Guatemala Solidarity Project
On January 9 th, the first GSP delegation of 2023 met in Guatemala City unsure of what the week would bring. The sixteen of us knew that we would be traveling to various communities to do health checks and to share music. We also expected we would be learning about how the communities were working to keep their land.
I’m Sarah Brown, and I was traveling with my husband and 2 of our teenage children on the delegation. We met fantastic people and saw the beauty of Guatemala. This will be a week we discuss and remember for a long time.
Our first stop was at a small village about 20 minutes from a rural town. It seemed like a regular Guatemalan community, but we soon learned that they didn’t have running water. Weekly, each household needed to have water delivered to their home or stored from the rain. In a place where the trees and vegetation were thriving, the bananas were plentiful and the honey sweet, the community is daily concerned with a lack of water. Crystal clear water that once flowed from a nearby spring is now
contaminated. They need their local government to prioritize not only their water, but also funding of the local healthcare clinic and the paving of their road.
The other 3 communities we visited were all fighting for the legal right to live on the land they had lived on for as long as their elders can remember their history. Each of these indigenous communities has been attacked and the members treated as criminals for living on land they have been working o
n and living on for much longer than the current landowners have held deeds. Because each of the communities has experienced illegal, forceful and often violent evictions in the last 5 or so years, they are rebuilding and are without water and electricity.
Several of the leaders have court hearings soon to see if they will be jailed or fined for their “illegal” actions. They have had good representation in the courtroom, but recently their lawyer passed away, so they are in search of an affordable lawyer who will take the cases, get caught up to speed quickly and represent them well. The conditions were rough during our week, as they are for the communities daily, but that was not the
main takeaway for me. Greed, power, cheap labor, division: these are our enemies. Community, interdependence, solidarity, collaboration are the strengths of people, of resistance.
I saw great strength during the week of the delegation.
Strength in the retelling of the stories.
Strength in the struggle.
Strength in community.
Strength to stand against the enemies, but more importantly…
Strength to stand for land, community, trees, equity, truth.
I can’t play an instrument or sing. I’m not a healthcare provider. I didn’t have a specific role on the delegation.
But, I can tell the stories we heard.
I can encourage. I can stand against greed, power, and slavery.
I can stand up for justice, equality, and community.
And, when we all stand together, we can
overcome our enemies!