About our Executive Director, Lucía Muñoz
I was born in Guatemala in 1963 and moved to the U.S. when I was five years old. I returned to Guatemala in my teen years (1976), and was there during some of the worst years of the civil war which lasted until 1996. I heard gunfire constantly and witnessed military personnel stop people on the street and on buses and lead them away. My friend, a teenage neighbor of mine, disappeared in the middle of the night. I started asking questions but was instructed by my family to ignore all of these things.
I moved back to the U.S. to attend high school in 1980. I got married in 1982 at 19 years of age and my husband and I started an import-export business. As part of this business, I traveled to Guatemala repeatedly. During these trips I asked questions and began to learn and understand what was happening in the civil conflict, in particular, that girls and women were being tortured, raped and killed. I learned that this brutality towards women was being employed as a means of population control to keep mothers from raising leftist children. It was also a tool to instill fear and prevent rebellion.
As a U.S. taxpayer, I was horrified to learn that the abuse of women was being taught by the School of the Americas as a counter-insurgency tactic, and thus that my tax dollars were being spent to promote the evil and injustice in Guatemala.
The war in Guatemala ended in 1996, but with the conservatives in control, the torture and killings of girls and women continue. This became what is now termed the f.feminicide.
In 2001, Raul Molina and I s co founded an organization with a group of Guatemalans named Guatemala Peace and Development Network. The goal of this organization was to help honor the 1996 peace accords. I became the women’s affairs coordinator for the group, and in this position I came to learn of the widespread killing of women in Guatemala.
Because I came from a military family, I was embarrassed to know that my family could be part of this gender violence. By 2004, I needed to become more directly involved with ending the feminicide . In 2005, I founded MIA, Mujeres Iniciando en Las Americas (Women Initiating in the Americas) to help end this injustice. As founder and executive director, I work with students and others here in the U.S. raising consciousness about this sad reality our sisters issue, and also work with Fundacion Sobrevivientes in Guatemala working to end feminicide. Sobrevivientes, under the directoin of Norma Cruz, runs a center in Guatemala City which helps survivors of feminicide crimes and family members of women who have been killed.
Since 2001, I have traveled to Guatemala at least twice a year for at least two weeks each time. In 2009, I traveled to Guatemala five times for a total of ten weeks. I just returned from a two-week fact-finding visit in March of this year. On this trip I had the opportunity to witness a trial during which a flawed police investigation resulted in a typical example of impunity. During every visit I meet with survivors at the Sobrevivientes Center to learn first-hand the true extent of the feminicide.
In 2010, I was in Guatemala for 8 months setting up the Hombres Contra Feminicidio campaign. During this time MIA’s workshops entered 5 grade schools, and we signed an agreement with the University of San Carlos (USAC) to give academic credits to students who take our workshops. With more funding, we hope to expand to all 18 of USAC’s campuses in Guatemala.
The same year we reached the incredible milestone of entering the Academy of the National Civil Police, where we are giving our workshops to cadets in training to become police officers all over Guatemala. We trained 10 volunteers in 2010, and have taken on four new volunteers in 2011.
I am currently living and working full-time in Guatemala training new volunteers, and helping MIA’s networks grow so we can continue to expand our workshops.
Updated March 2011