News recap: VICTORY! Four former military officials found guilty in the historic Molina Theissen trial; Host a summertime community screening of 500 YEARS!; Accompanier perspectives on land, genocide, and gentrification in Guatemala and the U.S.; Security measures restored for the Reynoso Pacheco family. This and more in this month’s solidarity update.

Solidarity Update: May 2018
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Each month, we send updates on issues affecting the Guatemalan human rights and environmental defenders we accompany. Under attack for their work against impunity and ongoing state and corporate violence, these activists continue to request international accompaniment as one tool to dissuade threats and expand political space.

Will you continue to support this work? This May, your gift to NISGUA will go twice as far! Thanks to a generous group of donors, all donations made between May 15 - 31 will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $30,000. That means that we have an unprecedented opportunity to raise $60,000.

We are halfway there, but only have a week left to take advantage of this inspiring opportunity. Please join us by making a meaningful gift today.

News from the Grassroots

  • Grassroots Cinema: Host a summertime community screening of 500 YEARS!
  • NISGUA seeks summer volunteers for special projects

Justice & Accountability 

  • VICTORY! Four former military officials found guilty in the historic Molina Theissen trial 
  • Survivors keep the genocide verdict alive, five years later

Defense of Life & Territory

  • Accompanier Perspectives: Land, genocide, and gentrification in Guatemala and the U.S.
  • Thousands take part in the "March for Life"
  • VICTORY! Security measures restored for the Reynoso Pacheco family


Grassroots Cinema: Host a summertime community screening of 500 YEARS!

This summer, join NISGUA activists across the country in advancing conversations about international movements for social and environmental justice! We’re inviting our network to help us grow our capacity for cross-border solidarity by hosting a documentary film screening and discussion in their community. Documentary filmmaker and NISGUA supporter Pamela Yates has generously offered NISGUA to use her latest film, 500 YEARS, as a tool for community education and grassroots action. Join us! Find more information about the film and the campaign here. 

NISGUA seeks summer volunteers for special projects

Are you looking for an opportunity to get more involved with NISGUA’s day-to-day work? We’re currently seeking part-time volunteers to support our staff team on special projects. Read more about volunteer openings in the areas of Media, Outreach, Development, and Database Management. All opportunities require access to a computer and include possibility of remote work.

"We don't want these types of crimes to be repeated, we believe that for there to exist peace in Guatemala, first must exist justice." - Excerpt from the 2013 genocide sentence, pasted on the walls of the House of Memory on May 10, 2018.
Photo: H.I.J.O.S. Guatemala (Twitter)


Victory! Four former military officials found guilty in the historic Molina Theissen trial 

On May 23, the decades-long fight for justice for the 1981 detention and rape of Emma Molina Theissen, and the subsequent forced disappearance of her 14-year-old brother Marco Antonio, resulted in a guilty verdict. Former head of the armed forces Benedicto Lucas García, former intelligence chief Manuel Callejas y Callejas, and local commander Hugo Ramírez Zaldaña Rojas were found guilty of crimes against humanity and aggravated sexual assault. They were sentenced to 58 years in prison each. Former military base commander Francisco Luis Gordillo Martínez was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 33 years in prison. Former colonel Edilberto Letona Linares was absolved of all charges.

In her powerful closing statement, Emma Molina Theissen spoke about the lasting impact the military’s violence had on her family and named the importance of the trial for her family’s healing process and expressed gratitude for the many organizations who accompanied their family. 

Throughout the trial, the Molina Theissen family positioned their fight for justice within a larger context of forced disappearance - a tactic systematically used by the Guatemalan military during the conflict to disappear 45,000 people, including 5,000 children. Powerful demonstrations of solidarity from other survivors included messages of support from the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), while the women of Sepur Zarco, themselves survivors of sexual violence and their family members’ forced disappearance, were present in the courtroom in the final days of the trial.

We lift up the Molina Theissen family for their fierce battle for justice and echo their calls for information about what happened to Marco Antonio. Read more about the verdict here.

Survivors keep the genocide verdict alive, five years later

Five years ago, survivors celebrated as Judge Yazmin Barrios found ex-dictator Efraín Ríos Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. To mark the anniversary, survivors organized with the Association for justice and Reconciliation (AJR), members of H.I.J.O.S., and the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) posted excerpts of the verdict alongside photos of victims on the walls outside the House of Memory, in the center of Guatemala City.

We celebrate the courage and resilience of the witnesses who achieved this precedent-setting legal victory and stand with them as they continue the trial against former head of military intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez. Read NISGUA's latest statement on the death of Ríos Montt and the continued fight for justice.

Thousands take to the streets on April 9 for the "March for Life," in support of the Xinca People's right to self-determination and calls for the permanent closure of Tahoe's Escobal mine.


Accompanier Perspectives: Land, genocide, and gentrification in Guatemala and the US

In her last letter as an accompanier, Clara Lincoln touches on the overlapping themes of state violence against indigenous people and people of color in Guatemala and the US. This violence has been enacted through genocide, sexual violence, and attempts at cultural erasure through the imposition of mega-projects and gentrification models that strip people of their historic homelands. Nonetheless, people in both countries continue to stand resilient through their connection to their identity, their lands, and their community. Read Clara's last letter and other accompanier perspectives here

Thousands take part in the "March for Life" 

On April 9, thousands took to the streets in Guatemala City as part of the “March for Life,” organized by the Xinca Parliament and the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa calling for the permanent closure of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine located in Xinca territory. The Guatemalan courts temporarily suspended the mine over 11 months ago as part of ongoing legal proceedings to determine if the Xinca People’s right to consultation was violated in granting the mining license in 2013. The courts will also determine if the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines discriminated against the Xinca People, who justified their lack of consultation by denying their very existence in the region. The Resistance members are currently awaiting a final decision from the Guatemalan Constitutional Court. For more about the case and the people behind it, read the recent article in the Reno Gazette from Quelvin Jimenez, legal representative for the Xinca Parliament.

VICTORY! Security measures restored for the Reynoso Pacheco family 

Over four years after the murder of their 16-year old daughter and mining resistance organizer, Topacio Reynoso Pacheco, her family continues to receive threats and acts of intimidation. After the Guatemalan Interior Minister abruptly removed personal security measures in August 2017, many of you joined NISGUA on the list of forty-five international and Guatemalan organizations who called for the restoration of these life-saving security measures to the Reynoso Pacheco family. Thanks to the pressure exerted by the Reynoso Pacheco family and allies like you, the family's personal security measures were restored last Sunday.

Alex Reynoso, Topacio’s father and fellow environmental defender, was shot and gravely injured in the same attack that killed Topacio in 2014. One year later, he survived a second armed attack. The Reynoso Pacheco family has joined thousands of other environmental defenders in the region in their opposition to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine and has been instrumental in promoting the involvement of youth activists in the fight to protect the environment.

Last year 2,650 of you demanded accountability for attacks against environmental defenders like Topacio Reynoso Pacheco in Guatemala, and we remain committed to the ongoing fight for justice for Topacio.

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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