Solidarity in the context of COVID-19
We are deeply aware that this pandemic was preventable. Governments and neoliberal institutions have failed us. We also know that those who are systematically oppressed by racism, xenophobia, transphobia, and classism will be the most impacted by this crisis. At the same time, these same communities, especially those who are disabled and chronically ill, are those from whom we have the most to learn in times of crisis. We are grateful for their instructive leadership, and we are listening.
International accompaniment in these times will look very different. We are working alongside our partners and others with whom we collaborate to make the very best decisions as to how we can prevent the spread of the virus, while finding creative ways to support and accompany our partners. The Guatemalan state has put into place extensive measures to prevent the spread of the virus. While state-wide precautions are necessary, we have serious concerns around the potential for increased criminalization and militarization during these times.
In light of the rapidly changing nature of this crisis, we will periodically update this page with action opportunities in solidarity with the people most impacted by state failures and discrimination. Please check back frequently!
For decades, NISGUA has focused on political organizing and international accompaniment at the request of our Guatemalan partners. Unlike many non-profits, we do not believe that apolitical charity will change the systems of violence that impact Black, Indigenous, POC, poor, and colonized communities. We do believe that mutual aid can be used as a timely tool to redistribute resources to people most impacted by a given situation. Anytime we engage in or facilitate mutual aid, we do so with a firm grounding in political education, long-term relationships, commitment to systemic change, and full decision-making by the most impacted people.
NISGUA redistributes a percentage of our annual income to Indigenous and Campesino groups in the U.S. and Guatemala. In light of the COVID-19 crisis we will significantly increase these small grants for 2020 and will distribute almost $25K to our partners in Guatemala thanks to a small group of grassroots movement funders. In addition, we will make our annual gift, or Shuumi in acknowledgement of the unceded Ohlone territories where our Oakland office and staff reside.
These are fundraisers that we trust will go directly go to Indigenous, Campesino, and poor/working class Guatemalan people impacted by COVID-19:
- “Nuestro objetivo es ayudar a las familias más pobres o necesitadas de nuestro municipio San Rafael Pétzal ante esta PANDEMIA MUNDIAL que se llama CORONAVIRUS.”
- “The fund will help cover basic necessities such as food, medicines and protective equipment as well as increased operational costs such as telecommunications and transportation.” Write “BTS Emergency Solidarity Fund” in the comment box.
- “The Central Valley Mutual Aid Relief Fund provides economic relief to undocumented individuals and mixed status families across the San Joaquin Valley during the COVID-19 public health crisis.”
- “Kaqchikel-Maya folks are trying to raise funds for the village of Patzun, Chimaltenango in one of the 1st places hit by the COVID-19.”
- “Help raise $30,000 to support food solidarity and multilingual informational media with Mayan communities in Guatemala. Grassroots community organizations DESGUA and Promotores de la Liberacion Migrante (PLM), with more than fifteen collective years working with Mayan communities , are collaborating in efforts to recover from the impacts and consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown.”
- “In the spirit of solidarity, IWOC NYC is helping collect funds for Magdaleno, an undocumented neighbor who passed from COVID19 on April 12th at Maimonides Medical Center.“
- “Join International Mayan League/USA, Centreville Immigration Forum, and SURJ Northern Virginia in supporting indigenous families in Centreville, VA.”
“In response to the growing public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the United States government’s inadequate response, we have developed this working toolkit to help guide and support the work of organizations and individuals looking to demand the release of people in ICE custody. Organizations and individuals should assess their capacity and determine what strategies and targets fit best with the resources they have available and the number of people involved. This is by no means an exhaustive list of options and existing tools, its an attempt to centralize what has already been created and make it accessible to different local and regional contexts. ” – Detention Watch Network
“We sent a letter to Daniel Bible at ICE today, demanding that he use his powers to release immigrants in detention who are at great risk during normal times, let-alone during a pandemic. We’re asking you to join us, and use the form below to add your voice. Send a message to Daniel Bible and ICE, to free detained immigrants.
The immigrant community is at grave risk.
“Infectious disease outbreaks have a long history of preying on society’s most vulnerable, disenfranchised members.” – NY Times
#COVD19 is no exception.
That is why we are asking you to take action with us, using the form below, to tell ICE to release all immigrants in detention, because detention is no place for a family, and no place for a family to be during a pandemic.” – RAICES
“Given the recent danger of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are gravely concerned about the health of more than 37,000 people in immigration jails across the country. From Japanese internment to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, history shows that disease is one of the main causes of death once human beings are warehoused under inhumane conditions.” – Grassroots Leadership
“We are writing to express our grave concern about the ongoing detention of numerous asylum seekers in the ICE Port Isabel Detention Center, Los Fresnos, Texas. The great majority of these persons have never committed a crime. Moreover, they have families with legal status here in the United States who are eager to take them in while their immigration cases are processed. Prior to this administration, release of these migrants to their families would have been routine.” – Port Isabel Detention Center Petition
“Sheriff Horton and Regional ICE Field Director Diane Witte must take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of all the people at Etowah County Detention Center and County Jail. Earlier this week, Shut Down Etowah sent letters to acting New Orleans Field Office Director Diane Witte ((bit.ly/ICEDemands) and Etowah County Sheriff, Jonathan Horton (bit.ly/HortonDemands) demanding that they release all people held within the Etowah County Jail and Detention Center, publicly share their plans to prevent, and mitigate an outbreak of COVID-19, and provide immediate and adequate medical care to anyone who contracts COVID-19 while in their custody. We ask that you join us in asking Sheriff Horton and Field Office Director Diane Witte to release those in immigrant and county detention because a cage is no place for our family, friends, and community to endure the dangers of this worsening health crisis.”
“Dear Mayor Woodfin, Chief Smith, Judge Sparks, and City Attorney King: We are concerned community members writing to you to emphasize your role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Birmingham and to urge you to respond swiftly, intentionally, and justly to this unprecedented health crisis. The COVID-19 global pandemic is expanding rapidly in our county and city, even as Alabama begins to reopen. With positive cases of COVID-19 recently confirmed in the Birmingham Police Department, it is no longer a matter of if, but when this novel coronavirus shows up in the Birmingham City Jail.”
“Policymakers and the administration have put forward plans that attempt to return the economy back to a status quo where safety and security are promised only to corporations and the wealthy few. Gambling trillions of tax dollars on stimulating the stock market can’t fix the shortage of hospital beds, or the pollution in our skies. Only workers can.
In this moment of crisis, we need to change the rules. Let’s pull together, as we’ve done in times past, to demand our government provides money and care to those who are hardest hit by this crisis.” – ThePeoplesBailout.org
Actions to take:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into an unprecedented national emergency. This emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis – that of poverty and inequality and of a society that ignores the needs of 140 million people who are poor or a $400 emergency away from being poor.
These millions of people are in dire need of critical attention immediately. We call on you to fulfill your moral and Constitutional responsibilities: expand the COVID-19 emergency provisions to care for us all and enact our Moral Agenda immediately.” – Poor People’s Campaign
In July 2019, the Guatemalan Interior Minister and the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security signed an Asylum Cooperation Agreement, also known as a “safe third country agreement.” This signing came after the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ordered former President Morales not to sign the agreement without congressional approval. After Trump threatened to ban Guatemalans with lawful U.S. visas and to tax remittances, Morales sent his Interior Minister to sign. In the following weeks, El Salvador and Honduras signed similar agreements.
The agreements give the U.S. power to deport asylum-seekers to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador even if they are not from these countries. By deporting asylum-seekers to countries they are not from and to places where they may face danger, the U.S. denies them protection and violates international refugee law.
Due to the pandemic, on March 17th the Guatemalan government announced a temporary suspension of flights carrying migrants being deported from the U.S. to Guatemala under the safe third country agreements. This suspension has not terminated the agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, and deportations are scheduled to resume as soon as “sanitary protocols are established.” With our partner organizations we will continue to demand “No safe third country agreements with Central America!” and to stand in solidarity with migrants that are being disproportionately affected by this pandemic.