Laura Robinson is a BTS Cooperant based in Rabinal. She’s doing work with the Rabinal Legal Clinic and the New Hope Foundation.
I arrived in Rabinal seemingly at one of the busiest times of year as the annual fair was beginning. Everyday the streets filled with more and more vendors of foods, clothes, and everything you could imagine, including fair rides. It became progressively harder to navigate the main plaza on my daily walk as people came to the city from all over to sell and to enjoy the fair and parades. On either end of the city, ornate cofradías were installed of saints with near round the clock attention. Lots of food was made, traditional dances were shared, and prayers were said in front of the representations of the saints.
Even as the flurry of the fair faded, it seems as if our partners in Rabinal, the Rabinal Legal Clinic and the New Hope Foundation, are always busy!
The Rabinal Legal Clinic began 2020 running when one of the men who had been at large accused in the case of the 36 Maya Achí women was extradited from the United States. Initial proceedings began in the capital city January 31st. They were over within a week when the judge decided that Francisco Cuxum Alvarado would remain in preventative jail and the dates for the intermediary hearings were set within the near horizon of May 19th. The clinic is preparing for these further hearings, waiting for outstanding decisions to be taken in the case, and of course, balancing a variety of other cases such as land rights at the same time.
The New Hope Foundation is working on a variety of projects, including an app for local children to help in their Achí language learning that includes local stories and games. Since the school year began in January, they have also been engaged in many commemoration projects, including the commemoration of the Burning of the Spanish Embassy, the commemoration of the massacres in Xococ, and the upcoming commemorations of the massacres in Río Negro.
I am very excited to be in Rabinal working with people so driven on educating and ending impunity for intolerable violence and human rights abuses. I cannot wait to see what the next months of my placement bring!