News recap: Psychologist Maudi Tzay joins NISGUA this fall on tour in the United States; Eight former military to stand trial for charges in the CREOMPAZ case; Urban activists return to Central Square for the Day for Heroes and Martyrs; Seven political prisoners from Huehuetenango go to trial.

This and more in this month’s Solidarity Update.

Trial continues for seven political prisoners from Huehuetenango.
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Solidarity Update: July 21, 2016

Justice & Accountability

  • Psychologist Maudí Tzay joins NISGUA this fall on tour in the United States
  • Eight former military to stand trial for charges in the CREOMPAZ case
  • Urban activists return to Central Square for the Day for Heroes and Martyrs

Defense of Life & Territory

  • Seven political prisoners from Huehuetenango go to trial
  • Communities impacted by Tahoe Resources threatened with a new mining project
  • JODVID: a powerful youth organization speaking out against mining

News from the Grassroots

  • Become a human rights accompanier! 
  • This summer, take a chance for justice

Join us this fall on our tour of the Southwestern and Western U.S. and hear from Maudí Tzay about the role of healing in justice and the global importance of the victory in the case of Sepur Zarco!


Psychologist Maudí Tzay joins NISGUA this fall on tour in the United States

While international media have brought attention to many important cases prosecuting former military for crimes against humanity in Guatemala, much of the labor behind these cases goes unseen. For decades, Guatemalan organizations have worked to gather testimonies and carry out exhumations, with the goal of building a strong case and ensure that this type of violence is never repeated.
Many Guatemalan feminist organizations have worked to create spaces of empowerment within these legal processes, recognizing that there can be no justice without healing. Maudí Tzay is one such woman. She works as a psychologist with ECAP, accompanying the women survivors from Sepur Zarco and their families, and will join NISGUA on this fall’s speaking tour.
We’ll kick off the two-week tour in Nogales, Arizona, where we will join activists from across the U.S. in denouncing ongoing U.S. militarism in Latin America at the SOA Watch Convergence at the U.S./Mexico border. We will take the tour throughout the Southwest and Western U.S. in activities and talks organized by Guatemalan solidarity and feminist groups. Follow our blog for tour updates, and connect with for ways you can get involved!

Eight former military to stand trial for charges in the CREOMPAZ case

Last month, a Guatemalan judge ordered eight retired military officials to stand trial for forced disappearances and crimes against humanity in one of the largest cases of forced disappearance in Latin America’s history.
Plaintiff organizations have appealed the judge’s decision to remove some of the accused from the case and have raised concerns about the omission of charges of sexual violence. While twelve former military officers were arrested on January 6 in connection to this case, only eight will stand trial; three have had charges dropped and one has been temporarily removed due to health issues.  For the full statement from plaintiff organizations, click here.
NISGUA recently published an in-depth report on the case, with analysis of the accused officers' connections to elite military power in Guatemala today. The report is available in both English and Spanish.
The trial is expected to open again later this year. Follow @NISGUA_Guate on Twitter for live updates of the trial and more analysis on our blog.

Urban activists return to Central Square for the Day for Heroes and Martyrs

In celebration of life and resistance, members of HIJOS and other allies marched on June 30 in honor of their heroes and martyrs. This year was the seventeenth for the march; for eight years, it has successfully replaced the military parade planned for National Army Day.
Raúl, a member of HIJOS, spoke in front of the Casa de la Memoria in Zone 1 of Guatemala City about the importance of knowing the history that isn’t taught in school textbooks: “We uphold the memory of our loved ones, recognizing that upholding memory doesn’t only bring pain. We rewrite our history, writing in the moments of resistance, of organizing, of struggle, of solidarity between peoples, built on commitment and consistency over decades and decades of struggle that has been carried out across the country. Our struggle is to write our own history.”
Amidst escalations in hate speech and attacks on social media by actors affiliated with the military, the peaceful march was carried out and ended with a celebration of ongoing resistance in central square. Visit our blog for more from the day and a full statement released by HIJOS, and visit our Facebook album for pictures from the event.

"We are the seed that you could not exterminate..."

Activists from HIJOS march during the annual Day for Heroes and Martyrs. 


Seven political prisoners from Huehuetenango go to trial

After more than a year in pre-trial detention, the public trial against seven political prisoners from Huehuetenango has opened. The men have been criminalized for their roles mediating conflict as community leaders and ancestral authorities in northern Huehuetenango.
The trial focuses on events between 2013-2015 related to organized civil society protests against the imposition of hydroelectric dams and other natural resource exploitation without community consent.
International human rights organizations have recognized the arbitrary use of pretrial detention and prolonged legal proceedings as strategies to criminalize and suppress social protest in defense of territory on a global scale. The malicious litigation strategies used by the joint plaintiffs, who until recently included workers from the hydroelectric company, Hidro Santa Cruz, have been to prolong the pretrial hearings as long as possible, keeping the men away from their families and communities to undermine local organizing.
Despite such tactics, the political prisoners and the resistance movements they represent have shown deepened resilience and determination. Rigoberto Juárez, a Q’anjob’al ancestral authority who has been detained for more than a year, said in his opening statement: "If we have the opportunity to become free, we’ll go back to our communities and keep working for life.”
Through ACOGUATE, NISGUA provides international accompaniment to this case. The trial is expected to wrap up shortly with a possible verdict as soon as this week.

Communities impacted by Tahoe Resources threatened with a new mining project

Over the past five years, communities in southeastern Guatemala have used local and municipal consultations, peaceful protests, and court injunctions to express opposition to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine and to challenge its legality. While Tahoe has been the main focus of opposition, communities have organized to prevent other companies from expanding into the area.
With little information and no transparency, it appears that an exploration license has been awarded to the distastefully-named Gunpoint Exploration. The Canadian-based silver company holds the “El Escorpion” license, located just west of Tahoe’s Escobal project. Gunpoint's president and chairman, Randy Reifel, is a veteran transnational mining executive with a legacy of developing highly-contested mining projects in Guatemalan communities. He played a primary role in the development and financing of the Marlin mine in northwestern Guatemala, in the Maya Mam territory of San Marcos. Mr. Reifel was also on the board of directors of Goldcorp when they obtained the explorations licenses for the Escobal silver project that would eventually be sold to Tahoe Resources for $505 million dollars in 2010.
Communities in the area sent a letter to Randy Reifel, expressing concern that the company would chose to do business in an area where local residents have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to mining. Read the full letter here. 

JODVID: a powerful youth organization speaking out against mining 

Topacio Reynoso was an artist, a musician, and a youth leader from Mataquescuintla in the movement against Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine. In 2014, when she was 16 years old, she was killed in an armed attack that left her father, Alex Reynoso, seriously injured. Partly to keep her memory and work alive, JODVID (Youth Organized in Defense of Life) was born the following year, and brings youth voices to the anti-mining resistance movement that has been active in the area since 2010.
In June, members of JODVID from Mataquescuintla and San Rafael las Flores came together to paint a mural in honor of their martyrs who have died defending their lands.
Franklin, an organizer with JODVID expressed: “For us, the overall well-being of our communities is what’s important. We don’t want to live in places that are contaminated. We need to work towards a healthy future,” he said. “But we aren’t just looking towards the future. We are working on structural changes right now, and through our own perspectives and through our own movements, we are already generating changes.”
JODVID chose to create a mural to inspire more youth to join the movement to protect their communities from mining. “Why do we use art?” Franklin continues. “We think it’s important to express opposition to the companies in different ways and give a different perspective to the organizing that is already happening. We see the youth movement as playing an important and unique role.”

Youth from JODVID paint a mural using a collage of butterfly images that Topacio drew.


Become a human rights accompanier in Guatemala! 

As attacks against human rights defenders in Guatemala increase, we continue to receive requests for international human rights accompaniment to dissuade against attacks against communities resisting militarism and defending the earth.
Are you interested in joining the growing network of NISGUA accompaniers who have responded to this call over the past 20 years? We are now accepting applications for the next cohort of accompaniers, for placements throughout 2017. Applications are due October 15, 2016. Visit our website for more information and details on how to apply.

This summer, take a chance for justice

We’ve just launched our summer drawing and this year, the prizes are better than ever. With every $25 donation to NISGUA through our drawing, you increase your odds of winning a 2-night stay at the World Fellowship Center, handmade Guatemalan textiles, or our grand prize – a roundtrip ticket to Guatemala! With dozens of prizes and only 400 tickets sold, your odds couldn’t be better. Tickets are on sale until September 4.

Stand in solidarity with the women survivors of Sepur Zarco.

Participate in a nationally-coordinated photo campaign by drawing links to your local feminist movements for gender justice in the United States. 

Visit NISGUA on Facebook for more photos from the campaign!
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