What is a GHRC Delegation?
The Guatemala Human Rights Commission usually leads a delegation to Guatemala each year. Among these are delegations of experts who investigate the human rights situation, as GHRC undertook in 2018, a trip which resulted in pressure from U.S. Congress to protect human rights. Delegations that are open to the public often are eight-day trips that provide an immersion experience to help participants understand the complex human rights challenges in Guatemala. Trips focus on human rights defenders, violence against women, and root causes of migration. GHRC delegates meet with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as community leaders, both in the capital and indigenous communities.
For participants, delegations are often intense and transformative experiences that provide the knowledge and inspiration to become advocates for Guatemala when they return home. The delegations also help to raise the profile of the Guatemalan survivors, activists, advocates and NGOs we meet with, and serve as a venue to share important information with the international community that leads to future collaboration and increased solidarity.
GHRC’s open August delegation — focused on violence against women and women human rights defenders — has been an annual trip since 2005, providing a unique opportunity for US victims’ rights advocates and concerned citizens to better understand the high rates of brutal violence in Guatemala. At the same time, participants also have the opportunity to hear from the nation’s leading women’s rights activists who, in spite of the challenges they face, continue to work for an end to gender violence. The trip includes meetings in Guatemala City and visits to indigenous women’s groups in other parts of the country. In the past, delegations have traveled to Xela and surrounding communities, Rabinal, El Estor, Puerto Barrios, and Santa María Xalapán.
- Read a blog post by Vanessa Kritzer at the Latin America Working Group, who participated in 2011.
- Virginia Commonwealth University professor and 2009 delegate Karen Rotabi put together an online photo-journal and published an article about her experience.
- Read the blog of another 2009 delegate, Janett Forte, of VCU’s institute for Women’s Health.
GHRC has also partnered with American University’s Alternative Break program to lead a winter delegation focused on human rights defenders, the internal conflict, and current threats to indigenous land rights. This delegation travels to Guatemala City, Rio Negro, Rabinal, and San Juan Sacatepéquez (a community currently fighting a cement project). Read more about American University’s Alternative Spring Break delegation in January 2013.
GHRC can also lead more specialized delegations for university groups, congregations, or professionals who are interested in learning about a specific topic relating to human rights in Guatemala. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*Please note that groups or institutions must recruit their own participants.
An Example of a Past Delegation
Defensoras: Guatemalan Women Defending Land, Justice and Human Rights
JULY 30 – AUGUST 7, 2016
GHRC’s open August delegation met with leaders on the front lines of struggles to defend land and the environment, promote women’s rights, and push for justice for crimes of the past. We spoke with a diverse group of women, including representatives of civil society, survivors of violence and community leaders.
“The program was fantastic and the directors did an excellent job on keeping us engaged and energized.”“It was an amazing experience. If you feel strongly about everyone being treated with dignity and justice and want to help others struggling for human rights, this is a great experience for you.”“The delegation was a transformative opportunity to learn from activists and organizations defending their rights. What really inspired me was the warmth and courage of the women we met.”“I was expecting to feel a bit insecure after all the warnings about crime and violence. Instead, I felt totally safe from the first day to the last. I didn’t realize how much progress had already been made by women to better the lives of their communities.” Read a reflection from past participant Liz Clark, who participated in a different past delegation (page 6).