News recap: Join NISGUA- as staff or as an accompanier!; Survivors Respond as Guatemalan Congress Threatens Amnesty; Sign On in Solidarity with Cross-Border Indigenous Organizing for Self-Determination; Plurinational Government, Omaha Nation Hold Summit in Q’anjob’al territory, Huehuetenango; International Mayan League Holds Vigil Demanding Justice for Youth Killed by U.S. Immigration System; International Organizations Publish Letter in Solidarity with La Puya

Solidarity Update: February 2019
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Are you a committed activist working for global justice and self-determination? Join the NISGUA team as a Digital Organizer & Partnerships Coordinator! This position will work with Guatemalan social movements, creating organizing and communications strategies that amplify Guatemalan organizers' demands for justice and moves our U.S. base to take action. Applications are due by March 1.

We are also accepting applications for 2019 accompaniers. If you are interested in standing in solidarity with Guatemalan activists under threat for their organizing, apply by March 15!
Click here to learn more about these opportunities!

Survivors of State Terror Respond as Guatemalan Congress Threatens Decades of Work for Justice

Maya Achi sexual violence survivors and their lawyers, after filing an injunction against proposed amnesty legislation in Constitutional Court.
Photo credit: Lisa Rankin, Al-Jazeera

The Guatemalan Congress is moving closer to legislating impunity for crimes against humanity, sexual violence, forced disappearance, and genocide. A proposed amendment to the National Reconciliation Law would allow amnesty for crimes committed during the Internal Armed Conflict. It would also halt investigation and prosecution of multiple open cases, and would free people awaiting trial or already convicted within 24 hours of a judge granting permission.
Guatemalan survivors have rallied against the amendment under the cry, “Amnesty is Impunity.” Maya Achí sexual violence survivors, already leading a court case against their attackers, filed an injunction to contest the amendment's legality. Guatemalan organizations, including NISGUA partners CALDH and HIJ@S, spoke out, releasing statements and a sign-on letter demanding survivors' rights to truth and justice.
The international community has roundly decried the proposed legislation, with solidarity organizations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and even the U.S. State Department saying that the amnesty law would mean a setback for justice.
The proposed amnesty law comes as part of a larger effort to ensure impunity’s reign in Guatemala. The Morales administration continues to defy Constitutional Court decisions that mandate the continued presence on the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. Meanwhile, Congress is also considering a bill that targets NGOs.
Despite serious threats posed by the current government, Guatemalan activists continue seeking justice and protecting historical memory. Stand with them by taking urgent action against the proposed amnesty legislation by signing this petition and joining in this letter writing campaign.

Stand in Solidarity with Cross-Border Indigenous Organizing for Self-Determination

A sign reminding all who enter an ACODET community that in their community consultation, community members said "No to dams, no to petroleum exploitation. Yes to life and land for the peoples." Photo credit: NISGUA

Our 2018-2019 campaign focusing on Indigenous organizing for self-determination in Guatemala and the U.S is drawing to a close! We are excited to finish the campaign with an exchange between Indigenous youth leaders from New Mexico State University and the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET) in Guatemala in March.

We are inspired by the connections and shared learning that this campaign facilitated between Indigenous activists beyond colonial borders. Connections were built in an Indigenous water protectors symposium in New Mexico attended by representatives from 16 Indigenous nations, local exchanges with Indigenous leaders throughout the 2018 fall speaking tour featuring ACODET coordinator José Gómez, a grassroots cinema screening of 500 YEARS in Minnesota linking Mayan and Anishinaabeg resistances, a museum exhibit and Bay Area presentations by Maya Kaqchikel photographer Roderico Diaz, and more.

As we head into the final days of this campaign we are calling for your support of ACODET's statement demanding respect for community consultations and Indigenous self-determination. 

ACODET has asked NISGUA to gather signatures to the statement from Indigenous nations, organizations, and individuals, as well as signatures to a supporting ally petition. Signatories from across Guatemala, the United States, and Canada will demonstrate their cross-border commitment to Indigenous sovereignty. NISGUA will accompany ACODET and Q'eqchi' ancestral authorities when they deliver the statement and the petition to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala in March.

Click here to read the statement & take action!

Plurinational Government, Omaha Nation Hold Summit in Q’anjob’al territory, Huehuetenango

Members of the Omaha and Q'anjob'al Maya Nations participate in the summit.
Photo Credit: Omaha and Q'anjob'al Maya Nations

One signatory to the above-mentioned statement is the U.S. Extension of the Plurinational Government of the Akateko, Chuj, Popti, and Q’anjob’al Maya. In September, the Plurinational Government and the Omaha Nation held a historic summit in Q’anjob’al territory, Huehuetenango.
The international delegation focused on deepening solidarity between the two nations, who have collaborated since 2009 in what is now called Nebraska. The summit was organized to coincide with the 11th Anniversary of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as during an important time in the Q’anjob’al Sacred Calendar when elders consult the ancestors to guide the nation’s direction.
Key outcomes of the summit, which also included gatherings with Maya K’iche' and Kaqchickel communities, include a plan to extend honorary tribal membership to Mayans living on Omaha territory, secure a position on city and state councils on Indigenous Peoples issues for the Maya Government Ambassador to the Omaha Nation, establish a bi-national exchange program for Indigenous youth, and to continue in prayer for the mutual protection of each nation’s sacred sites.

International Mayan League Holds Vigil Demanding Justice for Youth Killed by US Immigration System

Vigil participants gather in Washington, D.C. to demand justice.
Photo Credit: International Mayan League/USA

The International Mayan League (IML) organized a vigil and protest outside of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC to demand justice for Jakelin Caal Maquin (Maya Q’eqchi’, 7 years old) and Felipe Gómez Alonzo (Maya Chuj, 8 years old), both of whom died under U.S. Customs and Border Patrol custody in December, as well as Claudia Patricia Gómez González (Maya Mam, 20 years old), who was murdered by a CBP agent in May. Participants were joined by members of the Piscataway Nation, Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips, and Gilberto Gómez, father of Claudia Gómez Gonzáles, who joined via livestream from San Juan Ostuncalco, Guatemala. 
The vigil mourned the loss of these Guatemalan youth, demanded investigations into their deaths, and drew attention to the particular impacts that U.S. border policy has on Indigenous peoples. In a statement following the vigil, Juanita Cabrera Lopez (Maya Mam) of IML declared that “decades of U.S. intervention, foreign aid, and technical assistance have caused inhumane conditions in our countries of origin. Civil wars, dictatorships, and genocide are part of our recent history that forced hundreds of thousands of us to flee. Corruption, impunity, and lawlessness are the remnants of broken systems. Indigenous peoples are some of the most affected populations within our countries, particularly in Guatemala.” 
Demands from the vigil included an exhaustive and transparent investigation into the deaths of the three youth; a guarantee of personal safety for Jakelin and Felipe’s fathers, both of whom remain in detention; and conditions for the three young witnesses to Claudia Patricia’s murder to provide their testimony free of intimidation and in their native Mayan language, Mam. IML also called for withdrawal of U.S. funds for migration prevention that do not invest in education or economic justice, a review of CBP detention conditions with a focus on Indigenous children, and full implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

International Organizations Publish Letter in Solidarity with La Puya

NISGUA joined 10 international organizations in solidarity with the Peaceful Resistance “La Puya,” which has fought corporate greed and resource extraction in Guatemala for nearly seven years. Since 2012, communities have physically opposed the El Tambor gold mine, owned by the U.S. company, Kappes, Cassiday, & Associates (KCA), by maintaining a round-the-clock encampment. Mining operations were suspended by court order in 2016 due to failure to consult impacted Indigenous communities, but now La Puya is facing a new threat from international trade schemes. 
On December 11, 2018, KCA filed a $300 million arbitration claim against Guatemala to the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) over alleged violations of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). In response, La Puya representatives held a press conference, stating that, “We are concerned given the fact that this foreign company, that has criminalized and altered the social peace of our communities, is attacking the life of ecosystems in the area and the quality of human life.” Later, the Peaceful Resistance spoke out again in response to increasing military presence in the area, saying local authorities had failed to provide a reason for the deployment, which came just one month after the international arbitration claim was filed.
NISGUA, in conjunction with other international organizations, will continue to stand in solidarity with the Peaceful Resistance "La Puya."

We're in this for the long haul.

At the center of each of our Solidarity Updates are people facing real risks for speaking out against impunity, state and corporate violence, and working towards justice. We provide international accompaniment and/or advocacy support to all of the organizations and individuals that we write about, as one attempt to dissuade further attacks human rights defenders face for speaking out.
Make a donation to NISGUA today to help answer the calls of our partners for ongoing accompaniment support and much needed advocacy on the long road to justice.
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