Tag Archives: Guatemala

The Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Originally published on the blog of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on the power and possibility of social change. The climactic moment on August 28, 1963 came when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his quintessential “I Have a Dream” speech, which crystalized decades of tireless activism and ignited decades more. But a lesser-known speech delivered by Rabbi Yoachim Prinz—the President of the American Jewish Congress, who took the podium immediately before King—was stirring in a different way.

Prinz understood the plight of African Americans and other disenfranchised groups in the context of his own experience as the rabbi of a Jewish community in Berlin during Hitler’s regime. He devoted much of his life in the United States to the civil rights movement. And, in his speech at the March on Washington, he articulated a message that has always resonated with me: “Bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

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Justice Overruled? The Overturned Genocide Conviction for Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt

On Friday, May 10th, Guatemalans breathed a sigh of relief. Judge Yasmin Barrios read the verdict against Efraín Ríos Montt for the whole world to witness, and in solidarity, defenders of human rights from every corner of the globe sighed right along with them. In a landmark case, Ríos Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison for crimes against humanity and genocide against the Ixil Mayan indigenous people during the US-backed Guatemala civil war that lasted for 36 years.

A new era of justice in Latin America?

It was the first time that any former dictator from the region had been convicted on Latin American soil. It set a precedent, and evoked hope for the future of justice and accountability for the many crimes committed against indigenous peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read More »

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From Genocide to Justice: Upholding Human Rights in Guatemala

The news from Guatemala on Friday evening, May 10 stunned the world—a Guatemalan court sentenced former general José Efraín Ríos Montt to 80 years in prison for genocide. While we are deeply gratified by this historic verdict, we know that much work remains to be done to ensure justice in Guatemala.

Supporters of human rights across the globe had been watching for months as the Guatemalan courts pursued this landmark case. As the trial unfolded, it exposed the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people and attempted to hold former military leaders accountable for the atrocities committed during the country’s bloody and decades-long civil war. Read More »

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Everyone Deserves Access To Safe, Legal Abortion

Photo Credit: Feministing.com

Today is Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, so we’re taking stock of sexual and reproductive rights around the globe. For many Americans, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the struggle to safeguard women’s health in the United States. We often forget about what’s happening in the developing world. So, a reminder:

  • In Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico, health coverage for indigenous families lags substantially behind the rest of the population. In Guatemala, maternal mortality among indigenous women is almost double that of non-indigenous women. Organizations like Asociacion de Mujeres Campesinas Q’eqchies “Nuevo Horizonte” are dedicated to promoting the rights and health of Q’eqchi women in Guatemala by organizing communities to work on projects to reduce sexual and gender-based violence; increase public education on sexual health and rights; and build women’s leadership and presence in community and municipal decision-making. Read More »
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Indigenous and Rural Communities in Guatemala Demand Their Natural Resource Rights

Rural and indigenous communities in Guatemala march for their rights

On March 19th, 1,500 rural and indigenous community members in Guatemala began marching for nine consecutive days to defend their natural resource rights. Tragically, state-sanctioned practices are destroying forests and mountains, contaminating rivers and water sources, and preventing rural Guatemalan communities from sustainably producing their own food.

Nearly one year ago, hundreds of rural Maya Q’eqchi’ families were violently evicted from their homes in the Polochic Valley, Alta Verapaz. Under Guatemala’s Colom administration, the Maya Q’eqchi families were evicted in favor of large landowner and business interests including the production of agribusiness exports such as sugar cane and African palm trees for biofuels. Read More »

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Celebrating Roe v. Wade and Fighting for Reproductive Rights around the Globe

On the heels of the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we wanted to take stock of the status of reproductive rights in the developing world. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the United States’ struggle to safeguard women’s health that we often forget about what’s happening in the Global South. So, a reminder:

  • In Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico, health coverage for indigenous families lags substantially behind the rest of the population. In Guatemala, maternal mortality among indigenous women is almost double that of non-indigenous women. Organizations like Asociacion de Mujeres Campesinas Q’eqchies “Nuevo Horizonte” are dedicated to promoting the rights and health of Q’eqchi women in Guatemala by organizing communities to work on projects to decrease sexual and gender-based violence; increase public education on sexual health and rights; and build women’s leadership and presence in community and municipal decision-making. Read More »
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