Friday, March 02, 2007

Un Encuentro de Mujeres Guatemaltecas

Media Alert
February 28, 2007

Chapinas Unidas: Guatemalan Social Network for Justice and Peace hosts “Rompiendo el Silencio-Breaking the Silence” at Mercado La Paloma

Theme: A gathering of Guatemalan women to give testimony, inform and discuss the violence and murders against women in Guatemala.

When? Saturday, March 3rd, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.

Where? Mercado La Paloma at 3655 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Who? Chapinas Unidas: Guatemalan Social Network for Justice and Peace, Mujeres Iniciando en America, Red Para la Paz y el Desarollo, Mujeres Abriendo Camino, y Somos Seres Humanos.

What? Chapinas Unidas hosts our first of event to discuss the violence and murders that is affecting women of all ages, social class, and ethnic background in Guatemala. Presenters for this afternoon of information sharing and discussion will include:

*Claudia Hernandez Cruz, is a survivor from Guatemala. Born in Nicaragua from Guatemalan refugee parents during the civil war, she is an outspoken woman fighting and defending the rights of young women in Guatemala. Claudia began to organize with other women at the age of fifteen. Claudia, along with her mother’s support founded Sobrevivientes, which initially began in 2001 as a youth justice center for victims of sexual violence. In 2003 Claudia's mother, recognized the need to focus on the eradication of violence towards women in Guatemala and to provide access to justice for these women-victims and their survivors. The group has been pivotal in identifying the systemic violence towards women in Guatemala as an aftermath of 50 years of militarism in their country.

*Lucia Munoz, founder of "Mujeres Iniciando en Las Américas (MIA)" a campaign against gender bias and domestic violence in Guatemala. Their goals are to prosecute rapes and murders of women in Guatemala, including old cases; make the Guatemalan government honor peace accords to eliminate discrimination against women; press for judicial reform in Guatemala; obtain reparations and fair compensations for victim-families; create domestic violence intervention and prevention education in Guatemala; and improve economic and social conditions for Guatemalan women.

*Azalea Ryckman, Executive Director of *Hecho A Mano* (the culture store), specializes in handmade Mayan arts and crafts from Guatemala. *Hecho A Mano* is located in Mercado La Paloma, a collective of Central American services and boutiques who are hosting this panel discussion. Azalea has also been an activist on the issues in Guatemala through her contacts both here and in Guatemala. She also hosts a radio program on KPFK called Mujeres Abriendo Camino, which is dedicated to the current plight of the women in Guatemala.

*Maria Guardado, a Salvadoran political refugee, in her late 60's, now living in Los Angeles since 1983 and the subject of a 2001 documentary film entitled "Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story". The film recounts her story, as a Salvadoran political activist, where she was kidnapped and brutally tortured by CIA-assisted death squads. This documentary also records her first return to El Salvador in twenty years where she confronts her past and draws her inspiration for her tireless struggle for social justice.

Why? In 1996, Guatemalan Peace Accords were signed after a 36 year long civil war. This war cultivated a strong level of violence in Guatemala. During the war, a genocideb occurred where over 200,000 indigenous Mayas were killed. Women suffered at a greater level due to rape, kidnapping, losing husbands, and children during the war. Women still continue to be attacked because of their gender today. Since 2000, over 2,800 women from all ages have been murdered. Last year in 2006, 590 women were murdered. In 2007 for both the month of January and February there have been 90 women who have been murdered already. The violence against women continues while the government fails to recognize the femicide occurring in Guatemala. Currently in the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S. Congress awaits H.R.100, a resolution written by California Congresswoman Hilda Solis which condemns the murders in Guatemala as well putting pressure on the Guatemalan government to investigate the crimes. Join us in creating tidal waves of awareness about the femicide occurring in Guatemala so that we can help bring justice and peace to women in Central America.

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