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.
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 the torture and killings of girls and women continue. This became what is now termed the feminicide.
In 2001, Raul Molina and I 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 shocked 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 face, and also work with Fundacion Sobrevivientes in Guatemala working to end feminicide. Sobrevivientes, under the direction of Norma Cruz, runs a center in Guatemala City which helps survivors of feminicide crimes and family members of women who have been killed.