Women’s Day 2010 in NYC

On March 6th, 2010, the GPDN and MIA celebrated the Women International Day at an event in New York City called: Guatemalan Women for the Immigration Reform in the U.S.

The program was divided in two parts. The first one was the launch of the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Campaign in the U.S. with the presentation of the first workshop, la Vida Dentro de una Caja. The second part was a testimony presentation by Maria Luisa Rosal and women in the audience regarding their immigrant experience and why the reform matters to them.

Workshop participants in NYC

Workshop participants in NYC


The workshop was applied as it is in the MIA’s HCF manual. The group had 10 participants from different parts of NY and NJ. See the following images that illustrate the workshop development.

Byron Izaguirre from AGMAUSA talks about machismo.

Byron Izaguirre from AGMAUSA talks about machismo.

Participants work together on an exercise.

List of responses from the exercise.

List of responses from the exercise.


What did you learn today?

_ give equal treatment to men and women

_ the importance of educating our own communities

_ how to improve family relationships and give equal treatment

_ roles have changed

_ the obstacles that roles create for people

_ women can be independent and find success on their own

Will this lesson help you improve the way you see and to things in life? How?

_ yes, communication helps the family thrive, bring up the good and bad things and understand how make things better

_ yes; I have seen more Latino men and women with more liberal views.

_ yes; make people aware of women rights

_ yes; create awareness among women of how equal we all must be

The posters were kindly donated to the HCF Campaign by Mary Wong at Women Ink — U.N. Church Center in New York City.

Guatemala Protests Arrest of 3 in Florida Over Passports


Published: January 18, 2010

The Guatemalan government has issued a public protest after three Guatemalans were arrested this month by immigration agents at a Federal Express office in Florida, when one of the immigrants went to pick up a package containing his newly issued Guatemalan passport.

Suspecting that the passport was fraudulent, Federal Express officials called Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to alert them when the Guatemalans arrived to collect the package, officials of the immigration agency said. Two of the Guatemalans were illegal immigrants who have been deported, and one is in deportation proceedings.

Guatemalan diplomats said that Federal Express and American officials had examined and seized legitimate passports without notifying them and had improperly disrupted their dealings with Guatemalan citizens living in this country. Felipe Alejos, the Guatemalan consul in Miami, said the events appeared to violate basic diplomatic protocols.

“They seized official documents, and they did not let us know,” Mr. Alejos said. “There was coordination between FedEx and ICE to detain people.”

Federal Express officials said they had followed routine company procedures when they contacted immigration authorities after detecting packages that suggested organized document fraud. Officials from the immigration agency, known as ICE, said they arrested the Guatemalans only after two of them tried to flee from the Federal Express office. Both the company and the immigration agency denied that they had collaborated to lure the immigrants to the office.

The arrests started a rumor mill of fears in communities along the Florida coast, where many immigrants, both legal and illegal, have settled.

“When people in the community perceive that FedEx acted as an agent for immigration, it undermines their belief that they can collect their mail and trust in their government,” said John De León, a lawyer for the Guatemalan consulate in Miami.

The now disputed chain of events began in November when Guatemalan consular officials based in Miami held a daylong session in Jupiter, Fla., to help Guatemalans in the area resolve problems with birth certificates, passports and other documents. Dozens of Guatemalans signed up for new or renewed passports, which are useful as a form of identification in this country.

The Guatemalan government prints and distributes passports for its citizens living in the United States through a private company, De La Luz, in Metairie, La. In December, the company sent the new passports in Federal Express packages to the Guatemalans who had applied for them.

At least 30 packages could not be delivered to the addresses listed, said a Federal Express spokeswoman, Allison Sobczak, and the shipper in Louisiana did not respond to telephone calls. FedEx employees opened several packages searching for better address information, she said.

“This was a normal routine for us to open a package and inspect it to try to get a correct shipping address,” Ms. Sobczak said. Since the passports included no paperwork indicating they were official, Federal Express contacted ICE “to make sure the documents were legitimate,” she said.

Damaris Roxana Vasquez, 21, a Guatemalan living in Jupiter, said that on Jan. 6, she and three Guatemalan men drove to a Federal Express office in Riviera Beach to pick up a new passport for one of the men. When they arrived, she said in an interview, Federal Express employees told them to wait because they could not locate the package.

Federal Express employees called ICE agents, who were already on their way to the office, to advise them that customers had come to pick up a suspect package, ICE officials said. When the agents arrived, two of the men tried to flee, said an ICE spokeswoman, Nicole Navas. One escaped; the other two men and Ms. Vasquez were detained, and the men later deported. Ms. Vasquez has been released while her deportation case proceeds. Her 5-year-old son, who was with her, was not detained because he is a United States citizen.

ICE seized the undelivered passports, agency officials said. After an investigation showed they were legitimate, ICE officials returned them to the Guatemalan consulate last week.

“Document fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety,” Ms. Navas said.


U.S. May Be Open to Asylum for Spouse Abuse


In an unusually protracted and closely watched case, the Obama administration has recommended political asylum for a Guatemalan woman fleeing horrific abuse by her husband, the strongest signal yet that the administration is open to a variety of asylum claims from foreign women facing domestic abuse.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times. Rody Alvarado is shown at a lawyer's offices in San Francisco. The Obama Administration has recommended a granting her asylum.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times. Rody Alvarado is shown at a lawyer's offices in San Francisco. The Obama Administration has recommended a granting her asylum.

The government’s assent, lawyers said, virtually ensures that the woman, Rody Alvarado Peña, will be allowed to remain in the United States after battling in immigration court since 1995.

Immigration lawyers said the administration had taken a major step toward clarifying a murky area of asylum law and defining the legal grounds on which battered and sexually abused women in foreign countries could seek protection here.

After 14 years of legal indecision, during which several immigration courts and three attorneys general considered Ms. Alvarado’s case, the Department of Homeland Security cleared the way for her in a one-paragraph document filed late Wednesday in immigration court in San Francisco. Ms. Alvarado, the department found, “is eligible for asylum and merits a grant of asylum as a matter of discretion.”

An immigration judge’s order granting the asylum is still required, but Ms. Alvarado’s lawyer, Karen Musalo, said that since the government had raised no new opposition, it was highly likely that the judge would approve her claim.

Ms. Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at Hastings College of the Law at the University of California, said Ms. Alvarado’s “has been the iconic case of domestic abuse as a basis for asylum.”

Jayne Fleming, a lawyer specializing in asylum at the San Francisco office of the law firm Reed Smith, called the recommendation “a giant step forward.” Advocates and immigration judges, Ms Fleming said, “now have some pretty solid guidelines from D.H.S.”

In a phone interview Thursday, Ms. Alvarado, who has not been detained and lives in California, where she is a housekeeper at a home for elderly nuns, said she was pleased but also a little dazed and disbelieving.

“I thank God it came out well,” she said, speaking in Spanish. “But it wasn’t easy to wait this long for immigration to make a decision.”

She said she hoped the outcome in her case would mean that other abused women would receive quicker decisions from the courts.

Homeland Security Department officials were cautious in assessing the implications of the administration’s recommendation. The department “continues to view domestic violence as a possible basis for asylum,” a department spokesman, Matthew Chandler, said. But such cases, Mr. Chandler said, continue to depend on the specific abuse. The department is writing regulations to govern claims based on domestic violence, he said.

After enduring a decade of violence by her husband, Francisco Osorio, a former soldier in Guatemala, Ms. Alvarado came to the United States in 1995. Over the years, immigration judges have not questioned the credibility of her story. According to court documents, she married when she was 16, and became pregnant soon afterward. In a beating that he apparently hoped would induce an abortion, Mr. Osorio dislocated her jaw and kicked her repeatedly. He also “pistol-whipped Ms. Alvarado, broke windows and mirrors with her head, punched and slapped her, threatened her with his machete and dragged her down the street by her hair,” a court filing states.

In 1996, an immigration judge in San Francisco granted Ms. Alvarado’s asylum petition, but an immigration appeals court overturned that decision in 1999. In 2001, Attorney General Janet Reno threw out the appeals court decision, but did not grant Ms. Alvarado asylum. (Because the immigration courts are part of the executive branch, not the judiciary, the attorney general is the highest legal authority.)

In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security, which represents the government in immigration cases, argued for the first time in favor of asylum for Ms. Alvarado. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered a new review but did not reach a decision. In September 2008, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey sent the case back to the immigration appeals court, encouraging the court to issue a precedent-setting ruling. Such a ruling can come only from an immigration appeals court or a federal court.

The large legal question in the case is whether women who suffer domestic abuse are part of a “particular social group” that has faced persecution, one criteria for asylum claims. In a separate asylum case in April, the Department of Homeland Security pointed to some specific ways that battered women could meet this standard.

In a recent filing, Ms. Alvarado’s lawyers argued that her circumstances met the requirements that the department had outlined in April. Now the department has agreed, in practice making the case a model for other asylum claims.

In a declaration filed recently to bolster Ms. Alvarado’s argument that she was part of a persecuted group in Guatemala, an expert witness, Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, reported that more than 4,000 women had been killed in domestic violence there in the last decade. These killings, only 2 percent of which have been solved, were so frequent that they earned their own legal term, “femicide,” said Ms. Paz y Paz Bailey, a Guatemalan lawyer. In 2004 Guatemala enacted a law establishing special sanctions for the crime.

“Many times,” she said, violence against Guatemalan women “is not even identified as violence, is not perceived as strange or unusual.”

The resolution of her case is coming too late for Ms. Alvarado to be able to raise her two children, whom she has not seen since she left them in Guatemala. The children, now 22 and 17, were raised by their paternal grandparents, whom they call Mama and Papa.

“It has been tremendously painful for me to know that they do not see me as their mother,” Ms. Alvarado said in court papers.

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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Inmigración con rostro de mujer

Jefas de familia llegan en mayor número

El flujo migratorio ha cambiado. Las mujeres se han enfrentado a riesgos por buscar mejores oportunidades en EU. — Notimex
El flujo migratorio ha cambiado. Las mujeres se han enfrentado a riesgos por buscar mejores oportunidades en EU. — Notimex

EFE | CHICAGO – La cara del flujo migratorio ha cambiado y ahora son las mujeres las que enfrentan riesgos y obstáculos y encabezan las familias que llegan a Estados Unidos en busca de mejores oportunidades.

Jefas de familia

Según el estudio “Mujeres inmigrantes: Guardianas de la familia del Siglo 21”, debatido en Chicago, la historia de la migración dejó de ser una épica masculina y las mujeres se mudan ahora tanto como los hombres.

Al presentar su estudio, el encargado Sergio Bendixen dijo que las mujeres no emigran como individuos solitarios, sino como “líderes decididas a mantener los lazos familiares intactos”.

En la actualidad, más de la mitad de los inmigrantes que ingresan a Estados Unidos son mujeres, y en el mundo las mujeres también suponen más de la mitad de toda la población migratoria, afirma el estudio.

Resultados de sondeo

Los datos presentados fueron recogidos entre agosto y septiembre de 2008, en una encuesta a 1,002 mujeres inmigrantes que nacieron en América Latina, Asia, África y países árabes.

En la presentación del estudio, patrocinada por la Coalición de Illinois para los Derechos de Inmigrantes y Refugiados, estuvieron presentes mujeres inmigrantes latinas, africanas, chinas, árabes y coreanas que compartieron sus experiencias.

Bendixen dijo que los datos presentados podrían ser útiles en el debate migratorio, porque “suavizan la imagen del inmigrante”.

Cada vez más las mujeres deciden “cruzar océanos y fronteras”, ya sea para unirse a sus esposos una vez que se han asentado, o para “preservar la familia”.

“Cuando las mujeres vienen a América, vienen como madres y esposas”, agregó.

En 2007 había 18,9 millones de mujeres inmigrantes en Estados Unidos, de las cuales 53 por ciento tenía origen latinoamericano y un promedio de edad de 35 a 49 años.

El estudio señala además que el 65 por ciento de las inmigrantes latinas nacieron en México, 12 por ciento en Centroamérica y 10 por ciento en Cuba.

Unidad familiar

Según el estudio, un 90 por ciento de las mujeres inmigrantes encuestadas (de las cuales 30 por ciento son indocumentadas) dijeron que la unidad de sus familias sigue intacta y sus hijos nacieron en Estados Unidos o se unieron a ellas aquí.

Para ello, las mujeres inmigrantes superan la barrera del idioma que más del 60 por ciento de las latinas, vietnamitas, coreanas y chinas no dominan.

Asimismo, la discriminación, falta de seguro médico y salarios bajos, muy lejos de los puestos profesionales que muchas ocupaban en sus países de origen, agrega.

Cambio de roles

El estudio señala que las mujeres inmigrantes cambian radicalmente sus roles, asumiendo el liderazgo en las responsabilidades del hogar y compartiendo con sus maridos la toma de decisiones económicas y de planificación familiar.

“En su nueva ciudad, son las mujeres las que mantienen a la familia intacta, actuando como la voz y rostro de la familia, garantizando la salud y educación de los hijos, y su entrada en la nueva sociedad”, dice el estudio.

Agrega que en un momento en que más de un tercio de las familias en los Estados Unidos son mono-parentales, el 90 por ciento de las familias inmigrantes tienen matrimonios intactos.

El indicador más relevante en su rol de administradora familiar es el hecho de que las mujeres digan que son las líderes en sus familias en el momento de decidir la ciudadanía, según el estudio.

Las encuestadas nombraron “asegurar la estabilidad familiar” como la primera razón por la que persiguen la ciudadanía estadounidense, y la segunda es votar en las elecciones.

”En el Siglo 21, el rostro del inmigrante es el de una madre”, afirma el trabajo encabezado por Bendixen.