Posts Tagged ‘Maya’


Indigenous Women as Development Practitioners: conducting equality-driven projects without sacrificing cultural significance

By Elizabeth Gunggoll

The encroachment of Western culture on Indigenous communities has posed a myriad of consequences for Indigenous peoples – Indigenous languages are increasingly endangered; western education is replacing traditional knowledge; youth are moving to urban areas in droves. What starts as marginalization of an entire community by the government or state can turn into a power struggle of the sexes. More often than not, Indigenous women find themselves losing the social status they traditionally held, to have it replaced by a role that gives them less influence in their household or community.

In this way, Indigenous women are marginalized twofold: one, as being Indigenous, along with the rest of their community, and two, as women. For example, non-Indigenous women across Africa lack rights to inheritance, property/livestock ownership, and land tenure. The same lack of rights for Indigenous women, paired with ethnic and political marginalization that all Indigenous peoples face, predisposes them further to situations of poverty, gender-based violence, a lack of education, and other disadvantages.


Ma’an – The Forum for Bedouin Women’s Organizations in the Negev

For the Negev Bedouin community in Israel, women have lost their traditional respected status and societal roles due to increased discrimination from the state, to the point where many Bedouin villages are considered “unrecognized”. This marginalization from the state gave rise to the marginalization of Bedouin women from their own community. Bedouin women face a multitude of gender-based challenges, including polygamy, domestic violence, child marriages, and a patriarchal family and community structure that has lasting consequences into adulthood. For Negev Bedouin women, their greatest limitation is a lack of both individual and community awareness of rights and entitlements. So the question is: what could be done to help Indigenous Bedouin women regain their autonomy, and restore their ability to trust others?

Ma’an – The Forum for Bedouin Women’s Organizations in the Negev works to provide spiritual, emotional, and physical healing for Bedouin women who are or have been subjected to domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. In a community where seeking help is often discouraged, trust is developed between those reaching out for help and those lending “first aid”, by offering sympathy as well as practical solutions to their struggles. The fact that most of the volunteers are Bedouin women with similar experiences offers a degree of comfort to those seeking help, because “they themselves [face] the traditional and patriarchal codes.” With the help of First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, Ma’an has created a comprehensive system for women’s protection, which involves a Hotline, the Ma’an legal team, and staff to address the welfare and wellbeing of Ma’an’s beneficiaries. Such an attentive project enables an environment where Indigenous Bedouin women can work toward their own security.

“With guidance and support the beneficiaries will develop to be able to effectively advocate for their rights within the community, so creating and contributing to an inclusive society by participating in decision making processes that impact upon their lives and that of the wider community.” – Ma’an– The Forum for Bedouin Women’s Organizations in the Negev

Ultimately, Ma’an’s goal is for Indigenous Bedouin women to regain the respect, strong social footing, and economic capabilities they once held alongside their male counterparts. By promoting women’s rights and status in the Negev Bedouin community, the project will build on the community’s traditional values and strengths of respecting women’s roles.


Kakenya Center for Excellence

While some Indigenous women’s groups are trying to return to their traditional gender roles, others are looking to transcend traditional values in order to broaden their horizons. As a young girl growing up in a Maasai village, life is usually predetermined according to cultural traditions, and girls are expected to halt their schooling at a young age to become wives and mothers. Young Maasai women might not consider more prosperous and enlightening opportunities, simply because they aren’t aware of them. This cycle of marginalization is reinforced from one generation to the next, as a combination of doubting teachers and tribal elders “dictating [their] present and future without considering [their] social, financial, or emotional well-being”. So, while young Indigenous girls are essentially dissuaded from continuing their education in order to assume the role of the childrearing homemaker, they lose the opportunity to gain important insight into their rights.

This is where the Kakenya Center for Excellence, another Keepers of the Earth Fund recipient, comes into play. Kakenya Ntaiya, born and raised in the Maasai village of Enoosaen in south Kenya, diverged from the traditional path of women in her village to attend higher education in the United States. After completing her studies, she returned to Enoosaen to create a school which works to “empower and motivate young girls to become agents of change in their community and country.”

[photo credit: Kakenya Center for Excellence]

[photo credit: Kakenya Center for Excellence]

“Girls are a valuable part of the community, and since the entire community is connected and thrives when each individual thrives, it is important to invest in girls as crucial members and contributors of society rather than only wives and mothers.” – The Kakenya Center for Excellence

The center works to reinforce the fact that women are independent, and therefore capable of carving their own path, however it does so without sacrificing traditional Maasai values. To do this, KCE provides an environment where the girls can thrive. The teaching of leadership skills and the spreading of knowledge in order to make informed decisions about reproductive health forms a curriculum that not only empowers, but also enlightens. In the Maasai village of Enoosaen, as in many rural villages of Kenya, Female Genital Mutilation is a rite of passage into adulthood that also traditionally prepares them for marriage – however the procedure is extremely painful and often inflicts lasting physical damage to young girls. Instructors in the center let the girls know that FGM is not an obligation while also maintaining the spirit behind the ritual, and the ushering into adulthood it represents, through their own graduation ceremony. All in all, the Kakenya Center for Excellence demonstrates that it is indeed possible to hold on to cultural values while still developing one’s community in a direction of gender-equality.


Highland Women’s Association

Indigenous women living in microregions of Guatemala are confronted with similar challenges. The Maya population, making up much of the country’s rural poor, suffered genocide from the Guatemalan government during their civil war. In 1992, four years before the end of the war, AMA, or the Highland Women’s Association (Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano), started working with widows and orphans in the Quiche region, one of the most affected by the armed conflict. AMA’s goal was to help the most isolated and marginalized women living in the highlands of Guatemala through community organizing, educational instruction, utilization of economic resources and production, and partnership that allows for a life of dignity, while initiating sustainable developmental processes.

“The mission of AMA is to break cycles of dependency by providing accompaniment and support to grassroots community leaders to foster transformational processes with Indigenous women.” The transformational process, meaning lifting people out of poverty through social change and economic dependency, is facilitated through small organized women’s circles led by trained community organizers, often of Maya descent. Empowerment and leadership skills are developed through a curriculum organized around four focal areas: self-esteem and mental health programming, education, civic participation, and private enterprise.

Traditional Maya practices and values are not lost with the installation of these new programs.

“In our meetings, we try to harmonize the material aspects of our daily lives with our spiritual life through our Maya worldview taught to us by our grandparents.” Guadalupe Ramirez Blevins, Directora, Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano

This is in part a large reason for their success as a system of development practitioners. The Indigenous Maya women are able to regain pride and empowerment in their traditional values, as opposed to distancing themselves from the culture that sparked a civil war wishing to extinguish their existence.

AMA’s success has helped to re-instill freedom of expression among Maya women as more respect is being given to Indigenous Maya communities since the end of the civil war. Three generations starting from AMA’s founder, Doña Carmen Romero, her daughter Alejandra, and now her granddaughters Jesica and Yolanda are able to vouch for the success and empowerment that AMA has brought to Indigenous Maya women. They say that community organization is required for community development, for having a voice and power in community decision making, and also in order to inspire other women to be active among their own group of women – whether they are serving in their local school, community committees, or being an active member in their church.


Pastoral Women’s Council

Safeguarding cultural values while escaping gender inequality continues to be an important factor in other community development projects as well. The Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), based in Northern Tanzania, implements a variety of programs with this goal in mind. Not only does PWC work towards providing an education for Maasai girls, but it also lifts marginalized Maasai women out of poverty through exposure to property ownership and opportunities for income generation, while preserving an ancient Maasai practice of livestock herding.

[photo credit: Pastoral Women's Council]

[photo credit: Pastoral Women’s Council]

Aside from working with the Maa Council of Elders to lift the ban on women as livestock owners, exposure to women in leadership has had a great effect on the women of the Maasai community. Additionally, women are encouraged to openly discuss the positive and negative aspects of Maasai culture, to act on their findings, and to mobilize local efforts and resources. These factors, on top of increased awareness of their individual rights, caused Maasai women to finally feel empowered. The encouragement of such expression lets the Maasai women know they have a voice worth hearing, and everyone is capable of being an agent of change.

Since becoming a Keepers of the Earth Fund grantee, PWC has been able to undertake community meetings and gain community support, acquire and vaccinate livestock for Maasai women to breed, therefore facilitating economic independence, and train women on the diagnosis and treatment of livestock diseases.


All women, Indigenous or not, feel the effects of gender inequality on a daily basis. However, for women of Indigenous communities, the effects are often compounded by the unique marginalization of their Indigenous identity. As Western culture inevitably continues to influence more Indigenous nations, it is important to bring attention to and promote Indigenous values that value Indigenous women. Feelings of empowerment grow and thrive in programs where Indigenous women are sharing education and leadership with other women from their own communities, empowering them to be autonomous, independent members of society. There is still quite a bit of work to be done, yet more and more Indigenous women are living the lives of development practitioners, and being agents of change within their communities. As it becomes more evident that the entire community thrives when each individual is empowered, the reality of gender equality within Indigenous cultures comes more clearly into view.




14 Grantees to Celebrate in 2014!

Happy Holidays from First Peoples Worldwide! As 2014 comes to a close, we are honored to share just a few of the Indigenous organizations that our Keepers of the Earth Fund supported this year. Totaling $220,059, our grants reached 43 organizations in 29 countries. Every year we are more amazed and thankful for the amazing things Indigenous communities are doing across the globe.

CKGR village of Molapo

CKGR village of Molapo

Ditshwanelo (Botswana) –The Basarwa/San peoples who inhabit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana have faced forcible relocations to designated re-settlement areas, and as a result, their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle is at risk. Ditshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, has teamed up with the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) NGO Coalition to develop a program that would help ease tensions between the Basarwa/San tribes and the CKGR authorities. KOEF provided funding to support this initiative, which maps land use in the CKGR and would allow the Basarwa/San peoples to actively take part in the preservation and environmentally-responsible use of the CKGR’s delicate ecosystem. Two drafts of the mapping program have already been presented to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), and KOEF’s funding will allow Ditshwanelo to continue its work in land use mapping.


AWISH Community Brushing for IVS Rice Project

AWISH Community Brushing for IVS Rice Project

A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity (AWISH) and the Coalition for Community Transformation and Development (Sierra Leone) – Although AWISH continues to strive to reestablish the Inland Valley Swamp Rice network in Sierra Leone after a decade of civil war, it has been severely hampered by the Ebola epidemic. Working alongside the CCTD, the coalition deployed Ebola prevention and protection measures through provision of food, water, medicines and disinfectants along with training for mass groups of community peoples on how they can protect themselves against contracting the virus. In this instance, First Peoples Worldwide loosened its usually rigid granting parameters and provided two small grants from Keepers of the Earth Fund in response to an international crisis for humanity.


Grand Houroumi Initiative (Algeria/Niger/Nigeria) – Twice per year, the nomadic Farfarou Peoples, along with their life-supporting herds of animals, traverse the Grand Houroumi, a 2,000-kilometer stretch of land through Algeria, Niger, and Nigeria. The Farfarou experience mounting pressures to sedentarize by governments that do not understand the ecological and cultural importance of their lifestyles. With support from KOEF and the ICCA Consortium, the Farfarou are using participatory mapping and modern GPS technologies to delineate the Grand Houroumi. The project is a crucial step towards acquiring recognition of the Farfarou’s collective rights to use and conserve the Grand Houroumi, and will be guided by pulaaku, a code of conduct that emphasizes patience, self-control, discipline, prudence, modesty, respect for others, wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality, courage, and hard work.


Mission Shalom International (Senegal) – This project serves the Diola Peoples that inhabit the coastal plain between the Gambia and Sao Domingo rivers of Senegambia and Guinea-Bissau. These wet-rice farmers, predominantly women, have a long-established tradition of farming together, growing food to feed their families. Five rural Indigenous women networks in five villages in the Casamance region, supported by Shalom International, conducted community building workshops to rebuild the Diola values system in improving food production, and adapting knowledge and local contexts to conform to Diola values and beliefs.


“Sain Tus Center” Business Management Training Course, May 23-24, 2013 – Khuvd, Mongolia

“Sain Tus Center” Business Management Training Course, May 23-24, 2013 – Khuvd, Mongolia


Sain Tus Center (Mongolia)Sain Tus Center is located in Mongolia, the country with the largest share of Indigenous peoples in the world. They had a long history of development funding for their community, but wanted to work on a project that focused on the preservation of their traditions. Specifically, they wished to preserve the Uriankhai Tuuli, which is a traditional epic, or story told through song, and has been declared “a tradition in urgent need of protection” by UNESCO. With their KOEF grant, Sain Tus will be able to create a documentary about the Uriankhai Tuuli, teach several school children how to deliver the Tuuli, and film a television program to raise local awareness about their traditions.


cordilleralogoCordillera Peoples Alliance (Philippines) – The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) represents the Igorot Peoples of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The CPA believes that music, dancing, theater, and other forms of cultural exchange are the best methods of preserving traditional knowledge, educating their youth and disseminating information about unwanted development in Igorot territories. KOEF funded the CPA to form a cultural youth group that will prepare and perform cultural productions in eight communities threatened with development aggression throughout the CAR. The final performance will be held on Cordillera Day, which is an annual celebration commemorating the death of Macliing Dulag, who was murdered in 1980 for his opposition to the Chico River Dam Project.


Tribes Defenders 2Tribes and Natures Defenders (Philippines) – The project is located at the Higa-onon and Manobo tribal communities. Previously, this community received a grant to support its Hilltop Tribal School project that enabled Filipino children to attend school. With its second grant, TRINAD will implement its sustainable economic development project to reestablish farms destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) in order to recover from hunger created by this natural disaster. The basis of this project is recovering the food system based on traditional Higa-onon values and beliefs and capacity-building for community people in implementing a tribal farming system.


Centro de Mujeres Aymaras (Bolivia) – Although traditional laws and customs emphasize respect for women in Aymara communities, Aymara women in La Paz, Bolivia frequently experience inequality, discrimination, and abuse. With support from KOEF, the Centro de Mujeres Aymaras will facilitate the written documentation of traditional laws regarding women. They will then spread awareness of these laws to traditional and legal authorities, and to Aymara communities throughout the region, through a combination of seminars, conferences, radio programs, and days of reflection.


Fundacion Mujeres del Agua (Venezuela) – In southeastern Venezuela’s Gran Sabana (Great Savannah), the traditional lifestyles of the Pemon Peoples are rapidly transforming due to the influx of mining to the region. As young men go to work in the mining industry and become increasingly influenced by mainstream culture and the cash economy, women are left as the primary guardians of Pemon traditional values, which emphasize peace, self-sufficiency, and respect for the earth. KOEF supported Fundacion Mujeres del Agua to convene gender-focused and culturally-oriented leadership trainings aimed at enhancing the presence of Pemon women in traditional and contemporary political forums throughout the Gran Sabana.


img_1883Cultural Survival (Guatemala) – Cultural Survival’s community radio program is designed to unify and strengthen communication among Mayan communities in Guatemala, many of which live in remote and rural areas of the country. KOEF supported Cultural Survival to produce and broadcast radio programs on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). The programs, which are developed by community members and aired in Indigenous languages on more than fifty radio stations, informed Mayan communities about their government’s granting of concessions on their traditional territories, alerted them to the potential consequences, and offered strategies for asserting their right to FPIC.


downloadIndigenous Lafkenche Community of Llaguepulli (Chile)The Lafkenche-Mapuche peoples of Llaguepulli were already working towards Indigenous autonomy and preservation of their heritage when they began to develop a microfinance institution with the help of Maple Microfinance. With a small school run by the community which teaches students their native Mapudungun language, as well as a history of successful self-managed development, starting their own community financial institution seemed like the next step for the Lafkenche-Mapuche peoples. The community received generous support from several funders, in addition to the funds received from First Peoples. Their KOEF funds will specifically support a stipend for two female community managers to work on the microfinance institution.


FamiliaAwUnidad Indigena de Pueblo Awa (Colombia) – The Awa Peoples of southwestern Colombia experience massive and systematic violations of their rights due to the presence of various armed groups in their katza su (territories). KOEF supported the Unidad Indigena de Pueblo Awa to organize a forum of leaders from various Awa reservations to exchange traditional seeds and discuss the history and mythology behind them. The leaders then began the process of planning and creating a self-sustaining Awa farm, which will infuse their traditional farming practices with contemporary permaculture techniques. The farm will serve as a model for other farms in Awa territories, and as a means of combating poor nutrition, environmental degradation, and cultural deprivation in Awa communities.


Chickee Completed! [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Chickee Completed! [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (United States) The Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (SSPI) is a community organization located in Oklahoma that strives to support the local Native peoples, which include the Seminole and Muscogee Creek tribes. KOEF provided funding for the SSPI to participate in the rebuilding of a Seminole chickee—a structure used for housing, cooking, and eating—that had been damaged by a lightning strike. The financial assistance provided by KOEP allowed for the transportation of traditional cypress and palm fronds that were used to rebuild the chickee in time for the 2nd Annual Corn Conference and the 40th anniversary celebration of the International Indian Treaty Council Conference (IITC).


Hui Malama I Na Kupuna o Hawai’I Nei (United States)The “Hui” is a Native Hawaiian organization working to identify and repatriate the remains of Native Hawaiian ancestors. The people are ‘Oiwi, which literally means “of the bone” and refers to one’s parents, their parents, and their parents, ad infinitum (ancestry). They believe in an interdependent relationship between themselves and their relatives, and the responsibility of care and protection between the living and deceased. The organization received a second grant to continue its work in identifying Hawaiian skeletal remains, specifically in the collections at Oxford University, Museum of Natural History in England. The organization waited four years for a determination from the University as to whether or not four skulls thought to be Native Hawaiian were indeed Native Hawaiian. Three of the skulls were determined to be Native Hawaiian and two of these were repatriated with funds awarded in the first KOE grant. One of the remaining two was found to be Native Hawaiian and one Egyptian. The second grant was used to repatriate the third skull. By returning the ancestors home for reburial, the Hui restored and strengthened the Native Hawaiian ancestral foundation.

 Stay tuned for more news from FPW in January 2015!




#NativeEats Recipe: Indigenous Hot Kakaw

 By Gabriela Arevalo

Photo Credit: Cafe Kakaw

Photo Credit: Cafe Kakaw

With the cold weather approaching, this Indigenous Hot Kakaw recipe comes from the diverse Maya people of southern Mexico to Northern Central America. They are credited as being some of the first peoples to manufacture rubber, and the first group to cultivate cacao, papaya and the aguacate (avocado pear). The Maya people developed an agriculturally intensive, city-centered civilization consisting of numerous independent city-states, and Mayan descendants continue to practice their rich culture in what used to be the Maya civilization’s lands.

Cacao is abundant in the lands of the Maya, who were the first to roast the seeds of the cacao fruit to make hot chocolate. The ancient Maya drank their chocolate as a ceremonial elixir and a savory mood enhancer. For the Maya, cacao was a sacred gift of the gods, and cacao beans were also used as currency. Ek Chuah, the Maya god of merchants and trade, also acted as the patron of the cacao crop.

The Mayan Hot Kakaw or Hot Chocolate Drink was a beverage to honor Gods and high ranking individuals such as priests and lords. In ancient times, Maya never mixed the cacao bean paste with milk – instead, they only used hot water. When the Spanish invaded Maya lands in the 1500s, they adopted the beverage, adding their influence to it with sugar and milk to make it sweet and creamy. Indigenous Maya people still drink the following ancient hot chocolate, or Hot Kakaw, recipe.

This recipe is great for chocolate lovers who will find a truly rich deep bittersweet chocolate flavor with a pinch of soft chili pepper touch enhancing the deep aroma of this pure and authentic traditional hot chocolate. The quality of the Kakaw or cacao paste you use makes all of the difference when it comes to nutritional value, aroma and flavor. Pure organic cacao butter is filled with antioxidants and mood-boosting polyphenols – especially during a cold winter! If the Maya hot chocolate is too strong and unfamiliar, just exchange the traditional use of water for milk.


vaso maya

Photo Credit: Yucatan Adventure


3 cups boiling water

1 to 2 cinnamon sticks

8 ounces bittersweet Maya Kakaw or Xocoalt (chocolate paste) or

3 tablets Mexican unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons of wild pure honey, or raw sugar to taste

1 pinch of dried red chili; this is what makes the difference so try it!

1 dried organic grown vanilla bean, split lengthwise

l tablespoon roasted peanuts, ground extra fine (optional Aztec hot chocolate taste)

How to Prepare:

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cinnamon sticks to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 cups. Remove cinnamon sticks; add the vanilla bean and lower the heat a bit, wait until bubbles appear around the edge to reduce heat to low and drop the chocolate pieces and wild pure honey, mix well and whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted. Turn off heat and remove vanilla bean. Whisk vigorously to create a light foam effect, sprinkle the dried chili pepper and serve; and for an Aztec hot chocolate taste, sprinkle the roasted peanut powder.


Sources: Yucatan Adventures, National Geographic


Bolstering Legitimacy of Consultation Processes

In August 2014, a Guatemalan court ruled that Indigenous Peoples’ “right to information and consultation” must be respected “before granting any kind of mining permits”, and that an exploration license for Goldcorp’s Los Chocoyos project should be cancelled due to lack of consultation with Mayan communities. The plaintiffs are now expressing intentions to challenge Goldcorp’s nearby Marlin mine, which has been active since 2005.page3image15336 page3image15496 page3image15656 page3image15816

Goldcorp states on its website that its alleged lack of consultation at Marlin is a “myth” and that the government “instituted a Discussion Round-Table in December of 2010, made up of legitimate and legal representatives from the communities…in which dialogue and participation in environmental and social issues, among others, have been given high priority.” Goldcorp references these claims with links to various government agencies that were involved with the Discussion Round-Table. The legitimacy of the Discussion Round-Table would be bolstered if the company also referenced the community representatives and organizations that participated.

Sources: Goldcorp, Upside Down World, Rights Action


Increasing Numbers of Unaccompanied Indigenous Children Fleeing to the United States


by Britnae Purdy

The recent surge in immigrants coming from Central America to the United States has been causing quite the media frenzy, as politicians argue over ways to address the flow and locals in border towns express their dissatisfaction.

We’re not going to dive into the political debate right now – what we want to discuss is the fact that a disproportionate number of these immigrants are unaccompanied Indigenous children.

US Customs and Border Protection reports that 57,525 unaccompanied minors have been detained at the US-Mexico border already this year, with an expected 90,000 to be detained by the end of the year. Notably, the number of undocumented immigrants coming from the El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala has increased dramatically:

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 5.23.21 PM

80 percent of unaccompanied minors illegally immigrating to the United States today are from these three countries, known as the Northern Triangle. The majority are teenagers, but the number of children under 12 who are traveling alone has increased by 117 percent this year.

The majority of children, and in fact of all immigrants coming from this region, are not coming for economic gain, as is commonly believed in the American media. Rather, they are fleeing from increasingly tumultuous situations in their home countries, which are becoming more and more controlled by gangs and narco-trafficking. With inefficient police and legal systems to protect them, more and more children are journeying to the United States to seek asylum. The risk of the journey seems a lesser evil than the threats of rape, murder, torture, or forced gang participation that children will face if they stay.

Reasons for Leaving Home Country

Reason Cited El Salvador Guatemala Honduras
Organized Violence 66% 20% 44%
Abuse in the Home 21% 23% 24%
Deprivation 7% 29% 21%
Both Organized Violence and Abuse in the Home 15% 5% 11%

These factors are hitting Indigenous peoples in Guatemala, the Maya, particularly hard. Indigenous peoples make up 40 percent of the Guatemalan population, and 73 percent of them live in poverty, and 22 percent in extreme poverty, compared to 53.4 percent and 13 percent of the general population, respectively. In 2013, Guatemala averaged 101 murders per week; many of these may take place in rural areas where more Indigenous populations live, further away from possible police oversight. Additionally, sexual assaults in Guatemala have increased 70 percent between 2009-2013.

Reasons for Leaving Home Country, Guatemala

  Non-Indigenous Indigenous
Organized Violence 20% 25%
Abuse in the Home 23% 30%
Deprivation 29% 55%

The Maya continue to be excluded from the political process in Guatemala, and Indigenous leaders and human rights activists are routinely threatened with death or torture. Though nearly 200,000 Indigenous peoples were murdered during the countries civil war 36-year long civil war, none of the perpetrators have yet been brought to justice, contributing to a sense of distrust between Indigenous communities and the government. Additionally, many Indigenous men are forced into the Guatemalan military against their will, though only 14 percent of the national police force is of Indigenous descent. The Maya face many large-scale struggles including encroaching extractive industries, land redistribution, the use of their sacred grounds as tourist attractions, and systematic discrimination against Mayan dress, cultural practices, and language use.

When minors arrive in the United States, they typically surrender themselves to the first uniformed border officer they see. They are then held in detention centers pending asylum hearings and court dates.

All of these children need our support and assistance, but we need to be particularly sensitive to those coming from Maya communities. They may speak neither English nor Spanish but rather one of 26 Indigenous Mayan languages including Q’eqchi, Cakchiquel, Mam, Tzutujil, Achi and Pokoman , and as such may be further silenced and neglected in the daunting US immigration system. They are likely to be undernourished due to poverty and scarred both emotionally and physically by the situations they encountered in their home countries as well as during the journey to the United States.

Currently, through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 60 percent of unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America quality for international protection, and internal Department of Homeland Security estimates indicate that 70 percent of the children themselves believe they qualify for asylum, less than 50 percent of minor immigrants are ultimately granted asylum and allowed to stay in the United States.

(Photo: Maya family from Concepcion, Solola, Guatemala, by the United Nationsón/)


Grantee Highlight: Cultural Survival’s Community Radio Project


First Peoples Worldwide recently funded a grant to Cultural Survival to support a community radio initiative in Guatemala. Along with their sister organization, Sobrevivencia Cultural, Cultural Survival has been working to establish a network of 80+ community radio stations across Guatemala. Community radio has proven to be an important tool in promoting Indigenous language use, sharing news and ideas, and enhancing political capacity – as Community Radio Project Assistant Ingrid Sub Cuc says, “We believe that this project strengthens the subjects of law in our community. If we empower the people on their rights, they have the ability to generate their own development and demand the state for changes.” Here, we interview Ingrid, along with Workshop and Events Coordinator Cesar Gomez, to learn more about the successes and challenges of this project.


Q:Where did the idea to create a community radio project come from?

 R: The community radio fight in Guatemala has been going on for 18 years, since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996. The Peace Accords guaranteed the freedom of expression for Indigenous communities through any media, television, radio, etc. Despite this, community radios in Guatemala continue to suffer discrimination, criminalization and persecution on behalf of the Guatemalan Government.

Community radios are vital source of information for rural communities in Guatemala. All radios produce most or at least some of their programs in the local Indigenous language. They promote small local businesses, encourage the preservation of language and culture as well as educate on subjects such as health, human rights and free, prior and informed consent.


Q: How has your project been progressing in the communities? Are there any successes or challenges you’d like to share?

R: Despite the constant persecution, community radios have stayed on the air in various communities. The workshops and conferences that are organized by Cultural Survival and other local organizations have encouraged and equipped radio communicators to fight for their rights and support one another. In this process they are learning the steps to building radio messages. As the messages are produced and aired regularly, they subconsciously educate the audience of the negative effects of mega-projects launched by companies.

As for the challenges, the distance between the radios and the cost of mobilization, limits the participation of some communicators, but it is necessary to promote these activities to engage others and other communicators. It is also important to facilitate resources for transportation to obtain more participation. The participation of women is also limited by the existing macho culture in the country.  Efforts have been made nevertheless by the community radios to include women. We must continue to motivate more partners in the process – having a follow-up process is also essential to further strengthen the cognitive skills of communicators on the rights of Indigenous peoples, the organizational experiences of other communities and implement new communication technologies.


Q. What are your hopes for the future with this project?

R: The hope is that communicators generate opinions with the audience about the struggles of indigenous peoples for the defense of their land and territory. This will allow us to start minimizing the climate of exploitation, discrimination and racism against Indigenous peoples. As Indigenous communities, our rights should be taken into account in all decisions – political, economic, and social for cultural relevance.


Visiting the Ixil Triangle and Uncovering its History with Community Radios


Reposted from Cultural Survival

Haga clic aquí para la versión e español 

Guatemala has a sad history for the Mayan people. The civil war tore its population and left a veil of fear that has taken years to uncover. Despite the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996 that brought peace to Guatemala and ended its 36 years of war, little has actually changed for indigenous communities. The Ixil triangle holds much of Guatemala’s war history. Located on the Cuchumatanes mountains, the Ixil triangle is composed of three communities Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzal. The area is referred to as the Ixil triangle because the three communities form a triangle geographically and the Mayan dialect spoken there is Ixil.


Women and Men for Peace members at their traditional picnic. 

During a short 3-day visit to Nebaj, Cultural Survival’s newest team member Ingrid Sub Cuc met with a couple of people from the Group, Women and Men for Peace. This local non-profit of Maya Ixiles works for the empowerment and development of the Nebaj community. The group was originally composed of about an equal number of men and women, around 36 total, but the slow start and little income they were making pushed the men to find other jobs. There are still men involved in the group but most of them are too busy working to participate in all of the activities. The group sells textiles and holds various community activities to raise money, including providing tours around their communities to foreigners. With the money they raise, they are able to rent a small space that they’ve turned into an internet cafe. Putting all their efforts together, the group was able to buy a piece of land, which was one of their biggest dreams. They continue to work hard and hope to build a small gathering center for their activities as well as a retreat center for the youth and members fo the community.

Men and women for Peace members collect corn and work their land for future projects. 

While participating in the group’s traditional picnic, Ingrid was able to talk to Petronila, a radio volunteer. Petronila volunteers twice a week at her local radio station, Radio Ixil, where she runs her own program on women’s health and women’s role in the church. Radio Ixil has been on the air for over ten years and transmits most of their programs in the local language. The radio plays an important role in the community. Not only is it vital for news and events but it has also proven very vital during the trial of Efrain Rios Montt in 2011. During the trial of ex-president Rios Montt, the Ixil community played a key role in the court. Most of the testimonies and evidence that were used in court came from the Ixil Triangle since these were the most effected communities. The group of Women and Men for Peace held several sessions to take down people’s testimonies. The radio was able to encourage people to participate and speak up during this trial. Radio Ixil is small but stable, their frequency was donated to them in recent years, so they are one of the few community radios functioning legally in Guatemala.

Petronila shared stories of the war and the difficulties of moving on and reconciling that chapter of life for her community. The radio plays a vital role in this process. It is incredible to see a community that fully embraces their history and take steps to educate their youth. The Ixil triangle hasn’t changed much over the years due to its remote location but it has learned to use its resources well. Radio Ixil operates everyday and will certainly continue to empower both women and men in Nebaj.



Maya People of Southern Belize Endorse Consultation Framework for FPIC

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Brief History

In 2011 the Toledo Alcaldes Association endorsed the final draft of the Alcaldes Bill which was presented to the Ministry of Local Government of Belize. At the time, the said Ministry tasked a panel to revise local government policies for city councils, town councils and village councils. The Alcaldes Jurisdiction Bill was presented to the panel for consideration. The Alcaldes Bill was the result of 6 years of engaged dialogue and documentation of Maya customary governance system.

In 2012 the Toledo Alcaldes Association developed and endorsed an initial Consultation Framework which was shared with relevant Ministries of the Government of Belize. The Consultation Framework was informed by the process and outcome of the Alcaldes Bill. The purpose of the initial framework was to advice the Government of Belize, its agencies, and non‐ state entities on how to pursue initiatives on Maya customary lands that affect its use, benefit, and enjoyment by the Maya People.

The present document was born from the 2012 Consultation Framework. It grew through a series of working sessions and dialogue between Maya People, Alcaldes, the Maya Leaders Alliance, and their Counsel. We join our minds, hearts and spirits to present the 2014 Consultation Framework.



Bearing in mind that the indigenous Maya Q’eqchi and Mopan peoples, comprising 38 Maya villages, traditionally own, occupy and use lands, territories and resources in the Toledo district of southern Belize in accordance with customary practices and ways of life,

Bearing in mind also the unique relationship and traditional attachment between the Maya people and their lands, territories and environment,

Recognizing that the Maya people have a customary system of village governance, representation, consultation, and decision‐making,

Recognizing also that the village Alcaldes are the traditional representatives of each Maya village, and are elected in accordance with Maya customary practices,

Emphasizing that according with Maya customary practices, decision‐making authority does not rest unilaterally in the elected Alcaldes, but rather vests in the village collectively,

Emphasizing also that each Mayan village customarily makes decisions at village meetings, and that the village meeting is the fundamental authority and primary decision‐making body of the village, whereas the Alcalde is only the appointed representative of the will of the villagers as expressed through village meetings,

Acknowledging that, the Toledo Alcaldes Association (TAA), composed of the elected Alcaldes, is the central authority and representative body of the Maya people as a whole and is also the arbiter and defender of Mayan customary law and practices,

Acknowledging also that, in order to fulfill the mandate given by the Maya people, the Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA) provides technical, legal and other strategic support to the TAA,

Recalling that the judgments of the Supreme Court of Belize of October 18, 2007 and June 28, 2010 affirm that the Maya people own the lands, territories and resources that they have traditionally used and occupied in accordance with Maya customary law; and that no actions that affect the existence, value, use or enjoyment of Maya property may be undertaken on those lands without the informed consent, on an ongoing basis, of the affected village or villages,

Recalling also that the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Belize of July 25, 2013 reaffirms the entitlement of the Maya people to lands, territories, and resources in Southern Belize which they customarily occupy and use,

Recalling further that the Inter‐American Commission on Human Rights, in 2004, recognized the rights of the Maya people to their lands, territories and resources, and prohibited the government of Belize or any third party from interfering with the territories of the Maya people in the absence of their consent,

Considering that Belize is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, it is thus bound by its international obligations to recognize and protect the human rights of the indigenous Maya people,

Considering further that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man require that the Maya indigenous peoples be consulted in good faith through their own representatives or institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them or their territory.

Now therefore it is resolved by the Maya people as follows:

Section I


1. The present framework represents the resolution of the Maya people in the southern Toledo district of Belize, and is intended to serve as the consultation protocol to be followed by any Belizean government, its agencies and other non‐state or private entities, whenever a policy initiative, legislative proposal, administrative measure, development, economic project, or any other action that may affect the lands, territories or well‐being of the Maya people is being considered.

  1. It is the objective of this framework that all processes of consultation with the Maya people be culturally appropriate, timely, meaningful, in good faith and meet international normative standards, particularly the requirement of free, prior, and informed consent.
  2. Where the interest of the Maya people may be affected by any proposed action or activity, consultation must begin at the planning stage and continue throughout the life cycle of the proposed action or activity.
  3. Government representatives and non‐state actors must respect Maya customary rules, including deliberative communication methods, when engaging Maya villages for any activity that will impact Maya territory. This includes, but is not limited to, seeking permission to enter village lands for the purpose of resource use or extraction, or to gain access to cultural sites. Preliminary information related to any of the foregoing must be provided at the earliest time possible.
  1. Maya people reserve the right not to accept any policy initiative, legislative proposal, administrative measure, development, economic project or other action that contravenes this consultation framework.

    Section II


  2. Prior to taking any action that could affect the well‐being of the Maya people; the government of Belize, its agencies or non‐state entities must inform the Executive Committee of the Toledo Alcaldes Association (TAA). The Executive Committee convenes an Alcaldes assembly with the Alcaldes from all of the Maya villages.
  1. If the action of government or a non‐state entity may only affect a particular Maya village, initial contact can be made through the Alcalde of that village. The Alcalde is empowered to convene a village meeting to pass on the information. The Alcalde will inform the TAA and the village Chairman.
  2. Initial contact in itself does not, in any manner, constitute consultation. It is only meant to inform the Maya people of an impending action likely to affect them and to seek their permission to formally engage in the process of meaningful consultation. Provision of information is a prerequisite to consultation, but is not in and of itself consultation.
  3. All correspondence made to the TAA President or individual Alcaldes in appropriate cases, with respect to the initial request to consult, must be expressed in writing in the language directed by the TAA.
  4. In order for the TAA to fully comprehend the purpose of the contact, the initial communication should include the following: a full description of the action or project being proposed, including its scope, timelines and duration; reports of environmental, social and cultural impacts; clear analysis of the risks and benefits to the affected Maya villages; a description of proponents of the action or project; and identification of the contact person who will liaise with the TAA.
  5. After receipt of the request to consult, the TAA shall inform the proponent if the request is accepted and, together with the proponent, develop a mutually acceptable consultation schedule.

12. The Maya participants in the consultation process shall be reimbursed for their reasonable costs arising from the logistics of facilitating the decision to formally engage with the proponent in a consultation process.

Section III


  1. Any notice of meetings relating to the request to consult, consultations, negotiations, or other material events, must be given at least 21 calendar days in advance. Longer notice periods are preferable, especially for major developments or initiatives. This is to allow the TAA or the Alcaldes time to plan for the meeting, manage the logistics of attendance, and seek their own independent technical or legal assistance where necessary.

    Section IV


  2. Preliminary meetings or consultations must be held at the community center or where not available at a public place where transparency can be guaranteed and attendance and participation by members of the community is not inhibited by reason of the location of the venue.
  3. The TAA may exercise its discretion to hold meetings, consultations, or negotiations at any other venue, as long as the interests of the Maya people are not in any way jeopardized by doing so.page7image12008

Section V


  1. The entire consultation process must be in accordance with Maya customary practices, respect Maya traditional methods of decision‐making, and must be guided by the principle of free prior and informed consent.
  2. To ensure effective and informed participation in the consultation and negotiation process, the Maya people shall have an unqualified right to seek independent technical assistance and retain legal counsel of their choice. They shall have the right to have such freely chosen technical and legal advisers participate throughout the entire process of consultation or negotiation.
  3. The proponent shall bear the costs incurred by the TAA for seeking independent technical assistance, legal advice or any other reasonable expenses necessary to facilitate an effective consultation process.

19. Prior to the commencement of consultation or negotiation, the proponent must communicate to the TAA in writing the particulars of any official or representative designated to consult or negotiate with the Maya people, as well as indicate the nature of the official’s or representative’s authority to make decisions on behalf of the proponent.

20. The process of consultation and negotiation shall be transparent, fair and free from intimidation or coercion. All oral parts of the consultation shall be translated into the Maya language or languages of the participants, and core informational documents should either be translated into the appropriate Maya language(s) or additional time shall be provided during the consultation process for them to be interpreted aloud. During the consultation, or until the Maya people give their consent, the proponent must not take any action or engage in any activity that affects the value, use or enjoyment of the lands, territories, natural resources or well‐being of the Maya people. Breaching this protocol may result in the TAA’s disengagement from further consultation or negotiation.

Section VI

“Se komonil”


  1. The entire consultation and negotiation process must incorporate sufficient time to accommodate Maya traditional decision‐making practices.
  2. The TAA or Alcaldes, in appropriate cases, shall not be expected to make a decision at the end of a consultation or negotiation meeting unless the outcome of such deliberations has gone through a village meeting, “se komonil”.

24. Decisions made on behalf of the Maya people shall be taken at the village meeting convened by the Alcalde in accordance with the following procedures:

(i) The quorum for a village meeting to make decisions is one half of the villagers in the district who are sixteen years of age or over. A village meeting may convene with fewer participants than the quorum, but no decisions can be made unless the quorum is met.

(ii) All decisions taken at a village meeting shall be arrived at by a majority of the villagers who are present and voting.

(iii) Villagers who are below the age of sixteen shall not be able to vote at village meetings.

(iv) Notwithstanding subsections (i) and (ii), any decision to alienate lands held by customary title shall require the affirmative vote of at least three quarters of all villagers in the district sixteen years of age or over.

  1. Where an action is likely to affect the interest and well‐being of the Maya people as a whole, the General Assembly of the TAA is the bona fide authority for decision making. The individual Alcaldes will register their vote on an issue based on the directive of the village meeting on that specific issue. Following deliberations, the TAA executive body will record the decision of the assembly in writing and communicate it to the proponent.
  2. Where an action is likely to affect the interest or well‐being of a particular Maya village, decisions are made through the procedure set out in paragraph 24, at a village meeting convened by the village Alcalde. The collective decision of the village will be recorded in writing. The Alcalde will inform the TAA of the outcome before communicating with the proponent so that the TAA may: respond to inquiries about the project from other villagers or third parties; inform the affected village of anything that may affect the proposal, including the rights of other villages; or advise other villages that may be affected by the project.
  3. The right of the Maya people to make decisions in accordance with traditional decision making systems shall include the right to either grant or withhold consent, or otherwise withdraw their participation in the process of consultation or negotiation if it is determined that the process lacks good faith.
  4. Informed consent, where given by the Maya people, shall be indicated in writing by a signed agreement between the TAA or the particular village, and the proponent, stating clearly all the conditions upon which the consent is based.

    Section VII


  5. To ensure that a proposed action does not deny the Maya people of their livelihood, traditional way of life,and customary practices, a detailed study and transparent analysis of the environmental, social, cultural, and economic impacts that a proposed action may have on affected Maya people must be conducted by an independent and technically competent professional.
  1. The environmental, social, cultural, and economic impact (ESCEI) assessments should be integrated into a single detailed document, written in plain language in order to facilitate adequate understanding of the entire process by the Maya people.
  2. The ESCEI assessments are to be presented in the language(s) understood by the affected Maya people.
  3. The ESCEI assessments themselves should be prepared in consultation with, and with the effective participation of the Maya people.
  4. The proponent shall be responsible for the technical and legal expenses, and other logistical costs incurred by the Maya people to ensure their effective participation at all stages of assessing the environmental, socio‐economic and, cultural impacts of a proposed action or activity on their villages.
  5. The consultation process must sufficiently address, amongst other things, effective measures necessary to mitigate any adverse impacts on the environmental, socio‐ economic, and cultural life of the affected Maya people, as well as determine the fair compensation for any damages that may result, including how payments of such damages will be made.
  6. Where relocation or resettlement becomes absolutely necessary as part of a mitigation measure, the ESCEI assessment report must also include a clear Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) and Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP) of the affected villages.
  7. Maya people must be consulted with regard to any process for drawing up a RAP or LRP. A proposed RAP or LRP must indicate:page11image14800
  1. Timelines for implementation of the plan; and
  2. A written declaration signed by the proponent or by an entity designated by the proponent, accepting full responsibility for the cost of implementing the RAP or LRP; and
  3. Determination of adequate compensation or replacement rates (whichever is greater), for damages resulting in the loss of livelihood, cultural and spiritual practices, traditional environmental attachments, crops and game, infrastructure, and social ways of life.

37. The ESCEI assessments shall include a plan for the establishment of an ESCEI management or monitoring team, which shall include Mayan representatives or any other proxy independently appointed by the Maya people.

Section VIII


  1. Maya people have the right to lands, territories and resources which they traditionally own, occupy and otherwise use, and shall be entitled to participate in the fair and equitable benefit sharing of such lands, territories and resources.
  2. Where a proposed action involves, whether directly or by implication, any economic exploitation of Mayan lands, territories or resources, the consultation and negotiation process shall incorporate provision for the participation of the Maya people in the benefits derived from such ventures.
  3. Proposals for benefit sharing plans should respect the Maya norm of economic equity and the collective stake villagers have in village resources. While provision may be made for particular hardships experienced by individual villagers or families as a result of the project, the general principle of all benefit sharing proposals should be collective or egalitarian distribution, including where benefits take the form of employment. No benefit sharing proposal may provide for any benefits accruing to village leaders (Alcaldes, Chairmen or council) by virtue of their office.
  1. Any benefit sharing provision shall include a transparent mechanism for determining the benefits due, the recipients (some benefits may accrue to individuals, others to villages collectively) as well as the schedule for such disbursement.

    Section IX


  2. The consultation and negotiation process regarding a proposed action shall not be taken as conclusive until all the concerns of the Maya people have been resolved, and an agreement with the proponent, based on mutually agreed terms, has been signed or the TAA or village has agreed to allow certain activities while consultation and negotiation on other or subsequent activities continues. In such cases, consent to such initial activities does not imply or give rise to expectations of consent to subsequent or other activities for which consent is still pending.
  3. Under no circumstances shall it be presumed that the Maya people have given their informed consent with regard to any proposed action affecting their land, territories and resources, unless;
    1. The procedure for issuing such consent has been subjected to traditional Maya decision making processes;
    2. The consent is expressed in a written agreement signed by the proponent and TAA or Village Alcalde, in appropriate cases, stating clearly all the conditions



US Capital Energy Ignores Belize’s Supreme Court

In April 2014, Belize’s Supreme Court ruled that the issuance of permits for oil drilling in Sarstoon-Temash National Park was irrational, unreasonable, and a breach of the UNDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The lawsuit was filed by the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, along with four Mayan communities, to stop US Capital Energy from drilling on their territories. US Capital Energy is refusing to comply with the ruling. According to a company attorney, “the permits and licenses that were granted to US Capital are legitimate, even though they were not granted with any consent of the Mayan people. So, if they are good then US Capital, in my view, is allowed by this judgment to continue their work.”

This response is shortsighted, especially given that the company’s drilling permits expire at the end of this month. If the company pursues an extension of the permits, it will probably face sustained resistance from Mayan communities, bolstered by the legal authority of the Supreme Court. By openly eschewing both the court’s legitimacy and Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, the company could be creating insurmountable hurdles to profitable resource extraction in Belize.

Sources: Channel 5 Belize


Kaqchikel Leader Killed in Guatemala


Reposted from Cultural Survival

Juan de Leon Tuyuc Velasquez (Kaqchikel Maya), a former guerrilla commander during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war, was killed on January 15, 2014 in Solola by unknown gunmen. Velasquez is the brother of Rosalinda Tuyuc, founder of National Association of Guatemalan Widows (CONAVIGUA), a leading human rights organization representing Indigenous women whose husbands died in the civil war.

In June 1982, the Guatemalan Army kidnapped and murdered their father, Francisco Tuyuc. In 1985, Rosalinda Tuyuc’s husband suffered the same fate. In 1994, she founded (CONAVIGUA). Rosalinda Tuyuc was elected as a Congressional deputy in 1995, elected from the national list of the New Guatemala Democratic Front, and served as Vice President of Congress during that period. In 1994, she was decorated by the French Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur for her humanitarian activities.

Juan de Leon worked tirelessly for the transformation of social inequality and injustice that greatly affects Mayan communities. His work focused on promoting the active participation of Mayan women and men in addressing the problem of access to land in Guatemala. Some speculate that the increasing political repression in Guatemala is impacting the Tuyuc Velasquez family, who are known for their work in defense of human rights in Guatemala. On January 3, 2013, Vincent Tuyuc Velasquez, leader and educator, brother of Juan and Rosalina, was also brutally murdered and the crime remains unsolved.

“The murder of Maya and Xinka leaders like Juan de León, his brother Vicente, Santos Ajau Suret , Silverio Vincent , Orlando Boror Zet , Germán Antonio Curup , Rigoberto Tezén Chuy, Carlos Antonio Mendoza Hernández , José Tabico , Silverio Vicente, Marcos Ucelo Incarnation, Andrés Francisco Miguel , among others, shows that structural racism and militarism are not problems of the past. It is alarming that the killing of historical and contemporary leaders is increasing, the brutality with which they are killed is a clear message that seeks to silence critics who question and operate against the established order. It is undeniable that these crimes are further weakening democratic institutions in Guatemala. It is through systematic intimidation, harassment, and the cowardly assassination of leaders that injustices and social inequalities in this country will be transformed. In my view, in this context of impunity and insecurity, it is urgent that we join efforts to demand that the government of Guatemala comply with its obligation to protect our lives,” wrote FRANCISCA GóMEZ GRIJALVAreporter in Prensa Libre.

“Again my heart fills with sadness. My brother Juan de Leon Tuyuc Velasquez has died after being vilely murdered in Solola, again the family is in mourning, again my family suffers the snatching away of a loved one,” Rosalinda Tuyuc wrote on Facebook.

(Photo from: