SEPA is happy to announce that, this October, we will rejoin NISGUA’s human rights observer program in Guatemala, financially supporting Oberlin College alumna Viviana Gentry (class of ’11) as an accompanier.
SEPA formed in 1997 to support accompaniers whose presence in the indigenous, returned-refugee village of Santa Elena decreased the possibility of violent attacks by Guatemalan military and para-military groups and allowed the villagers to restart their lives with some greater sense of security.
When village accompaniment in Santa Elena and Copal AA was no longer needed, SEPA supported accompaniment of individuals and organizations seeking women’s rights, labor rights, indigenous rights and environmental rights, but also continued to support education in the villages of Santa Elena and Copal AA.
For the last three years, SEPA has supported the two villages, but hasn’t had the resources to continue supporting accompaniment. We are pleased to be able to support both education and human rights accompaniment once again.
Viviana writes, “I am a recent graduate from Oberlin College with a brand new degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in History. I hail from the Southside of Chicago, but also call Mexico City home."
" Following graduation, after working on the George Jones farm this summer, I have decided to dedicate my time to accompaniment in Guatemala with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). Accompaniment with NISGUA entails ‘walking with’ different organizations, communities, and individuals throughout their struggles for justice in post-armed conflict Guatemala. "
"Accompaniers serve as international witnesses to the work involved in building a more just and peaceful Guatemala. … Type[s] of communities and organizations that NISGUA accompanies include those organizing the protection of their land from international hydroelectric dam companies and mining companies." “Though a large portion of my family hails from Mexico, I have chosen to participate in work in Guatemala in recognition of the similar forces that affect and have affected all of Latin America. These include colonization, neoliberal development strategies, migration, and militarization. "
"Additionally, NISGUA continues to need new accompaniers to help support the network that has been in place since the Peace Accords were signed in 1996. NISGUA requires 6 months from each individual accompanier. As a result there is frequent turnover in accompaniers involved with NISGUA. The process of recovery and sustainable development in Guatemala has been and will continue to be a long and arduous process. I urge you to consider accompaniment with NISGUA if you have the time, ability, and passion to be part of a powerful relationship of solidarity.”