Angélica Aimé Martínez Vivar

This week, 16 year-old Angélica Aimé Martínez Vivar, who participated in MIA’s workshops at INCA (all-girls’ school in zone 1) last year, was killed on her bus home from school by a stray bullet. Angie’s death marks the second time in the last two years that MIA has lost a young family member to senseless violence.

A “bala perdida” is a bullet that misses its intended mark but finds another. These are the two scariest words I have ever heard in any language. It is the epitome of senseless, random violence. There is no precaution against pure chance. Angie wasn’t engaging in any “high-risk behaviors” when she was killed: she was caught in cross-fire on a bus going home from school.

But honestly, this is the reality in Guate right now. Living in the city means living under a shroud of fear and distrust. You step out on the street and everyone you see is a potential mugger/assaulter/rapist/murderer. You must always be on guard, evaluate everyone you see, keep track of places to duck into if everything goes wrong. Going for a walk around the block can be exhausting.

It might be the legacy of thirty years of civil war, it might be the result of a market flooded with small arms, it might be due to the government’s inaction over the past few decades. But it’s hard to care about why and how we got here when a 16-year old dies and we cannot hold a single person accountable. If justice exists in cases like this it will not come through the trial of one individual.

We must prosecute the entire society, the structural violence and lack of opportunities that led three men to board a bus with arms and demand money from the passengers. We must prosecute the culture of fear that led one man to carry a firearm for personal defense. We must prosecute the culture of individualism and machismo that made him defend himself by opening fire.

I know all this sounds like rhetoric with no practical application. But in a way, this is what MIA does. From our own humble place we are fighting all these things and struggling each and every day to change them, one person at a time.

And for what it’s worth, I am proud of our girls at INCA. When they heard about this senseless act of violence they did not just go home and cry like generations of women were taught to. They marched out onto the streets, protesting against all those ineffable evils that force them to stay inside. They went out and they screamed, not with fear or anguish, but with anger, with outrage at the mindless violence that surrounds them. They marched to the Palacio Nacional, the seat of the Guatemalan executive on a day when Ban-ki Moon himself was in attendance to make themselves heard.

I can’t know if MIA being in this school played a part in these girls’ ability to find their voices, but I’d like to think that our workshops, where many of these girls get to talk about what it means to be a woman with a voice and how to channel this voice to make Guatelinda a little more linda plays a part in the confidence, courage, and valor it took for them to do this.

We’ll be back in INCA next week with these girls, and until then, kudos to these bright young girls, with them at the helm, we can all have high hopes for the future of this city.


Photo from El Periodico:


Getting ready for USAC – UPDATE

So I missed opening day, but Carlos, Manolo, and Lucia, who facilitated the first three workshops de-briefed me and the classes were a resounding success. And by resounding success I mean applause, standing ovations! Around 50 students all told, and all excited to continue learning about gender roles and violence in Guatemala!

This is incredible! We are getting college students who are hungry to learn more about our work and to get involved with the lucha! Even before class started, Lucia was bombarded with e-mails asking for readings and information to get started. These young people are ready and excited to learn more, and MIA is here to guide them. We have started a journey that is going to be transformative for our students and hopefully for us facilitators too. A very exciting time for MIA!!


Vineeta Singh is young American college graduate woman who in 2010 worked in Guatemala as an English teacher for a well-to-do private school.  As she learned about the violent reality of Guatemala, particularly for women, Vineeta looked around for activities that she could get involved with. She found this website first then Lucia Muñoz, who welcomed her immediately.  Vineeta quickly embraced the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Campain and soon became a co-facilitator. She returned to Guatemala in February 2011 to work with MIA for 5 months.

Getting ready for USAC

What a week!

It started like a regular week, I did some training with Manolo and Carlos (our facilitators who are going to help us at USAC) and some planning with Edwin (who helps us at Pedro Pablo Valdez). In the middle of the week Lucia was able to get the names and contact information for ALL the schools at the University who work on a credit-based system!!! This meant I could go talk to the HEADS of EVERY department where we could give students credit.

Talk about a break!

So I saddled up and spent Wednesday and Thursday running from one faculty to the next. I visited Agriculture, Humanities, Dentistry, Political Sciences, Engineering, the Normal School for teaching, Social Work, and the Chemical Sciences & Pharmacy. (Turns out the USAC campus is huuuuuuuuuge.)

After a lot of getting lost and a loooooooooooot of waiting in offices, I was able to make friends with many of the Deans’ secretaries and got in some face time with almost every dean or their close representative. Three of them agreed to let me post fliers and go into classrooms to talk to students (IN PERSON!) about our workshops. As MIA’s ambassador, I went from class to class plugging the awesomeness that is our Hombres Contra Feminicidio. Several of the professors made a point to tell their students how important MIA’s work is, and we had a bunch of students call and write Lucia to sign up! Success(es)!

It was absolutely exhausting, but I cannot believe how many important people I was able to see in the space of two days, crash-course in networking at the university!

Yesterday we had another succesful day at Inca. The teacher who hosts us was absent but we talked to the vice principal who gladly let us into the classes. Without a teacher of course it was a little tricky to keep the girls on task, but we ended up being able to direct their energies into lively discussions about how men and women “are” and how they “could be”.

I’m writing right now at the airport (free wi-fi at the airport? Guate win!) because I have to skip town for a few days. Unfortunately I have to miss our big opening day at the University THIS THURSDAY(!!), but Lucia is filling in for me with Manolo and Carlos, so I’m hoping my new trainees will make us all proud! Suerte ‘manos!!!!!


Vineeta Singh is young American college graduate woman who in 2010 worked in Guatemala as an English teacher for a well-to-do private school.  As she learned about the violent reality of Guatemala, particularly for women, Vineeta looked around for activities that she could get involved with. She found this website first then Lucia Muñoz, who welcomed her immediately.  Vineeta quickly embraced the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Campain and soon became a co-facilitator. She returned to Guatemala in February 2011 to work with MIA for 5 months.


Lucia Muñoz

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


Talleres de capacitación para la reducción de la violencia contra las mujeres y niñas/os.


Fecha de inicio: Jueves 10 de Marzo (duración de 10 sesiones)

Horarios: 10am a 12pm, 2 a 4 pm ó 5 a 7pm (escoger solo uno)



Se dará 1 crédito extracurricular al que

llene el 100% de participación.

lnformación: Lucía Muñoz,, tel: 4975-3310

Interesados enviar un email antes del 2 de marzo con los siguientes datos: Nombre, Unidad Académica, número de teléfono y la sesión a escoger.