Drawing deeper connections through international solidarity, linking communities in the U.S. and Guatemala in the global movement for justice and self-determination.
NISGUA is committed to strengthening our collective solidarity work by building connections with local U.S.-based social and environmental justice movements, both within our organization and in our network. We ground this in a commitment to racial justice and the recognition that global systems of oppression impact both communities in the U.S. and the Guatemalans with whom we stand in solidarity.
In the midst of a deepening corruption and repression in the U.S. and in Guatemala, we draw meaningful connections between movements in both countries – bringing an internationalist focus into our local activism while continuing to stand with Guatemalan communities fighting for justice and self-determination. We continue to say “!Presente!” in local movements for indigenous solidarity, immigrant rights, and anti-militarization, while deepening our work through political education and horizontal exchange. We help facilitate online and in-person exchanges between Guatemalan and U.S. social movements.
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.
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
“They’ll be met with massive organization and struggle” – NISGUA interviews Maya Mam community leader José Gómez of ACODET
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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
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.