I didn’t know what to expect when I applied to be a participant in the Development and Peace exposure trip to Guatemala. I went with uncertainties and questions about the prospects for sincere solidarity in the struggle for justice. I returned inspired by the many people I met and with a deeper appreciation their struggles, which I can sum up in three words: resistance, persistence and insistence.
Nuevo Horizonte is a community of ex-guerrilla combatants, linked to the Public Education Centre, a Development and Peace partner. While the root social-economic problems that forced them to take up arms in the first place continue, the weapons they use to resist have changed. They run alternative economic initiatives, such as co-ops, that support the well-being of the individuals of the community.
Forced off their land, the community members of San Basilio set up tents in the face of the army. Their persistence led them eventually to recuperate their lands, though they continually face threats.
The people’s insistence reminds me that the time to live, to change, to demand and to enjoy is now. Insistence is a significant part of the struggle for justice in Guatemala, because nothing will be given to people seeking justice without it.
These three words represent the invaluable lessons I learned from Guatemalan communities capable of transformation. Learning about their struggles has given me a deeper perspective on the struggles I face in my own life.
by Angela Mooney: Angela participated in a solidarity trip in 2005 and was a Development and Peace member at Carleton University, Ottawa, where she studied human rights and political science while working for justice on many fronts.