News recap: Xinka Parliament, Lawyer Quelvin Jiménez, and Peaceful Resistance Under Threat; In Blow to Justice, Judge Frees 6 Men Accused of Sexual Violence against Maya Achi Woman; 2019 Accompanier Cohort Participates in NISGUA’s Organizer Training in Berkeley; Fugitive Ex-Chief of Operations Under Ríos Montt Captured on Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Charges; NISGUA’s Most Ambitious May Match Campaign Yet Is a Success – Thanks to You; Contribute Photos for the 2020 Calendar!

Solidarity Update: June 2019
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TAKE ACTION: Xinka Parliament, Lawyer Quelvin Jiménez, and Peaceful Resistance Under Threat

For months, Xinka Parliament lawyer Quelvin Jiménez has been the target of death threats, defamation, intimidation, and surveillance. On June 23, Jiménez was criminalized. During a community assembly in Jumaytepeque, a violent confrontation broke out in which a small group led by local lawyer Christina Villalta García attacked Xinka Parliament representatives and other community members. While Jiménez transferred an injured man to the hospital, Villalta García cut off his car and screamed that he had attacked her. The police arrested Jiménez on the spot, and held him for over five hours. After his release, threats immediately resumed against Jiménez.

Participate in Amnesty International's Urgent Action for Jiménez
Organizational sign-on: Letter to Guatemala's Attorney General demanding justice for the violence and criminalization
Xinka Parliament holds a press conference to denounce company interference in the court-ordered community consultation process. Photo credit: NISGUA.

In February 2019, Canadian-owned Pan American Silver, the world's largest silver company acquired control of Minera San Rafael. Through the sale, Pan American became responsible for the Escobal Mine, which has been roundly rejected by local communities and has been the source of violence, criminalization, militarization, and environmental degradation in the Santa Rosa, Jutiapa, and Jalapa regions of eastern Guatemala. Despite threats against them, communities have ensured the mine's suspension since 2017.

During Pan American's first shareholder meeting since acquiring the project, the company's founder/director/chairman of the board, Ross J. Beaty, made it clear that he planned to get the mine running again, despite community resistance, saying "...there's no sensible reason, social, environmental, or political, that Escobal shouldn't be generating $400M per year.” Apparently, Beaty doesn't consider Indigenous territorial control, clean water, or environmental defenders' safety legitimate social, environmental, or political reasons to reconsider the project. 

Pan American has made it clear that they plan to go about business as usual, prioritizing profits over human and environmental well-being. The company has repeatedly interfered in state-run community consultation processes and continues to be a source of violence. We call on you to sign this Earthworks action, joining Xinka and campesino communities in demanding Pan American stop trying to pervert the consultation process through side dialogues, press campaigns, and attempts at community cooptation.

Tell Pan American Silver not to interfere in the consultation process!

In Blow to Justice, Judge Frees 6 Men Accused of Sexual Violence against Maya Achi Woman

This past Friday, a collective of Maya Achi sexual violence survivors gathered in Guatemala City. In the morning, they participated in a ceremony to mark the National Day Against Forced Disappearance. And that afternoon, they went to court to hear Judge Claudette Domínguez's ruling about whether their sexual violence case would proceed forward to the trial phase.

The collective of Maya Achi women participates in a ceremony ahead of the afternoon's hearing, Photo Credit: Impunity Watch.

The judge listed the charges against six former civil defense patrolmen (ex-PACs), who were accused of atrocious, repeated acts of sexual violence against the women. The charges were backed up by more than 200 pieces of evidence, including survivor testimony, eyewitness testimony, expert witnesses, and documentation proving the accused men were ex-PACs. And yet, despite the overwhelming evidence--including, most importantly, the words of the women themselves--Domínguez closed the case against three of the defendants. Domínguez then provisionally suspended the case against the other three, giving the Public Prosecutor a month to produce certain documentation, documentation that does not exist, before ruling whether they would continue to trial. Domínguez ordered the six accused, who live in the same towns as the survivors, released under the condition that they move to another department. She did not order any further protective measures

Through her decision, Domínguez has denied the women their opportunity for justice and reparations, while putting them at physical risk for attack. Lawyers immediately filed an appeal, while various Guatemalan organizations, including the Rabinal Legal Clinic, the AJR, plaintiffs in the CREOMPAZ case (who have also suffered the effects of Domínguez's arbitrary and unjust rulings), as well as the international community publicly expressed their rejection of Domínguez's decision. We call on organizations to sign onto this letter (organized by Guatemala Human Rights Commission with support from NISGUA and Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network) demonstrating solidarity with survivors and their lawyers and demanding justice and security for the women.

Sign onto the Call for Justice for Achi Women

2019 Accompanier Cohort Participates in NISGUA's Organizer Training in Berkeley

We are thrilled to welcome five new accompaniers in this year's accompanier cohort!

From June 16-22, Isa, Michelle, Nicole, Ruby, and Christina joined NISGUA staff for our annual organizer training. The training is an intensive, resourcing space, where new accompaniers discuss struggles for justice in Guatemala, the legacy of U.S. imperialism, racial justice, grassroots fundraising, cross-border organizing opportunities, and more. Photo Credit: NISGUA.

Fugitive Ex-Chief of Operations Under Ríos Montt Captured on Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Charges

On June 16, as Guatemala celebrated national elections, retired general Luis Enrique Mendoza was arrested as he went to cast his ballot. Mendoza, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role as Chief of Operations (S3) under the Ríos Montt military regime, was captured in Baja Verapaz after spending more than seven years as a fugitive from justice.

Mendoza's first appearance in court is currently set for Tuesday, July 2, scheduled to be heard by the same infamously pro-military judge, Claudette Domínguez. However, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) and the Human Rights Legal Clinic (Bufete de Derechos Humanos), the two legal organizations representing the AJR and Maya Ixil genocide survivors, filed a motion to recuse Domínguez, given her many unjust rulings at the expense of conflict victims and survivors.

Read CALDH's Statement on the Mendoza Arrest

NISGUA’s Most Ambitious May Match Campaign Yet Is a Success - Thanks to You!

NISGUA staff and board say a heartfelt thank you to the hundreds of people whose donations allow us to continue our work, decade after decade.

In May, we committed to reaching an ambitious fundraising goal, which a small group of generous donors offered to match: $35,000. With the support of our 24 amazing peer-to-peer fundraisers and the hundred of people who donated, we met our goal in just two weeks!

Thanks to a last minute match gift of $5,000, we raised our goal to $40,000 in the last 12 hours, leading to a grand total of $82,836! 

One of our favorite parts of May Match is hearing why people donate. This year, we've received donations in honor of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen and his family, the women of the Ixcán, Myrna Mack, and so many more. It's a moving reminder of all the people, generations, communities, and struggles that make up our NISGUA collective. It is truly an honor to walk with all of you in this work. Thank you!

Contribute Photos for the 2020 Calendar!

We invite you to submit your photos NISGUA's 2020 calendar, designed to highlight Guatemala’s beauty, identity, and resistance. The calendar theme for 2020 is “Art as Resistance.” As always, we interpret the theme broadly, so feel free to think beyond typical or usual notions of artwork.
Please share your submissions by July 11.

Learn More and Submit Photos Today!

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 advocacy on the long road to justice.
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