Guatemalan Partner Organizations

Comité Campesino del Altiplano / Highlands’ Committee of Small Scale Farmers (CCDA)

More info here.

The CCDA originated in March 1982, during the worst period of the Guatemalan Internal Armed Conflict, in San Martín Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Like other social organizations, many of its members were kidnapped, killed, or sent into exile by the Guatemalan government, which targeted social and human rights movements. 

Today, the CCDA is an organization that fights to improve the living conditions of Indigenous farmers by seeking change in the social, economic and political spheres, as well as respect for cultures, ethnicities, languages, traditions and territories.  In this manner, the CCDA fights against inequality and poverty. They also place political activism at the center of their activities.

The CCDA has five main tenets of their work. They support families and communities in subsistence farming with patio and community gardens, as well as small-scale fish farming. Excess products are then sold in local markets to provide an income for families. On a larger scale, the CCDA supports local small-scale coffee farmers to access international markets for the sale of their products at a fair price. They have also commercialized honey and macadamia nuts for local markets. In addition, the CCDA has a community tourism branch of the organization, which encourages sustainable eco-friendly tourism around Lake Atitlan. 

Another important branch of the CCDA’s work is access to land. In a country where there is extreme inequality in access to land, the CCDA supports campesinos (peasant farmers) to recuperate ancestral lands or gain access to land through state entities or as repayment for work. As part of this work, the CCDA also supports community leaders, especially in the area of Alta Verapaz, who face criminalization for this work. 

Finally, the CCDA includes women and gender as a key tenet of their work. The organization facilitates workshops and learning spaces for women, with a focus on building awareness of women’s rights, education and political participation. 

BTS has worked with the CCDA since 2000 in developing a fair-trade coffee exportation relationship, through Just Us!  Today, the CCDA markets its coffee, Café Justicia throughout Canada, parts of the USA and Europe. In Guatemala, this translates into hundreds of families benefiting from higher prices that fair trade guarantees, organic compost for future crops and the development of a CCDA scholarship program from coffee proceeds for children of small coffee producers. BTS also has provided accompaniment to the CCDA and community members affected by land evictions and criminalization.

Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura / Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP)

More info here.

The Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) is a non-profit organization based in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. It was founded in 2000 by a group of local people concerned by the serious environmental, social and cultural problems affecting the nation. They established an ecological education center to promote permaculture techniques, local biodiversity conservation, production of organic food, and a seed bank that strives to reconstruct the Mayan seed heritage. 

IMAP develops the practical skills and awareness needed to ensure food sovereignty, community development and the preservation of biodiversity and ancestral knowledge.  They seek to improve food security and family nutrition by promoting integrated permaculture systems for food production, with a focus on native and heritage plans. They also raise awareness amongst youth regarding the value of agriculture, increase access to permaculture education and resources so that individuals and communities can meet their own basic needs, and promote native seeds and the conservation of local ecosystems. IMAP recognizes their genetic value, cultural importance, and their potential for enhancing quality of life and well-being.

BTS has worked with IMAP through our internship program, fundraising, and participation on speaking tours to Canada, as well as visits during delegations to Guatemala.

Fundación Nueva Esperanza / New Hope Foundation (FNE)

More info here.

In 1996, Jesus Tecu Osorio, recipient of the  2010 Human Rights First  Baldwin Medal, along with other survivors of the Rio Negro massacre, founded the Fundacion Nueva Esperanza (New Hope Foundation) with funds received from the Reebok Human Rights Award. It originally offered educational support (scholarships, computer training and tutoring) to Maya-Achi youth whose parents were victims or survivors of the 1980s genocide, with the aim of contributing to the construction of a just and democratic state. In 2003 the Fundacion opened the New Hope Secondary School to offer educational opportunities for youth affected by the violence and to facilitate occupational, personal, social, and cultural programs designed to overcome causes and effects of the violence. 

The FNE offers a culturally relevant bilingual education junior high school program for youth centered around local Maya Achi’ culture.  The institute supports youth from throughout the municipality of Rabinal, to become engaged in the construction of an intercultural, just and vibrant community through involvement in municipal politics as well as the pursuit of solutions for a better future based on justice, historical truth, and participatory democracy.  The FNE considers that a quality education is the only way to combat intolerance, construct real peace in Guatemala, and better the quality of life in Rabinal where many survivors of the genocide’s violencee still live in extreme poverty. An integral aspect of the school is their participatory learning approach, which teaches students practical and sustainable farming techniques. 

BTS has worked with the FNE through establishing specific partnerships between Maritimes committees, visits from Canadian delegations, and the accompaniment of interns and cooperants. BTS members were also integral in the construction of the school and the dormitories for rural students. 

Asociación Bufete Jurídico Popular / Community Legal Clinic (ABJP)

More info here.

The Legal Clinic was established in 1999 by survivors of the Rio Negro Massacre and its original legal objective was the fulfilment of the 1996 Peace Accords by facilitating access of victims of genocide and crimes against humanity to national and international legal systems, as well as the National Restitution Commission. This work continues today through national and international channels. Because of the Clinic’s awareness of family violence and the lack of response to this issue in the legal system and the community, in late 2006 it opened the Office of the Achi Woman to educate women on their legal rights and to respond to issues of family violence, including education within the community and the legal system. In 2012, it opened a new office in Rabinal to better serve its clients.  

The ABJP plays an important role in the community of Rabinal, providing advice, accompaniment, legal and conflict mediation services in three main areas. In the area of Human Rights, the ABJP is currently bringing forward the cases of genocide and crimes against humanity both in Guatemalan courts and the Interamerican Commission and Interamerican Court of Human Rights, stemming from crimes committed during the Internal Armed Conflict. In the area of Land Conflicts, the ABJP is supporting communities in Baja Verapaz to gain community titles to ancestral land, as well as give support for communities in conflict with local plantation owners. Finally, in the Achi Women’s Office, the organization supports women suffering from domestic violence, as well as the acquiring and fulfilment of child support. 

BTS has worked with the ABJP via the accompaniment of interns and cooperants over many years.  We have provided support and accompaniment to ongoing transitional justice cases handled by the clinic, and have also hosted speaking tours across the Maritimes with ABJP staff.

Parlamento del Pueblo Xinka de Guatemala / Xinka Parliament (PAPXIGUA) 

Consolidated in the year 2004 to reclaim their individual and collective rights, the Xinka Parliament promotes consensus and unity to achieve full respect of social, economic, political, and cultural rights of the Xinka People of Guatemala, in the context of the multiethnic, pluricultural, and multilingual nation.  They provide accompaniment to the various processes and struggles of the original Xinka Peoples related to land and the legal certainty over its tenancy. The Parliament works to promote the participation of women and youth to strengthen their leadership, implementing processes of learning related to advocacy and opening spaces for decision making.

Since the approval of the exploration licence for the Escobal mine in 2013, Xinka territories have been the site of continued human rights violations including threats, intimidation, criminalization, violent attacks and murder associated with opposition to the project.  As the legitimate authority of the Xinka People, PAPXIGUA has been providing support to communities and leaders negatively impacted as a result of the project.

BTS has provided accompaniment and support to the PAPXIGUA since 2013 through advocacy, delegations, urgent actions, speaking tours, and through accompaniment by human rights cooperants.

Comisión Diocesana de Defensa de la Naturaleza / Diocesan Commission for the Defense of Nature (CODIDENA)

The Diocesan Commission for the Defense of Nature (CODIDENA) works to accompany the communities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima and contributes to the construction of sustainable models of human ecology through advocacy, the promotion and defense of human dignity, and the implementation of processes for the care and protection of nature.  To this end, CODIDENA works to promote, defend, and accompany communities by empowering leadership in the defense of life and human dignity.

CODIDENA provides ongoing support to communities impacted by Canadian mining operations around the Escobal mine. 

BTS provides accompaniment and support to CODIDENA in their mission and we have collaborated with them through advocacy, delegations, speaking tours, community processes in relation to land defense and accompaniment, including through the cooperant program.