Dear Friends and Family,
I wish for your safety, resiliency, and healing during this COVID-19 pandemic! more than ever our interconnectedness amongst struggles and social movements is an answer, a strategy, a tool, a prayer, a language to keep each other afloat.
Between now and May 31st, I plan to raise $300.00 to support the work of NISGUA as part of their May Match campaign. During this time, several generous donors will match dollar for dollar every donation received, up to $50,000.
For over 30 years, NISGUA has been building long-lasting relationships with threatened human rights and environmental defenders while providing an international presence and advocacy at their request to help dissuade violence. NISGUA continues to support survivors of the Guatemalan Internal Armed Conflict and in times of global pandemics and climate catastrophes. NISGUA continues to stand with communities as they defend their lives and territories against unjust U.S. trade policies and the violent imposition of international extractive projects.
In the six months I spent in Guatemala (between October 2019- March 2020) I had the opportunity to learn, listen and connect with Indigenous Maya land/human rights defenders and leaders. I got to live and see their peaceful organizing to defend their families, cultures, lands, livelihoods and their dignity from international natural resource extraction projects. Over and over, I saw the injustices committed against them through criminalization, defamation, persecution, and attacks:
“How can I sell my land to a company (for a hydroelectric project) if the land feeds me and my family?”
These are words by a Maya land defender in court who continues to seek justice for the physical harm done to him and the murder of a community member 10 years ago by the security guards of a hydroelectric project in their community. Words that still resonate with me.
Source: ACOGUATE- Michelle providing international accompaniment to a land defender in his return to his community after being criminalized and thrown in jail for several days
Guatemalan Indigenous social movements continue to show me the precedent they are setting for other global movements with their incredible depth, resilience, diversity, artistic and cultural approaches as they continue to seek and define a just society. In the case of survivors of the Internal Armed Conflict, a precedent has been set by seeking justice through the legal system and getting former School of the Americas violent army generals to stand trial. Their efforts have really deepened and expanded my understanding of hope-something I hadn’t felt in a long time.
While also holding the complexities embedded in this process, I got to experience an embodied understanding of dignity, memory, ancestral ways, and solidarity. And as a Colombian immigrant living in the United States whose country has also been impacted by a long history of U.S. imperialism resulting in a destroyed social fabric and killings of hundreds of people, my solidarity runs very deep.
The complex legacies of the colonization of the land, language, ancestral wisdom, societal systems and people have brought us to this moment. A moment in which there is a deep interconnectedness in our struggles and stories, in our visions for liberation, in our practices towards justice. And while our stories are different, and hold different privileges, our interconnected story is one of forced displacement, migration, diaspora, sexual violence, death and so much more. Our interconnected stories of liberation is one we are currently writing and one I deeply believe in...
I continue to be committed to international solidarity and cross-border organizing (take a moment to sign on to No Safe Third Agreements campaign) as a way to connect, acknowledge, and learn from the struggles, stories, liberatory practices and visions of Indigenous, Black, and People of Color.
International solidarity strengthens our social justice movements. I am deeply committed to the work of NISGUA and the work of Guatemalan communities who are fighting for justice and self-determination.
In moments like these, cross-border solidarity is essential!
Please consider making a gift-- every dollar counts! And during this match campaign, it will go twice as far.