National Coordinator of Widows of Guatemala (CONAVIGUA)October 8, 2012
From January to December 2011, the “Rebuilding the Social Fabric with Justice and Dignity” project implemented by CONAVIGUA had much progress and success. With the contribution of Global Ministries, the project has contributed to the fulfillment of the Peace Accords in Guatemala, specifically the recommendations of the Commission for Historical Clarification, with actions to exhumations and burials of victims, psychosocial support to relatives, research and legal advice in cases of violations of human rights, collective rights of indigenous peoples (especially Mayan women), and the struggle against impunity and promotion of justice in order to dignify the victims of armed conflict to rebuild the Guatemalan social fabric.
There was much progress in the location of clandestine cemeteries, the exhumation and burials of victims. The authorization of nine exhumations were achieved and 13 victims were recovered (seven men, five women, and one child) in the communities covered by the project. Additionally, 13 victims who were victims of armed conflict were successfully buried. Relatives of victims were morally and spiritually strengthened by mental health services provided by CONAVIGUA, who offered a professional psychologist who provided psychosocial support through CONAVIGUA’s many activities. There were 102 home visits conducted for surviving family members in the communities. Also, surviving families were accompanied for the translations from indigenous languages into Spanish of five cases to the Public Prosecutor of Nebaj. Other services provided were counseling, family meetings, and mental health workshops concerning self-care techniques. There were psychological group meetings for relatives of victims of armed conflicts for the El Triunfo Champerico community, implementing therapeutic techniques and use of medicinal plants to improve their health.
CONAVIGUA had many accomplishments in its legal area in this time period as well. Legal support and advice was given for five individual cases. Collaboration with other offices and organizations was very strong. Issues which were focused on included promoting human rights for victims of armed conflict in various communities, construction of houses in the community of El Adelanto Sololá, acknowledgement of Mayan women’s suffering by the Court of Spain, paternity acknowledgment, and land disputes.
For the next period CONAVIGUA will continue to contribute to the rectification of human rights violations committed in Guatemala during the internal armed conflict, in terms of the exhumations, in order to restore the dignity of loved ones who are still missing and buried in mass graves. Also, CONAVIGUA continues to denounce violations of the collective rights of the Mayan community, Mayan women in particular. The commitments under the Peace Agreement are yet to be fulfilled, which creates uncertainty and frustrations in the affected population in the indigenous communities that were most affected by the war in Guatemala.
Finally, CONAVIGUA continues to contribute to the psychological rehabilitation of families through home visits, retreats, meetings, and intergroup encounters between communities, where families can share their experiences and can learn about other experiences of other communities that also were affected by the civil war in the country.
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