: Women and the work of liberation in Guatemala

This delegation in 2017 allowed for 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

Our 2016 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), home to NISGUA Sponsoring Community, Partners for Arlington and Guatemala (PAG), 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 on the 2015 delegation 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

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 [...]

5February, 2014

NISGUA leads delegation with UUCA to Guatemala

UUCA delegates gather with NISGUA staff in Antigua. All photos: David McTaggart This past December, NISGUA organized and hosted a ten-day delegation with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA), home to NISGUA Sponsoring Community, Partners for Arlington and Guatemala (PAG). 
Twelve members of the UUCA congregation formed the [...]

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

NISGUA’s grassroots base extends across the United States and beyond. In coordination with our advocacy and campaign work, we create opportunities for people in our network to gather and grow our solidarity movement through nationally-coordinated actions. Coming together in spaces such as the annual Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP) Gathering, house parties, accompanier report-back tours, 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 national action at the local level. 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.

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 [...]

16February, 2017

Protect Sacred Sites – Support NISGUA local action!

NISGUA is committed to taking leadership from and acting in solidarity with indigenous peoples in Guatemala and globally. With our U.S. office based in Oakland, CA, we are also committed to taking local action alongside the Chochenyo Ohlone peoples upon whose lands we are guests. A 5,000-year-old Ohlone Shellmound [...]