Recommendation Letter

Recommendation Letter for Lucia Muñoz and Women Initiating in the Americas, MIA

:: Scroll down for Spanish version ::

I am Professor of Political Science and Director of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York. I have known Lucia Muñoz for a good many years, as we have both been involved in human rights issues and particularly concerned with the situation in Guatemala. Lucia is a woman who bridges two cultures. She operates easily both in the United States, where she grew up, and in Guatemala, where she was born. She is bilingual, and her human rights work has spanned both countries.

I am very familiar with Lucia’s work with the Guatemala Peace and Development Network and with Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas, MIA (Women Initiating in the Americas, MIA), which is associated with the Network. MIA’s goal is to fight abuse and femicide in Guatemala, where violence and impunity are endemic, and to empower women and girls. Lucia is the founder, organizer, administrator, educator, and leader of the organization. She has worked tirelessly to develop MIA, organize educational programs, and put together delegations to visit Guatemala and meet with key government leaders, human rights advocates, and women from the communities. She has worked on a shoestring budget to open new possibilities for change in Guatemala, creating workshops and training sessions in both elementary schools and in university settings, and even in the National Police Academy.

In fact, MIA is on the brink of signing a contract with the National University of San Carlos that will extend MIA’s pilot workshop program to all eighteen campuses of this university in the country. I think it important to explain something about Lucia’s strategy with MIA. Most organizations devoted to advancing women’s rights focus on promoting the development and leadership of women and girls directly, and indeed, MIA does this by training women and girls to strengthen their skills, acquire education, and develop leadership. But MIA also is using a parallel and original approach as well: to educate men and boys about respect for women as individuals, partners, and important members of the community. The logic is that since men and boys commit violence against women, they need to be educated and, hopefully, will come to realize that they have a key role to play in the recognition of women’s rights. Lucia has made extensive efforts to incorporate men as volunteers with MIA as well as to reach out to men in Guatemala through her education programs. MIA has launched La Campaña Hombres Contra Femicidio (Men Against Femicide) and offered workshops to develop the skills of Guatemalan young people, male and female, who will then branch out and work with civil society organizations and schools in the country. While in the United States the approach of working with men might be considered unusual, I find it to be a novel and effective one for the conditions in Guatemala (and for that matter, in the U.S.). Lucia and MIA deserve support and encouragement for tackling the difficult task of confronting machismo and the high levels of violence against women in Guatemala.

MIA carries out other work as well. One of the targets of gang violence in Guatemala has been public buses. Armed gangs board buses and rob the passengers, and often threaten drivers or demand a payoff from them. Numerous bus drivers have been killed. MIA has initiated a program to meet with and support widows of slain bus drivers, and in several cases has provided microcredit to widowed women who want to start their own businesses.

Lucia has also appeared on Guatemalan radio and television, and has given presentations at various venues in Guatemala to spread the word about MIA’s work. She has met with the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Guatemala and has a good relationship with that office. I could go on but I hope that the range and importance of MIA’s work is clear (MIA has an informative website at http://miamericas.info).

On a personal level, Lucia is a cheerful, energetic, dynamic woman who is deeply dedicated and committed to the cause of women’s rights. She has been willing to make personal sacrifices to advance the work in Guatemala, including choosing a personal life of austerity and spending extended time in Guatemala away from her family. Her path has not been easy but it is no exaggeration to say that she is determined and she is visionary.

I strongly recommend Lucia Muñoz’s MIA for funding support. If you would like to further discuss my recommendation please feel free to call or email me. Thank you.

J. Patrice McSherry, Ph.D.

Professor of Political Science and Director of

Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program

Long Island University

1 University Plaza

Brooklyn, NY 11201 – USA

Carta de recomendación para Lucía Muñoz y M.I.A., Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas

Soy profesora de ciencias políticas y directora del Programa de Estudios del Caribe y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Long Island en Brooklyn, New York. Tengo ya varios años de conocer a Lucía ya que ambas hemos estado involucradas en temas de derechos humanos y en particular la situación de Guatemala. Lucía es una mujer que conecta dos culturas. Ella trabaja con mucha facilidad en los Estados Unidos, donde ella creció, y en Guatemala, donde ella nació. Ella es bilingue y su trabajo por los derechos humanos se ha llevado a cabo en ambos países.

Tengo el gusto de estar familiarizada con el trabajo de Lucia con la Red por la Paz y el Desarrollo de Guatemala y M.I.A., Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas, que esta asociada con esa Red. Los objetivos de M.I.A. buscan apoderar a las mujeres y niñas, y erradicar el abuso y feminicidio contra las mujeres en Guatemala, donde la violencia e impunidad son endemicas. Lucia es la fundadora, organizadora, administradora, educadora y lider de la organización. Ella ha trabajado incansablemente para desarrollar MIA, organizar programas educativos y llevar a cabo delegaciones de estudiantes a Guatemala, con los que se reune con importantes personas del gobierno, activistas de derechos humanos y mujeres victimas de violencia.  Todo esto, Lucia lo ha llevado a cabo con un presupuesto muy minimo que limita las oportunidades de cambio para Guatemala. Lucia y M.I.A. han creado talleres educativos para escuelas de primaria, secundaria y nivel universitario, incluyendo la Academia de la Policiía Nacional Civil.

M.I.A. recientemente ha firmado un convenio de cooperación con la Universidad de San Carlos que permite que se pueda extender el programa piloto en todas las facultades y escuelas de esta casa de estudios.

Me parece importante explicar algo acerca de la estrategia de M.I.A. La gran maryoría de organizaciones dedicadas a promover los derechos de las mujeres se enfoncan directamente en el desarrollo y liderazgo de mujeres y niñas, y así como estas, M.I.A. hace esto por medio de capacitar mujeres y niñas para mejorar sus habilidades, recibir educación y desarrollar su liderazgo. Pero M.I.A. también usa una técnica nueva y que va de la mano con todo este trabajo: educar a los niños y hombres sobre el respeto a las mujeres como individuos, como parejas y como miembros importantes de nuestra comunidad. La lógica detrás de este trabajo es que ya que son los hombres y niños los que comete la gran mayoría de actos de violencia contra las mujeres, ellos necesitan ser educados para que, ojalá, se den cuenta de que ellos tienen también un rol importante que jugar para garantizar los derechos de la mujer. Lucía ha hecho esfuerzos importantes para incorporar a hombres como voluntarios de M.I.A., así como acercarse a los hombres en Guatemala por medio de programas educativos.

M.I.A. ha lanzado la Campaña Hombres Contra Femicidio (Men Against Femicide) y ofrece talleres para desarrollar las habilidades de la juventud guatemalteca, hombres y mujeres, que con el tiempo se acercarán a trabajar con organizaciones de la sociedad civil y centros educativos en todo el país.

Mientas en los EE.UU. la técnica de trabajar con hombres puede ser inusual. Yo encuentro esto como una manera novedosa y efectiva para trabajar en las condiciones de Guatemala (y por eso mismo, también para los EE.UU.)

Lucia y M.I.A. merecen todo el apoyo por llevar a cabo la dificil tarea de confrontar el machismo y los altos niveles de violencia contra las mujeres en Guatemala.

M.I.A. también lleva a cabo otras labores. Uno de los objetivos de la violencia de pandillas ha sido los conductors de transporte público. Pandillas con armas de fuego suben a los buses, asaltan a los pasajeros y con frecuencia amenazan al conductor y le piden un impuesto. Muchas veces estos conductors han sido asesinados ahí mismo. M.I.A. ha iniciado un programa para apoyar a las mujeres que han enviudador por el asesinato de sus esposos conductores de buses. Actualmente M.I.A. lleva a cabo un programa piloto de microcreditos a las viudas para que comienzen su propio negocio.

Lucia ha aparecido en programas de radio y television guatemalteca y ha dado presentaciones en varios lugares como universidades en los EE.UU. y Guatemala. También, M.I.A. tiene una excelente relacion professional con la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala. La lista es larga, pero mi interés es que este claro el precedente que el trabajo de M.I.A. marca. Para más información, puede visitar el sitio http://miamericas.info

A nivel personal, Lucia es una persona muy enérgica, dinámica y alegre que esta muy comprometida con la causa de los derechos humanos. Ella ha estado dispuesta a hacer sacrificios personales para poder avanzar el trabajo en Guatemala, incluyendo la decisión de pasar tiempo en Guatemala, lejos de su familia. Este trayecto no ha sido fácil, pero no es una exhageración el afirmar que ella es ta muy segura de lo que hace y cree en su visón progresista.

Yo recomiendo a Lucía Muñoz y M.I.A. para que le apoyen financieramente. Si quiere hablar con más detalle sobre mi recomendación, puede llamarme o escribirme un email.

Gracias por su atención:

J. Patrice McSherry, Ph.D.

Professor of Political Science and Director of Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program

Long Island University 1 University Plaza

Brooklyn, NY 11201- USA

Trip report/MIA pounding the ground in Guatelinda in 2010

Trip report, December 2010

MIA is trying to create a collective conciousness and really make things happen. We are getting no help writing all good news. When other groups send emails asking for money, they also send lots of bad news and people respond to that. I want to send good news in hopes that this will help respond the same way.

Tough sell for people in these times, which is even more of a reason that we need your help. I kid you not MIA is really starting to shake things up in Guatemala.

Five months in Guate and I’ve been working almost the entire five months Monday through Sunday. We have had to make ourselves available at everyone’s schedule to make a presence every where with anyone who called for our workshops.

I want to start with good news and end with what you all know I am leading you toward: a request for your donation. There is no “I have too little to give, it wont make any difference.” Believe me, the way MIA works on a shoe string budget, we go miles with very little money.

I am very proud to say that MIA was able to sign an agreement with the university of San Carlos — almost, anyway — more on this later. San Carlos is the only free (of charge) university, which is still free for now, but threatened everyday to be privatized, and you can guess what that would do to the “free” part. We have been delivering workshops at San Carlos for some time now, but having an agreement will make it solid for the future, and give us some confidence that things will keep happening even when people change jobs. As it has been going, if someone we work with leaves, we have to start all over again with the new people. This agreement should improve that situation.

The agreement is intense. In short we will start delivering programs, as we have been but more. We start at the main campus and extend to — get this! — all EIGHTEEN campuses. The challenge for us is to expand beyond the small pilot program in Guatemala city campus. To expand to the 18 campuses, of course, we will need funding.

Well not entirely for free because we will be delivering programs perhaps two per week plus any extra curricula we may need to support the topic.

There is one very exciting part of this agreement which is way different from the agreement we signed last year with the women’s department and earlier this year with the health department. The new thing is that the Chancellor of the university signed to allow professors to send us students for credit through our workshops. That’s right, students will get credit for participating in a series of ten White Ribbon Campaign (aka Hombres Contra Femenicidio). We will type up a sylubus to add readings to each workshop. In short, MIA will be teaching lecture style not just facilitating.

We were able to work with some healthy young men and tape 3 podcasts in spanish that are available on our web page for anyone who wants to learn via the ‘net. Also, we have officially started the paperwork for MIA to become legal for potential money in Guatemala. The key word there of course is “potential”. If fund raising in the US is hard, fund raising in Guatemala could be lots harder! Norma Cruz (Sobrevivientes) has had some luck with foreign donations to her organization.

MIA will officially have its first satellite to be able to apply for money from the international community. As you all know we are a 501c3 in the U.S. We can no longer continue working from good samaritans since we are all hurting for money. MIA did some knocking on doors to introduce our campaign in the private businesses. Some of these private businesses seemed interested to help, but the fact that MIA lacks legal status yet in Guate made it very easy for them to use that as an excuse to not be able to help.

We were able to meet with the U.K. ambassador but she was very straight forward telling us that they too don’t have money, and if anything they are withdrawing donations to their projects in Guate. She did offer to help us with USAC by providing moral support and that helped pressure USAC to speed up the signing.

The five month in Guate seemed long and hard but we know this is the breakthrough for a smooth ride once we get funding.

We trained 10 facilitators/volunteers 3 women and 7 men who were very busy with us leading workshops in four different schools, the University and at the national Police Academy. They all were students and of

course activists, and they disappeared overnight when the university went on general strike. The university was taken by the students defending their future Alma Mater. We are hoping situations like this will improve when we have a full-time paid staff. But of course that comes down to money.

The university was shut down for a month and a half and this created much stress for MIA to not have facilitators to continue our sites.

An interesting situation developed at the police academy. The ombudsman’s office received complaints about sexual harassment in the academy. We don’t have details about the complaints, but the ombudsman’s office figures that we inspired the women to make the complaints. Our goal of course is to inspire the men to act in a way that nobody has any complaint against them, but the fact that the women felt strong enough to complain has to be a sign of progress.

I did what I could but the ongoing chaos in the country can get in the way. When they returned i had had to shorten our programs because there was no way to know how long the strike was going to take. The only group that we were able to continue was the one in USAC but unfortunatly from 30 students only 3 stayed on board, as we worked to find off-campus locations for the workhshops. Many of the students enrolled had to cram to make up for the time while the university was closed.

I am pleased to say that we finally got into the school system for MIA’s goal is to get into the school curriculum. At first they seemed very interested and then acted very uninterested. They called us, interested again, and we ran faster than a speeding bullet to come in to the schools. Once we started the follow up to our conversations they said thank you, but no thank you. The positive thing i can say about this is that at least now we are in their radar, yayyyy.

MIA networked nonstop and has made stong ties with different organizations for future projects. People are starting to understand that MIA is not funded by uncle sam and or by international community but from people like you who are getting this trip report who has in one or another way commited to not forget our Guatelinda.

I lived in a small room in my friends house my first trip February to May and three more months this second trip. It was time for me to rent us an apartment. We decided to stay in zona 1 to be able to walk to nonprofits in that area, and also z 1 is central to get to different places quick on a taxi.

I’m going back to Guate on January 31st. Am not sure when I’ll be back to the US. It is imperative for me to make a presence to get this program going. We are very lucky that we have a volunteer from India (and the US) who will be volunteering for 6 months and will help me unfold the USAC monster project.

We had a last-minute plan to sign the agreement with USAC on the last day I was there, which was International No Violence Against Women Dan (and also Thanksgiving here in the US). Only weeks after the student strike ended at USAC, the administrative workers’ union went on strike and took over the administration offices. With all the chaos, of course we were not able to go in and sign as planned. I got a call late in the day, when I was on the way to the airport, but knowing how things go there, I didn’t want to miss my flight. I am told that the principal signed already, and I will sign it with the UK ambassador when I return.

This year we were not able to lead any delegations. As you know all of you delegates with your trips allows us to make a little money for MIA’s programs. This year was painful because, not only did we not gather any money from delegations, but also it was the year that I had to spend the most time in Guate.

MIA had it first male voluneer this year. His name is Daniel, and he’s been a HUGE help for MIA since we started. Daniel flew from New York and spent all his vacation time with MIA empowering our young women and men letting them know they are not alone. He shared with them his story as an immigrant before he got his legal papers here and what he will be doing now that he is legal helping MIA help them. Daniel made some strong ties with them and will continue the nurturing from a distance.

Daniel also works with us doing translations; he translated the White Ribbon Campaign materials into Spanish for use in our workshops. In addition he is our webmaster and, really, does anything and everything for MIA. We would be sunk without Daniel’s great behind the scenes work.

MIA is walking the talk., I have no words to express how much we need your help!! In the middle of the chaos in the country we were still able to deliver workshops and get big wigs to want to sign on our mission. I can type for ever how many deaths per day and describe the problem but we all know the evil impunity is the monster. MIA is about solutions and our program is the start of a solution. Please we ask you to help us even if it is only $50.00 or even $5.00, you can count on us to put it in good use.

You can mail us a check, or you can send money on paypal to MIA’s account. Our email ID on paypal is: lucia@miamericas.info. Money you send us will go straight to MIA, and is tax-deductible.

1256 Conway Ave

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

USA

Experimentation

By Lucia Muñoz

M.I.A. | Executive Director and Founder

To call these experiments “a dark chapter in U.S. history” is to pretend that it is over. Today, as the U.S. government mulls indefinitely over granting TPS to Guatemalan citizens while their homeland is besieged by natural disasters, as it continues exploitative economic policies that mine the labor of Guatemalan workers, it reminds us that even today the Guatemalan body and voice are expendable.

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton revealed that 700 Guatemalan citizens, soldiers, prisoners, sex workers, and mentally disabled patients were infected with syphilis and gonnorhea by the United States government between 1946 and 1948.

While MIA understands that neither the current administration, nor the American people are directly responsible for what President Colom has called ‘crimes against humanity’, we feel strongly that this “experimentation” is symptomatic of the arrogance and disregard for the autonomy of others that has characterized not only terrible scientific judgments, but also the U.S.’s diplomatic relations with the nations of Latin America and the Global South.

The metaphor of the octopus, headed by the United Fruit Company with tentacles of power and influence entangling nearly every aspect of the governance and economy of Guatemala, has long been a popular image to describe the nefarious reaches of the United States in this nation. This latest, shocking revelation reminds us that these tentacles were not abstract or white collar machinations, the tentacles invaded the most intimate regions of body and soul. They scratched the cheeks and arms of Guatemalans, broke their skin and forced disease into their veins. These were acts that knowingly abused power and privilege, that victimized the marginalized, that invaded bodies and destroyed lives less precious than those of Americans.

The asymmetry of power and knowledge between the scientists, guardians of wisdom, and representatives of authority, and the “test subjects” selected because their agencies were compromised in the face of such authority by their citizenship and their positions in society, is not confined to experiments, nor to the past.

To call these experiments “a dark chapter in U.S. history” is to pretend that it is over. Today, as the U.S. government mulls indefinitely over granting TPS to Guatemalan citizens while their homeland is besieged by natural disasters, as it continues exploitative economic policies that mine the labor of Guatemalan workers, it reminds us that even today the Guatemalan body and voice are expendable.

The Guatemalan Peace and Development Network has called on the United States to immediately comply with three proposals, to establish a fund of compensations (reparations) to the families of those who were affected by these trials; to immediately grant TPS for Guatemalans in the United States as a show of good will; and to put in place an economic plan comparable to the Marshall Plan, which would allow the countries ravaged by decades of civil wars instigated and funded by successive U.S. administrations to finally and definitively recover from years of economic turmoil.

MIA does not seek to hold individual Americans responsible for decades of exploitation. But it is time the United States take responsibility not only for the individuals harmed by these trials, but by the families, communities, and indeed, nations who live under the shadow of arrogant, self-interested U.S. decisions. It is time for the United States to accept that Guatemalans, regardless of their station in life, are endowed with the same rights and merit the same dignity as any U.S. citizen.

We call on the U.S. government to back up its words of contrition with concrete actions, and to stand with Guatemalans, to show us that a Guatemalan body and a Guatemalan voice are just as precious as any other, to help us turn the dying tentacles which sucked us dry into roots that nurture our growth.

Trip report on establishing the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Program in Guatelinda

Twelve Weeks in Guatemala City

I arrived in Guatemala on Feb 20, and dove straight into starting programs. Was very fortunate to find a a place to live right smack in the middle of the action, zona 1. I am subletting a room at a friends house. I wanted to stay in zona 1 for many reasons. 1st to not have to wake up to traffic every morning to zona 1 where all the networking needs to be done and almost everywhere I need to go to work is within easy walking distance.

In Guate I felt the need to walk with the pueblo and bump into people and talk to them. It was a surreal experience for me. It was almost like going back to the 3 years i lived in Guate as a teenager.

We did two 4 day workshops at USAC. Sadly, during the course of the workshops two of the students were killed while getting snacks near the university. So sad.

We also started our annual programs at the all boy’s school in Zona 8.

You may remember that we did workshops in the PNC academy in 2009. Since then, they had a complete change of leadership both at the academy and in the PNC overall. Thanks to our work nurturing relationships, we were able to get in again this year. This year we are year round. Remember MIA”s goal is to get in the curriculum and this time we actually are in the midst of signing an agreement to be part of the curriculum on an ongoing basis. This is HUGE!!!

The PNC is in the middle of construction, there is a interium director who does not have the power to sign anything, but does have the power to allow us in every other Friday. We go in 5 classes per Friday and each class has between 40 and 60 students. I feel very optimistic that we wil be signing an agreement with the PNC Academy to adopt our campaign. I have been sitting with instructors and all of them want our manuals. It is a matter of time for the academy to have a stable director and then i think we be able to get a contract.

We’re finding that there are plenty of places ready to take us in to give the workshops. The biggest challenge for us is to find funding to make our work happen. I want to share with much pride that we were also able to get in with an agreement adopting our campaign. The department of health at USAC has welcomed us to their programs. I signed the agreement only days before my departure last May 15. This means that every single student that signs up to go to college will have to go through our classroom *as a requirement*. I am so new inside the USAC system that I still dont understand how this is going to unfold, but during my time here i am in constant contact with their personnel that we are are going to plan it out. USAC is the model and when MIA is able to hire permanent staff, we will be moving in to some of the satellites of USAC. We will become a BIG movement within the university.

I’ve also been dealing with the challenges of getting MIA recognized at a nonprofit in Guatemala. The latest was that my name was misspelled on some paperwork and I had to get it corrected and resubmitted, adding two weeks to the process. In addition, I had to get an ID card at the Guatemalan DMV, and in the process learned that my fathers name on my birth certificate was some stranger, a name I’d never heard of before. This opened up an old wound, my not really knowing who my birth father was. During this trip, I also was spending some time tracking down my birth father. Apparently I’m the result of an Immaculate Conception, which sounds better than not knowing who my father is. My blood father, according to the latest story I hear, was a boss in a bus company where my mother’s then-ex-husband worked. My father had been a bus driver and worked his way up to being the boss. Later, he was killed when returning home from work.

Also met with the Association of Widows of the bus drivers killed while working. As you may know, there have been hundreds of bus drivers killed on duty in the last few years. A reporter asked me why I was getting involved with the bus driver widows and I started crying: I realized right then it was through what happened to my blood father that leaves me feeling so closely connected with the widows.

We are working on a program to help the widows get into small businesses by creating micro loans. In a micro loan program, we would sponsor the women to get basic training on how to make a business work, and a small amount of funding, about $100, to get the means to make their business happen. This is the newest cause MIA adopted, and stuggled with it, because we barely have money for the campaign, but to see the widows going in circles trying to help themselves I could not look the other way. When I visited their little whole in the wall there were five women that for some reason I connected stongly and asked if they would be willing to attend a workshop on Sundays at Jenny’s house. They all come from a distance, one comes from a 2 hour and a half distance and tends to be the one who arrives first. They have been meeting for four Sundays in a row except last Sunday because of the Pacaya volcano and Tropical Storm Agatha. Through Jenny we were able to find them counseling for free on Saturdays too. These women have had no time to grieve. They were forced over night to pick up the pieces for their children and have not had the chance to be swallowed by their pain., and allow themselves to grieve.

I want to end with telling you a little about our facilitators. They are six young men who come from different schools within USAC. Two are artists, who are studying to become music teachers. Our longtime friend Randy from Colectivo Rogelia Cruz is going to school to become an archeologist. William is going for a teaching degree, Gary is going for business administration and Derick is about to graduate as a civil engineer. They are all volunteering and we give them a small stipend for their time and expenses. We meet twice a week.

Our chapina volunteer from Canada, Maria Luisa, is working with them while i am here to support the facilitators in their readings on gender issues and to train them to become strong facilitators.

When the academy called me, I was not prepared with facilitators and told the interim director that MIA was ready to go. I walked out of there with Randy who is a long time supporter, and asked him what to do. He said we (volunteer facilitators) have to go forward and MIA has to train us overnight. We started calling people we have worked with in the past and 5 accepted immediately. I feel I have been training a little too rapidly, but I had no choice.

When we met with the academy they wanted to start that same week I said we couldn’t start that quick, but to give us 2 weeks and we would be ready. Never told them it was because we didn’t have workshop facilitators trained yet. It was exciting to make this happen over night. The facilitators are loving the work and the hands-on training / workshops. We all read and discuss the readings. Then, the next day they train to present, and they all facilitate to the rest to make sure they understand the curriculum.

I can go on and on about the facilitators, I am very fond of them. Because we are meeting so often we have become like a family. They look forward eating together while exchanging ideas on how else they can contribute to a Guate without violence and day dreaming when we have an office. We are meeting at my friends house where I sublet a room, but sometimes we can get loud and we don’t want her to kick us out. I am hoping come next year we can get some serious donations and can have an office and employ them full time.

Unfortunately we were not able to get funds from the private company we were hoping from. As a matter of fact, it was them who prompted my trip in February and decided to stay for so long. But it is all good, we were able to network and find us BIG place to work in where we have a captive audience and helps us from running around all over the city. This private company asked that we revisit the project in July., wish us good luck.

Lastly, we were able finally meet with close people to the first lady again. As you may remember, we met with the first lady last July. She delegated the job of assisting us to certain subordinates, then her words were forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. Being there for so long, allowed me to sit on it and finally got a person with the power to remind the first lady to revisit our conversation. I will be meeting soon with someone in a position to make this happen, to discuss the national school system adopting our curriculum. This reconnection with the first lady talk from last July delegation happened thanks to assistance from Norma Cruz. Norma picked up the phone and put us in contact with the right people within the Avocado House (Palacio Nacional).

Helping girls in the path of education is an on going project. Because of limited fundsy we are presently only helping 5 young girls. Please help us help them keep them on track.

And now to end, I want to announce that I will be going back to Guate for at least another 3 months if not more. Maybe till the school year ends., that is in October. Chris and I have been talking for the last two years and finally both us are o.k. with me living long period of times in Guate. He will be visiting me a lot .

Don’t forget that we are a 501(c)(3) non profit, and so all donations are completely tax deductible.

ABOUT THE HOMBRES CONTRA FEMINICIDIO CAMPAIGN

Hombres Contra Feminicidio is an educational campaign in Guatemala which objective is to train teachers, students and people in power on how to prevent and erradicate violence against women. M.I.A. strive  to bring the campaign to teachers nationwide in order to bring the topic into the schools curriculum.

December 2009

Hola everyone,

I am writing to send you a report on our recent trip to my Guatelinda this past November and wish everyone happy holidays too.

We traveled to Guatelinda last month without a delegation. The economy is hitting hard, i got tons of calls of students interested but no money. They were all asking for scholarship. Sadly, I had to accept we would not take a delegation this November. Just as I am accepting we would not have a trip, I get an invitation from Guatemala’s 1st lady to attend the UN campaign launch in Guatemala. We were asked to participate in one of the workshops and of course I accepted to sadly find out that the  people from the United Nations had already planned their own agenda and the people from 1st lady were not able to make it happen. I had everything ready for the workshop and just one day before was told, thank you, but no thank you. It turned out to be that the people from the 1st lady jumped the gun and invited MIA without consulting with the UN people who already had their workshops programmed.

During our week there we used our time wisely and followed up with the  Police Accademy, USAC, and the department of education. As you know, in Guatemala people are fired overnight without explanation and this is what happened with the Police Academy. We had accomplished getting in early this year and then found out that the director who enabled us to get in (a woman) was fired and when we ran to the head of Police who also approved of our work, who also was fired. This set us back to have to start all over again.

Early this year we were able to get in with the help of the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, but this time, so far, we are on our own. Luckily we made strong ties with different people in the Police Academy and with the old Director of Police and other people in different positions. All that goodwill is thanks to the workshop we did, many of the participants were in different positions and are willing to speak up for us if questioned about our trainings. The old director is today in the Vice Ministerio de Gobernacion asked us on this trip to coordinate with the Women Affairs coordinator to schedule an appointment with the new director and that she would back us up with a letter signed by her. We are aiming for late January, early February.

Taking advantage that we will have a trip early next year, we have taken the decision to start the paper work to have a satellite in Guatemala which we hope will allow us to get funds from the U.S. and the 1st lady. The people from the 1st lady asked us to file our paper work and that that is the only way they can help. They explained to us that there are 2 ways to get funds: one is becoming a nonprofit and another is to take advantage that we have a non profit in the US and we would only have to file for the same status in Guate, as a satellite.

We rushed to find an attorney and found out really quick that the attorneys are charging us by what we are wearing. I decided to back off and do my searching thru family and friends and find an attorney we can afford.

In Guatemala you need an attorney for this paperwork. It is not the same like in the U.S. where we did our paperwork ourselves. As we were doing the running around, Chris agreed with my conclusion that the only way we can make this happen is by me staying in Guate for a long period of time. This is something I had been talking about and explaining to him, but he had not undertand till this visit where he was with me in meetings, conferences, transactions and simply visiting.

While visiting a family that we helped here in California (true transnational work) the family invited us for dinner to thank us for the help we gave their daughter. Their daughter is back in Guate with her 2 daughters safe and sound from domestic violence. We had a big role in helping her go back home to Guate and the family has become a BIG ally of MIA in Guate. Through this family we will be talking to a company who may is interested in funding our workshops. Again, they want to speak to us and us only. I wanted to delegate one of our strong volunteers for this  meeting, but they will wait for my visit early next year.

Also we made a new contact with a congresswoman who will coordinate for MIA to speak to all congresswomen and make them aware of our workshops to help lobby for us to get funds. So we visited the chairperson for education in the Green House and she wants us to start delivering workshop early next year. Plus USAC wants me to be present for the kick off of the next semester.

I was bummed all this time that we had not been able to take a delegation, but with all these visits, I felt better and I learned that Sarah at Soka University will be leading a delegation next month, I feel very happy to know that our work has led others to want to bring groups to Guatemala!

Marina Wood, who some of you probably do not think knows any Spanish, was down in Guate for 10 weeks leading 5 different sites in the Hombres Contra Feminicidio campaign. She was a great representative of MIA as were her co facilitators, two of MIA’s star men. Marina has also been blogging about her experience as she learned a lot about living in a “developing” country, doing prevention education, and greatly improving her Spanish. She is back in the US now, but deserves a big pat on the back for all the work she did  in Guate as well as for getting accepted into her dream school, Claremont Graduate University.

The government (first Lady) say they are able to give us money for our program, but they won’t do that until we have a program in place. SO the question is, what comes first, the chicken (program) or the egg (money)? The answer is the chicken. We need some egg money to get things going to the point where the government will be able to get us money for the  program. So we are working on the sources for private funding. As always, if you have ideas for donor/investors in peace, please send them our way.

Best!

Lucia Muñoz