Caja Ludica – Rabinal – Workshops

Caja Lúdica

Caja Lúdica

This weekend Simón and I went to Rabinal with José Osorio and other “Lúdicos,” or members of the Caja Lúdica Collective, a non-profit which promotes peace through the exhibition and teaching of artistic activities such as drama, dance, acrobatics and stilt-walking to promote a culture of peace in communities rocked by violence. The group aims to help marginalized youngsters including gang members discover a sense of purpose and worth. This year, 3 “Ludicos” were assassinated with no sign of who killed them and if the deaths were linked. Earlier this week, Lucia, Simón and I met with Jose and other Lúdicos to inform them about whom MIA is and describe “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” and that’s how it was decided that Simón and I would do two workshops in Rabinal this weekend.

The 3 Lúdicos who were killed this year; picture taken at the Caja Lúdica headquarters in Zone 1.

The 3 Lúdicos who were killed this year; picture taken at the Caja Lúdica headquarters in Zone 1.

In the capital, whenever anyone mentions or hears about someone going to Rabinal there’s always this air of importance and a certain level of reverence. On the drive over (we were totally spoiled by Caja Lúdica and riding in a nice, new 4 wheel drive truck) Jose let me know what the big deal was with Rabinal and I was able to understand why Simon had been telling me for so long that we should bring the workshops there. It turns out that Rabinal is a predominantly indigenous area which suffered some of the bloodiest and terrifying massacres during Guatemala’s 36 year civil war. The majority of the residents are Maya Achí and speak Achí as well, which is one of the over 20 Mayan languages in Guatemala. The massacres occurred mainly in 1981-1982, two of the most well known having taken place in the villages of Plan de Sánchez and Río Negro., an amazing English/Spanish blogspot about Guatemala has great recent articles about both massacres which can be found at the above links. To quote

“Beginning halfway through 1981 and throughout 1982, the Guatemalan Army carried out numerous military operations… The objective of these was to eradicate the guerrilla army’s support base in the rural area, which was made up mostly of civilians. Within this context we cite a famous quote from former Chinese Prime Minister Mao Zedong: ‘take away the water from the fish’. Such metaphor implies that the guerrilla forces needed the civilian population just like fish need water… Within this logic, the Guatemalan Army carried out in Rabinal numerous collective killings against a mostly indigenous and unarmed civil population so as to indirectly eliminate the guerrillas.” (8)

The Museum was a room filled with photographs of the dead and disappeared and under each photograph was information on the person’s life and death depending on what is known.

The Museum was a room filled with photographs of the dead and disappeared and under each photograph was information on the person’s life and death depending on what is known.

A close up of one of the photos.  Translation below: Lucia Grave Ramirez: Born on December 13, 1960 in Plan de Sanchez.   She was only 22 years old when they forcibly removed her from her house and tortured and killed her without reason on July 18, 1982.

A close up of one of the photos. Translation below: Lucia Grave Ramirez: Born on December 13, 1960 in Plan de Sanchez. She was only 22 years old when they forcibly removed her from her house and tortured and killed her without reason on July 18, 1982.

Once we arrived to Rabinal (it was about a four hour drive), Jose immediately had to have a full day of meetings at the Centro Cultura Maya Achí, the center that we would be doing the workshops in. Simón and Jose’s partner Violeta and I got dropped at the house that Caja Lúdica has in Rabinal to use when there and we then walked to the Rabinal Achi Community Museum, which helps honors the historical memory of the people who were killed and disappeared in the various massacres and displays the local Maya Achi art, handicrafts, and information on their famous dances.

The museum was hard to look at because I wanted to read all the bios and became quickly overwhelmed by the sadness and injustice of it all.  Reading time after time that farmers and homemakers were killed by machine guns and that countless people were tortured and raped was emotionally draining.

That night I had to mentally prepare for my first workshop where I was half-responsible for the facilitation.  In reality, I have years of experience in this facilitating workshops for the purposes of violence prevention, but this was particularly stressful  because I suddenly had to do it in Spanish, a language I am still trying to become comfortable using.

The next day we did our first workshop and it was scary but successful in that the “students” were engaged and had a lot of ideas about how we can change the gender power dynamic through personal growth and how we run our own households.

Simon and I facilitating. / The students doing a partner-exercise

Simon and I facilitating. / The students doing a partner-exercise

The next day I was a lot less stressed about facilitating in Spanish since I had finally done it for the first time the day before.  This time I felt a lot more comfortable being a bit more spontaneous and the students this time were a little younger, which MIA aims for since “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” is meant to be preventative.

The next day I was a lot less stressed about facilitating in Spanish since I had finally done it for the first time the day before. This time I felt a lot more comfortable being a bit more spontaneous and the students this time were a little younger, which MIA aims for since “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” is meant to be preventative.

The board after one of our exercises

The board after one of our exercises

Watching the film “The Impossible Dream”

Watching the film “The Impossible Dream”

Today, Sunday, August 23 was our second and last workshop and afterward we took the long ride home. Tomorrow Lucia and I are going to the University Radio Station in the morning because she has another interview about the campaign.

Violan a cuatro mujeres nicas en Guatemala

AFP.- Doce nicaragüenses que viajaban en autobús en Guatemala en dirección a México fueron asaltados y cuatro mujeres del grupo fueron violadas, denunció este viernes el embajador de Nicaragua, Silvio Mora.

“El hecho ocurrió el martes pasado a eso de las siete de la noche, en jurisdicción de Mazatenango (sur de Guatemala), cuando el bus en que viajaban fue interceptado por hombres armados”, dijo el diplomático nicaragüense al diario Siglo Veintiuno.

De acuerdo con Mora, los delincuentes abusaron sexualmente de las cuatro mujeres y robaron dinero, computadoras y otros artículos de los nicaragüenses, quienes viajaban a México para participar en un foro.

Embajador Horrorizado

“Hay cosas que espantan, que dan miedo. Quisiéramos que esta nueva agresión no quede entre el 98 por ciento de los casos olvidados o sin investigar, como se encuentra hasta ahora la masacre de 16 personas en noviembre pasado”, destacó Mora.

En esa ocasión, 16 pasajeros de un autobús, 15 nicaragüenses y un holandés, fueron asesinados en Guatemala. Según un documento del Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses, las víctimas se encontraban totalmente calcinadas.

Tras el asalto del martes, los nicaragüenses fueron auxiliados por unos activistas de izquierda guatemaltecos, quienes les ayudaron a continuar el viaje hacia México.

MIA en la USAC – Part 4

Today was our first day of the 4 week certificate program at the “U,” which is what everyone calls the University of San Carlos (USAC).  Lucia and Carlos Ibañez, a fantastically brilliant professional facilitator who specializes in HIV, immigration, human trafficking, gay and women’s issues, co-facilitated this first session for approximately 50 college students and community members who wanted to attend.  Everyone was able to contribute and there was a great male turnout.  The session was four hours long, so there was ample time for the pupils to think below the surface about why things are the way they are and how there are very different social expectations of women and men.  The students were very bright and the session was interactive, lively, and passionate.

Carlos Ibañez

Carlos Ibañez

A lively student

A lively student

After this workshop we were invited to speak in for the class of Dr. Carlos Aldana Mendoza who is a big name in the Guatemala’s human rights movement of the 70’s/80’s and even eventually became the Vice Minister of Education at one point but ended up resigning.  Now he is the Jefe Division de Educacion at USAC and is teaching there as well.  Because Dr. Aldana Mendoza asked us to come to his class, we respectfully obliged and Lucia and Carlos facilitated an abridged workshop.

The gender dichotomy the class created

Lucia and Dr. Carlos Aldana Mendoza

The students

The students

  The gender dichotomy the class created

The gender dichotomy the class created

– Marina Wood is a recent graduate of the Women’s Studies program at Cal State University Long Beach. She has been volunteering with MIA since 2007 and is interning in Guatemala as a facilitator for the “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” campaign for 10 weeks. Marina has been involved in the struggle to end oppressions since her first protest in 2002 against the Afghanistan War and plans to continue learning, educating, and fighting for human rights until the violence stops. The issues closest to her heart are sexual assault and femicide prevention and amnesty for migrant persons in the U.S.

MIA en la USAC – Part 3

08.19.09. Wednesday

We began today by visiting la Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta Santa Barbara in Zone 18, a private school in the Colonia Santa Barbara which has been the pilot school for “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” since May 2008. We were happy to begin in Zone 18 because it is the “red zone.” Though it is named red to signify blood, for me it was hard not to make a mental connection to the red river that flowed right beneath the hill we stood on.

Polluted river

Polluted river

Lucia met Zully Soberalis, the director of the school in a march in Guatemala City for International Women’s Day in March 2008. When Zully heard about the campaign that MIA was launching, she said she wanted her school to be the first for “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” because she has personally experienced gender violence and knows that it is not uncommon in the households of her students. So MIA brought in seasoned activist and good friend Julio Revolorio to facilitate the campaign just two months later, and since May 2008 there have been weekly gender workshops. I was able to see Julio in action last July 2008 during a delegation with MIA and the kids just adored him. They had organized little skits to perform for us and their sense of gender inequality was developed for their ages.

The female students on “strike” last July 2008 during a skit

The female students on “strike” last July 2008 during a skit

Now, a year later, there is a different male facilitator, Edgar Avalos, and Simon and I got to watch Edgar and Lucia co-facilitate 5 periods of classes.

It was a strange experience because the classes were full to capacity (about 30 per class, but the room was small) and there were no ceilings, just the four walls and the roof.

Lucia and Edgar co-facilitating

Lucia and Edgar co-facilitating

We could hear everything that was happening in the rooms around us and it was incredibly easy for the students to tune out or talk amongst themselves because of all the noise/chaos. Also, I noticed that on the walls there were some projects about values. They were poster boards which said what people should not do and had newspaper clippings as examples of murder, theft and even “the risks of oral sex.” Keep in mind, this is an elementary school. Under the article about oral sex the student wrote the “definition” of adultery: “married women don’t have to go off with various men.” This poster received 100%.

Adulterio "definition"

Adulterio "definition"

This is what we’re up against. Here we are trying to transform students in a school that gives an A-plus to woman-blaming, incorrect information in a town where violence is normalized. Add to that that we are in a country where the front page of every paper is plastered with a murder scene and every centerfold boasts a female model in a bikini. It reminds me of the idea of how horror films show a scantily clad woman doing something sexy, thus arousing the male audience, right before slashing her to bits, thus sexualizing the violence. However, in this case, the newspaper desensitizes the reader with horrific murder scenes and then shows scantily clad women, thus creating a correlation between the two-and desensitization to the women as well. And the papers say that the women who were killed somehow asked for it based on what they were doing, where they were going, or what they were wearing. This shameless victim-blaming and lack of respect for female life is feminicide.

Today’s Paper

Today’s Paper

In the classroom Lucia and Edgar were able to deal with these ingrained ideas about women-as-victims, and the public/private gender binary in an age-appropriate manner. The students were asked what safety precautions girls needed to take when walking on the street and there were several that were automatic: don’t dress “indecently”, don’t walk alone, don’t walk at night, don’t talk to strangers, ask God for safekeeping before leaving, and on and on. Next it was the boys turn. “We don’t need to take precautions” they proudly stated. This brought up a lively conversation about socially constructed gender roles, the fallacy of the idea of men-as-indestructible, and the inevitable “which gender is really stronger” debate, which all ended with expanded minds and hopefully, further thought on these matters.

Lucia Muñoz facilitating

Lucia Muñoz facilitating

Lucia Muñoz facilitating

Lucia Muñoz facilitating

It felt good to see the children learn and interact and I am hopeful that they will grow up thinking differently about gender and violence, but it was also sad to see how unprepared these same students will most likely be for future academics based on their chaotic learning environment and the impoverished colonia that they are currently in.

– Marina Wood is a recent graduate of the Women’s Studies program at Cal State University Long Beach. She has been volunteering with MIA since 2007 and is interning in Guatemala as a facilitator for the “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” campaign for 10 weeks. Marina has been involved in the struggle to end oppressions since her first protest in 2002 against the Afghanistan War and plans to continue learning, educating, and fighting for human rights until the violence stops. The issues closest to her heart are sexual assault and femicide prevention and amnesty for migrant persons in the U.S.

MIA en la USAC – Part 2

Today Lucia began her day by meeting with an official named Marlene Blanco at the National Police Department who she met on a previous delegation and managed to make a plan to begin facilitating the program for the whole police academy! Marlene used to be the head of the police department and was recently reassigned to head of community outreach. It’s not clear why this change happened, but we hope to continue our positive working relationship with her. In her new position she is still fighting to help us reach our goal of making the Hombres Contra Feminicidio program a requirement for the academy.

Lucia Muñoz and Marlene Blanco

Lucia Muñoz and Marlene Blanco

Later, Lucia and I went to the Ministry of Education (Mineduc) which is in Zone 10 and spoke with their director in the hopes that we would be able to put the program in the national curriculum. Lucia had attempted to meet with them on previous delegations, but was given the run-around. However, she then met the first lady of Guatemala, Sandra Torres Casanova de Colom, who liked the program and was able to open that door for MIA. This time Mineduc was much more attentive to us, but basically said that the current school curriculum already has what we are trying to include. This put Lucia and me in a tight spot because in order to explain what we were really trying to do (which is promote equality and the empowerment of women, make clear the difference between sex and gender, and make men responsible for their actions as well as call for them to actively participate in the movement against gender violence) we might appear too radical. Instead Lucia opted to take home the current curriculum in order to identify how to frame what we have as something they are clearly lacking.

Ministry of Education

Ministry of Education

“Hombres Contra Feminicidio” as a campaign may sound like something that everyone can agree with, but the concepts that we are teaching are a threat to people who do not want women’s equality and do not agree with changing the “traditional” gendered spheres and roles. Feminicidio (feminicide), to my understanding is the same thing as femicidio (femicide) which is the killing of women for being women, but with the added element of impunity which also exists for gendered reasons. The program is an adaptation of the White Ribbon Campaign, a program which began in Canada in 1991 due to a massacre of women at the hands of a man at the École Polytechnique college in 1989. After speaking with the director of Mineduc and receiving the curriculum, she referred us to the director of a program for family education and community strengthening through education about things such as health, hygiene, and family values. The head of this program, Dirección General de Fortalecimiento de la Comunidad Educativa (DIGEFOCE), was much more receptive to our proposed program and agreed to meet again to discuss working together.

We spoke to the students in the computer lab so we could utilize the projector for the film

We spoke to the students in the computer lab so we could utilize the projector for the film

We left happily and were off to the night school that CalDH helped us get into, Instituto Central Para Varones. This school is important because its students played a huge role in the student movement during the 36 year internal conflict. Although we are going to this historic school, we are actually presenting to the students who come at night when the school is called Instituto Normal Mixto Nocturno. At night, the school is gender integrated and very diverse because many of the students who attend do so because they have to work in the daytime.

Lucia presenting MIA and MIA’s Campaign, “Hombres Contra Feminicidio”

Lucia presenting MIA and MIA’s Campaign, “Hombres Contra Feminicidio”

Lucia and Simon introduced the program to the students and showed a short film about women’s vs. men’s work to make clear that women do a disproportionate amount of work. The students were very curious and interested in the ideas we were presenting. Their ages ranged from 15 to about 45, so there was a wide range of points of view and ideas about gender based on personal experience.

Tomorrow is an early day; we are meeting at 5:30am to head over to Zone 18 to do workshops for the students at la Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta Santa Barbara. For me, seeing the young kids “getting gender” is the most fun because I picture them growing up knowing that women and men are equally deserving of rights. What a beautiful thought.

– Marina Wood is a recent graduate of the Women’s Studies program at Cal State University Long Beach. She has been volunteering with MIA since 2007 and is interning in Guatemala as a facilitator for the “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” campaign for 10 weeks. Marina has been involved in the struggle to end oppressions since her first protest in 2002 against the Afghanistan War and plans to continue learning, educating, and fighting for human rights until the violence stops. The issues closest to her heart are sexual assault and femicide prevention and amnesty for migrant persons in the U.S.

Estados Unidos: Condenan a cinco personas por prostituir a guatemaltecas

Redacción La Hora |

Una corte de Los Ángeles, California, en Estados Unidos, condenó a cinco personas por haber obligado a la prostitución a varias mujeres, entre las que sobresalen algunas guatemaltecas.

Gladys Vásquez Valenzuela fue señalada de liderar una banda de traficantes de personas y trata de mujeres. Ella recibió la condena de 40 años de cárcel. Su hermana y sus dos sobrinas, recibieron también 30 años de prisión, así como el novio de una de éstas, quien purgará 35 inviernos, por su vinculación a esta banda.

Según la resolución, esta banda tenía la estrategia de atraer con engaños a guatemaltecas, quienes recibían el ofrecimiento de trabajo y cumplir el sueño americano en los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, lejos de posicionarlas en un empleo, las obligaban a prostituirse.

La condena fue la sumatoria de delitos, como la asociación delictuosa y tráfico de personas por medios violentos y fraude. Según el testimonio de las guatemaltecas afectadas, eran obligadas a prostituirse; algunas llegaron al extremo de tener sexo hasta con 30 hombres al día.

En febrero pasado habían sido encontradas culpables, pero tras el tiempo de las apelaciones, se dictaminó ayer la condena de más de tres décadas, al menos. Según testigos del juicio, ninguno de los hoy sentenciados mostraron señales de arrepentimiento.

MIA en la USAC – Part 1

MIA implementa la campaña Hombres Contra el Feminicidio en Guatemala.

MIA implementa la campaña Hombres Contra el Feminicidio en Guatemala.

Yesterday afternoon I flew into Guatemala City with Lucia Muñoz, founder and director of Mujeres Iniciando en las Americas (MIA), and this morning Lucia, myself, and Simon Pedroza, an amazing poet-friend and my co-facilitator for “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” (Men Against Feminicide) were off to meet with the women’s institute, Instituto Universitario de la Mujer (IUMUSAC) of the (only) public university in Guatemala, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala or USAC.

The university is in Zone 12 but the institute is all the way in zone 1 which is about an hour and a half away by bus. We spoke with Miriam Maldonado, the head of IUMUSAC, about the certificate program we are launching on Thursday at the college and then Lucia gave a short phone interview for the university radio station’s radio show “Voces de Mujeres” about the campaign. The program will be four 3-hour interactive workshops co-facilitated by an amazing activist/facilitator named Carlos Ibañez and Lucia while she is here and me when she flies back on August 29. The students who graduate the program will not only obtain a certificate, but can be recruited to work as facilitators for MIA. Since Lucia will only be here for two of the sessions, I will be keeping an eye out for students who seem like they are trustworthy, comprehend gender oppression, and demonstrate leadership abilities.

vidaAfter meeting with IUMUSAC we ran all around and ended up at Centro de Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos or CALDH, a super cool human rights org that we were able to hook up with through Simon. (The above picture is a poster they gave us) We explained our program to them and expressed interest in facilitating for groups of young people and they suggested we go to a night school for kids who have to work in the day. This sounded amazing to us and we said we would love to. They said though they are a separate institution they would be happy to refer us. We were ecstatic and arranged to meet them the following evening.

– Marina Wood is a recent graduate of the Women’s Studies program at Cal State University Long Beach. She has been volunteering with MIA since 2007 and is interning in Guatemala as a facilitator for the “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” campaign for 10 weeks. Marina has been involved in the struggle to end oppressions since her first protest in 2002 against the Afghanistan War and plans to continue learning, educating, and fighting for human rights until the violence stops. The issues closest to her heart are sexual assault and femicide prevention and amnesty for migrant persons in the U.S.

Canary Institute Guatemalan News Summary ~ July 29 – August 4, 2009

Compiled by Patricia Anderson and Santos Tale Tax


The two initial bills were presented to Congress last week by the Guatemalan Migrant Commission. The bills seek to reform the Law of Migration and create a new decentralized entity to oversee migration: the Guatemalan Institute of Migration (IGM). The proposed IGM would have its own director and resources which would be dedicated to better controlling entrances and exits out of Guatemala. The bills also include an initiative that would create electronic visas for foreigners entering the country. These bills are separate from the one that was presented last week by the National Board of Migration which focused more on the protection migrant rights.

The airport is currently undergoing massive remodeling set to be completed within two years. Included in the plans is a special area for receiving Guatemalans who have been deported from the United States.

15,570 Guatemalans have been deported from the United States this year. Most of the deportees come from the departments of San Marcos, Huehuetenango and Retalhulea.

One Guatemalan citizen along with 96 Mexican citizens were detained in the United States after being found in a freight truck in Arizona. The group was traveling among crates of fruit being transported at 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The group was largely comprised of women and children ages 9-12.

In response to North American bishops decision to call on President Obama for migration reform, Central American bishops gathered last week to make the same call to the US president in the form of letters and calls to their parishioners on both sides of the border.

In an effort to tighten security along the Mexico-Guatemala border, stricter documentation requirements are being asked of Guatemalan citizens. Rather than using local passes, as border residents were allowed before, citizens residing in border departments are required to apply for a formal migration visa. All other Guatemalan residents must have their passport. These new requirements have hurt Chiapas economy as tourism from Guatemala has been down substantially since the requirements were enacted.


Thirty one new cases of H1N1 (gripe A) were identified last week, bringing the national H1N1 count to 528 cases. The death of a one year old boy brings the flu’s death toll to 10. There are now 30,000 doses of Tamiflu in the country, though the Ministry of Health has declined to comment on the possibility of a much larger outbreak, as there has been in the countries Mexico and El Salvador.


Regional commerce has fallen 17 percent since the Honduran coup. Part of this drop has been attributed to the difficultly trucks have had crossing the Honduran border. But the European Union has announced that it will restart commerce with Central America, minus Honduras, in September.

Climate Change

El Niño has begun to form over the Pacific Ocean. The weather phenomenon is expected to bring storms, floods and drought. The upside of El Niño is that its presence lowers the frequency of hurricanes, say experts. The effects of El Niño will likely not been seen until late October. Agricultural production will be severely affected by the droughts and floods produced by El Niño.

Community Consultation

The population of Churrancho in the department Guatemala voted 87.2 percent against the construction of a hydroelectric dam in a nearby river. Residents believe the dam will negatively impact their community and leave them with no water. Generdora Nacional, the owner of the proposed dam, complains that they were notified only two weeks before that the consult was going to take place. Generador Nacional already has the permission of the Ministry of Environment to construct the dam as the company has already turned in its required environmental impact study.

Food and Nutrition

The Canadian activist group Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) warns that Guatemala and other countries like it are in danger of losing their native corn plants to genetically-modified super breeds. Guatemala has come under a lot of pressure to completely switch to genetically-modified seed since the largest seed was bought out by transnational company Monsanto’s Seed last year. ETC says genetically-altered crops and use of petrochemicals is a false solution to the food shortages caused by global warming. Agroindustry consumes 14 percent of the world’s fuel consumption, the same amount as cars and other forms transportation.


The Ministry of the Environment prohibited the mining company Montana Exploradora from importing cyanide as it has failed to pay proper import taxes for the last two years. Montana has been paying 3 Quetzales per kilogram where the tax is at 5 Q/kg. The Ministry has banned Montana from importing the chemical until it pays the difference. A Montana spokesperson has said that the company is preparing its lawyers for legal countermeasures.

Montana Exploradora S.A. Guatemala is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GoldCorp, a Canadian company that mines precious metals. Montana currently has several projects active in the Western highlands of Guatemala. It’s most notorious project is the Marlin mine in the department San Marcos. The Marlin mine has been opposed by local communities since its inception in 2005. Several community members have been jailed and threatened over the course of the mine’s operation and several protests of the mine have turn brutally violent. Montana is currently the largest bidder for exploration licenses in another region of San Marcos, which has sparked protests, marches and roadblocks nationwide.

The Pastoral Commission of Peace and Ecology (Copae) of the Catholic diocese of San Macos recently undertook a study of five rivers around the Marlin Mine. Copea, using its own equipment and laboratory, found large concentrations of metals near mining disposal sites.

The Mining Guild denounced Copea’s methods unscientific and declared its finding unreliable. Montana Exploradora assured the press the rivers near Marlin mine are not contaminated.

Bishop Álvaro Ramazzini of San Marcos diocese said he hopes the study serves an alert to environmental authorities and that it moves authorities to conduct more extensive environmental impact studies. Bishop Ramazzini has spoken out against the mine both from the pulpit and in public forums since the mine’s beginning, for which he has received death threats and law suits for ‘provoking violence among peasants toward mining activity.’

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Pronunciamiento Tercer Encuentro de Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas

— Pronunciamiento Público —

Tercer Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas

Por los Derechos Individuales y Colectivos de las Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas”

En la actual coyuntura política y crisis económica nacional e internacional, las mujeres indígenas ante el desafío de fortalecer nuestra participación organizada y avanzar por mejorar nuestras condiciones de vida, desarrollamos el “Tercer Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas” para iniciar un proceso de monitoreo y auditoría social de la implementació n de la Agenda Articulada de Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas en los diferentes planes, programas y política que impulsa el Estado guatemalteco.

El cual partió del foro público denominado “Políticas Públicas y Mujeres Indígenas”, además fue la base del análisis y discusión que las participantes, provenientes de diferentes comunidades lingüísticas quienes en seis mesas de trabajo compartieron con representantes de instituciones gubernamentales, responsables de ejecutar e implementar políticas públicas para toda la población respetando sus diversas identidades culturales, sociales, políticas y económicas.

De acuerdo a los resultados de las mesas de trabajo demandamos lo siguiente:


• Inclusión del enfoque de mujeres indígenas en todos los procesos de desarrollo y ejecución de las políticas públicas.

• Garantizar la permanencia de funcionarias y funcionarios públicos en las instituciones gubernamentales para el seguimiento de los procesos y propuestas impulsados a favor de los pueblos y mujeres indígenas.

• Socialización de la Agenda Articulada de las Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas, de la Política Nacional para la Convivencia y erradicación de la discriminació n racial y de la Política Nacional de Promoción y Desarrollo Integral de las Mujeres 2008-2023.

• Desarrollar campañas de sensibilizació n a hombres y mujeres sobre los derechos de las mujeres y derechos específicos y colectivos de las mujeres indígenas.

• Coordinaciones con funcionarias y funcionarios mayas para asegurar la implementació n de los contenidos de la agenda articulada de Coordinaciones con funcionarias mayas para los seguimientos de la implementació n

Acceso a la justicia:

• Acceso y cobertura en territorios con mayor población maya, garifunas y xinka del sistema de justicia.

• Uso y respeto de los idiomas y prácticas culturales mayas, garifunas y Xinkas en los procesos y estructuras del Organismo Judicial.

• Fortalecer y desarrollar campañas que fomente la cultura de denuncia.

• Procesos de sensibilizació n a los operadores de justicia para una mejor atención.

Abordaje del racismo y violencia contra la mujer:

• Participación de mujeres indígenas en procesos de elaboración de las políticas públicas para garantizar acciones especificas que erradiquen racismo y violencia contra las mujeres.

• Impulsar los marcos legales y mecanismos institucionales para la erradicación de todas las formas de violencia y racismo en contra de las mujeres indígenas.

• Coordinación de acciones entre la CODISRA y SEPREM para la implementació n de la Política Nacional para la convivencia y erradicación de la discriminació n racial, tomando en cuenta los ejes comunes.

Participación política:

• Las Coordinadoras de las Oficinas Municipal de la Mujer sean propuestas por las organizaciones de Mujeres.

• Garantizar la participación de las mujeres indígenas en los Consejos Departamentales de Desarrollo.

• Creación del Instituto Autónomo de Formación Política para Mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas tomando en cuenta la cosmovisión de cada pueblo.

• Que el Programa Mi Familia Progresa llegue a las familias que realmente lo necesitan

• Seguimiento a la propuesta de Reforma a la Ley Electoral y de Partidos Políticos considerando la situación política y económica de los pueblos y mujeres indígenas.

Economía, trabajo y migración:

• Priorizar programas y proyectos que respondan a las realidades económicas de las mujeres indígenas.

• Garantizar la seguridad ciudadana de las mujeres a nivel local, departamental y nacional.

• Asignación de presupuesto a las Oficinas Municipal de Mujer para la ejecución de propuestas y proyectos productivos que beneficien a las mujeres indígenas.

• Coordinaciones con AAGAI Y ANAM para el acompañamiento e implementació n de las reformas legales que beneficien a las Oficinas Municipal de la Mujer.

Salud integral desde la identidad cultural:

• Respeto y aplicación de los conocimientos y saberes de los pueblos indígenas.

• Sensibilizació n a los funcionarios de salud para la aplicación de las prácticas de los pueblos indígenas.

• Conformar una comisión ante la OPS y Organismos Internacionales para monitorear a los agentes de salud, para tomar en cuenta las propuestas de las organizaciones de mujeres indígenas.

• Promover la consulta para la conformación de los equipos de trabajos.

• Reconocer el trabajo de las comadronas en el sistema de salud desde sus conocimientos y saberes.

Tierra, territorio, vivienda y recursos naturales:

• Que se asignen presupuestos específicos para el seguimiento de procesos relacionados a pueblos y mujeres indígenas.

• Socialización e implementació n de los contenidos de las Coordinaciones con funcionarias mayas para los seguimientos de la implementació n.

• Unificación de acciones gubernamentales para evitar la duplicación y dispersión de planes, programas y recursos.

Por ello demandamos y exigimos a las autoridades de los tres organismos del Estado, responder y atender los aspectos específicos y vulnerables para la defensa y promoción de los derechos individuales y colectivos de los Pueblos y las mujeres Mayas, Garifunas y Xinkas.

Iximulew Kab’lajuj Aj – Guatemala, agosto 12 de agosto de 2009.

Guatemala Write-Up: Aug. 14, 2009

Marina Wood

Though I have had Guatemalan friends in the past, it wasn’t until I befriended my coworker Farah that I became interested in going there. She spoke of her country with such fondness and at the same time criticized our activism and our social movements here in the U.S. as compared to in Guatemala. According to her, it was life and death, and people were fighting for human rights every day. Here in the U.S. she said that people might go to a protest every once in a while, but it wasn’t direct. I was intrigued. I couldn’t imagine what she was saying and just kept impressing upon her that she just needed to get more involved, that the immigrant’s rights movements were strong. At this time we were in the midst of the walk-outs and attended the Great American Boycott together on May 1, 2006 and a counter protest of the Minute Men in Hollywood. She was unimpressed. Then I took her to see one of my favorite political scientists at a KPFK event in LA and we got to meet Michael Parenti!! I was incredibly excited. When I found her outside afterward she said she met a woman from Guatemala who is working to end femicide there.

“What? What’s going on in Guatemala?”

“Well they’re killing people, but not just women. But she wanted me to work with her, she’s in Orange County and she’s the only one doing this kind of thing here.”

I was overjoyed. Finally Farah had found something she could be involved in! But then she lost her information and was all depressed over it. That November Farah and I visited her country for the Day of the Dead and as we left the airport with her uncle and cousin, my first impression was complicated. Farah was describing “el reloj de flores,” a grass & flower clock on an island in the street we were taking to leave the city. She said it is the only thing like it in Central America. But simultaneously I was noticing that all the cars were old, and that thick black smoke was emitting from them. I asked Farah’s uncle if there were emissions regulations and he said that there aren’t anymore because there were too many cars that didn’t meet them so it wasn’t an economically sound idea. My brain grew a little as I listened to his answer and contemplated how environmental regulations affect the poor so differently.

We went to Farah’s friend’s house and dropped off our luggage so we could backpack in Sampango for El Dia de los Muertos since it is up a very steep hill. Once there, I saw the most beautiful cemetery. As a lover and frequenter of cemeteries, I was pleased to see that this cemetery was incredibly colorful. The locals were placing food, alcohol and flowers on the graves; they were large crosses with the deceased’s name and year of birth/death and a person-size pile of dirt sticking out of the ground. All over, people were flying roundish paper kites and there were also huge ones that were stationary and you could walk up and see the pictures on them. It was beautiful. The women were wearing vibrant huipiles tucked into long skirts and the men were colorful too, but in pants. The women had ribbon-cloth braided into their hair and pinned atop their heads. When we left, Farah used the “sanitario” on the street. It cost money and had a sign that said “pee only” because there wasn’t water. Now, a lot more happened, but suffice it to say that we saw the beautiful lake Atitlan, went shopping, partied in Antigua, pre-screened a documentary on reformed gang members-turned activist clowns/street performers and spent a day in the jungle before returning home.

A few months later I come across an article about the Guatemalan femicide co-written by a Guatemalan woman named Lucia Munoz and Michael Parenti! I knew it had to be her and contacted her to meet us. Since I was taking a Women and Violence class at Long Beach State I decided I might as well hook up and interview her as well for a project I was working on and we went to her house. Once there, Lucia showed us a BBC documentary called Killers Paradise and I was horrified at the amount of impunity in Guatemala and the high rate of incredibly torturous rape-murder-dismemberment cases. Lucia then described how her non-profit, Mujeres Iniciando en las Americas (MIA) helps by funding and supporting non-profits in Guatemala, described her delegations, the first of which she just returned from, and her baby project, what she called the “men’s movement” that she would soon be implementing in a private school there. I was hooked. After the meeting I asked Farah if she was so excited and she said she didn’t have much time, but that it was a good cause and she would help translate. But I knew that I needed to work with Lucia more and from then on found ways to incorporate her cause into my school papers and eventually brought her to school a few times, and went on the summer delegation that next July.

The delegation was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Afterward, I came home traumatized but also longed for what we had there. Farah was right about the movement being different-I was amazed at its vitality and size. Lucia was connected to the most cutting-edge and also the most historically revered leaders and groups that were working for social change and I felt so privileged to meet them and hear what they had to say. We met with between 3 and 5 groups or individuals every day. Some people provided historical accounts of pre-war, wartime, and post-war conditions, some people invited us into their homes and spoke to us about the daughters they lost, many showed us what they are working on which ranged from documentaries about the social movements there and the hidden genocide of indigenous people during the 36 year civil war to news articles for a feminist newspaper to skill-sharing workshops for sex workers. Almost every group we met with used activism as tactics to make change: some used hunger strikes, kiss-ins (the lesbian group), graffiti art, and marches. We also went to the US Embassy and met with a Congresswoman and some leaders of the leftist party that grew out of the movement during the war and had a chance to bring the messages from the people to the decision-makers. This process was a bit tedious and frustrating but incredibly important.

During the delegation we also had a chance to bond with some of the college students at Guatemala’s only public university and with our translator, a veteran activist named Julio who also was the facilitator for the “men’s movement” Lucia had told me about previously. He ran workshops in a couple of private schools on gender equity. The program was called “Hombres Contra Feminicidio.” Along the way we were able to see the poor living conditions of the people, and since our hotel was in a zone where you don’t want to go outside after dark, we saw what the streets felt like in the day and at night for the people of Guatemala City. There were sex workers on the corners, drunks in the alleys and excrement and urine on the streets. The plumbing there is a nightmare: you can’t flush toilet paper and in many places, you can’t flush anything. It’s no wonder that many people don’t bother looking for an indoor restroom. Also, like I noticed on my first trip, the cars and buses emit heavy black smoke which would make my eyes tear up since I wear contacts. But at the same time, when we would go to the mountains, the air would be fresher, and there was more plant life, and animals, and the indigenous people weren’t only the maids and tortilla makers but fulfilled every role because the mountains are where their communities are. And that was nice. Except that on every corner there were churches blaring protestant sermons, competing for members, and the public schools were too far to send the children to so they either didn’t go or had to pay for books, tuition, and uniforms plus transportation to a private one. It seemed like everywhere you looked, life was bitter-sweet.

When I came home, my brain was filled with experiences and memories and stories, and my life suddenly seemed so small and my activism so trivial in comparison. I brooded for awhile and wrote to my new friends and debriefed with my friend from college that came with me and finally decided that I wanted to go again. Needed to. My friend agreed to go again as well, partially to understand better because so much happened so fast and neither of us were quite fluent in Spanish, and partially because we were hooked on the movement and the urgency of it all. So we did it all again and this time I was certain I would come back feeling like that was my last trip and I saw everything and learned everything and experienced everything as well I wanted and could go home fulfilled. This trip was different in many ways, we saw different people and we even got to participate in a huge march against violence against women to the Presidential Palace, but the feeling was the same: we were there as learners not as teachers and we were plugged into the movement, same as before. When I came home again however, I again felt pulled back to Guatemala. I longed to be there, to see more, hear more, write more. In the simplest terms, I missed it.

The next summer I was invited to Ecuador for a medical mission as a translator for a gynecologist and I leapt at the chance. It was also a 10 day trip but so very different it is hard to describe. We spent every day at the hospital, helping people, but never did we get a chance to meet with them as equals. There was an enormous power dynamic: we were rich American doctors coming to reach down and help the Ecuadorian people. In Guatemala, we were Americans, but we were coming to learn. We were humble and modest and ate and drank with the people. In Ecuador, we never entered the house of an Ecuadorian-we ate every meal at the hotel or at a restaurant. We weren’t there as activists, we were there as volunteers, and trust me there is an enormous difference. Also, there were huge differences in the general feeling there. It felt incredibly safer and you could even flush your toilet paper. I loved Ecuador and I felt good when I was in the hospital room, but being there only made it clear to me that I needed to go back to Guatemala, where there was more poverty and likewise more activism. When I returned, I met with Lucia and we made a plan: I would be an intern for MIA and re-instate “Hombres Contra Feminicidio” and co-facilitate with an amazing poet-activist named Simon Pedroza. This time I am going for 10 weeks and I finally get to be involved and work directly with the people. And I couldn’t be happier.