GHRC-header-2Since 1987, the Voiceless Speak Fund has provided direct assistance to Guatemalans raising awareness about the human rights situation in Guatemala or organizing in their communities in the US to defend the rights of Guatemalans living here.

GHRC is excited to announce the 2014 recipients of our Voicelss Speak Fund grant program:

Top: Leobardo Ajtzalam works on his radio show; Bottom: The first annual Omaha Celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, organized by Luis Marcos

Zully Juarez
Zully became interested in human rights while growing up in Los Angeles, listening to stories about her family’s experiences of resistance during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala. Her project, named “From the Highlands to the City: Maya Youth’s Ways of Healing through the Arts,” is designed to teach Maya youth about human rights in Guatemala, and about Maya communities in the US. Zully has designed an 8-week program for 8-10 participants; each week will have a different theme, ranging from “Maya Histories” to “Human Rights.” She wants participants to be able to explore their cultural identities, learn about the importance of passing down ancestral knowledge about human rights in Guatemala, and engage in creative projects, such as storytelling, writing, and art.

Leobardo Ajtzalam
Leobardo — a recent immigrant and rising community leader — is interested in human rights, immigration and issues around mining in Guatemala. Leobardo is Maya K’iche,’ and began working in radio in his home town in Sololá, Guatemala to promote human rights and community development. Now, based out of New York, Leobardo produces a weekly radio program for Guatemalans living both in Guatemala and in the US. His program, called “Voices Without Borders,” discusses social justice issues, GHRC articles, and other similar topics and themes. Leobardo also plans to participate in social events and discussions about human rights, including a panel on mining in Guatemala and another on militarization.

Juanita Cabrera Lopez
Juanita is a Maya Mam woman from the department of Quetzaltenango, and comes from one of the largest and strongest Mayan nations in Guatemala. She advocates for human rights for indigenous peoples as a member of the Maya Mam Council and through the International Maya League. The International Mayan League, Juanita’s sponsoring organization, will arrange several gatherings in the US and Canada to respond to environmental and human rights concerns in Guatemala. Key leaders from Mayan immigrant communities, spiritual elders from Guatemala, and indigenous leaders will be brought together to speak and participate. Through this project, Juanita hopes to achieve three things: to broaden awareness of the current situation; to address unsustainable development practices and policies; and to provide a platform for indigenous peoples to lead in cultural-political advocacy and policy development. This proposal gives the Maya people a chance to be heard and speak for themselves about US and Canadian policies that affect their communities.

Luis Marcos

Luis is a member of the Comunidad Maya Pixam Ixim, a Mayan community organization based in Omaha, Nebraska. The group’s mission is to implement research based and community driven programs in the areas of health, education, arts and culture, and human rights in Omaha, Nebraska and Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Luis has also created an internet based radio program to promote human rights in Guatemala, which he hopes to expand this year. He also plans to organize a permanent committee for the Indigenous Nations Conference, a celebration that highlights the presence of First Nations Communities in Omaha and surrounding areas.

Concepcion Santay
Concepcion comes from El Quiche, Guatemala, and is a member of the Indigenous Council of the town of Cotzal — an organization founded in 2008 to pursue the peaceful defense of territory and natural resources, and respect for human rights. He is also a co-founder of the Ixil University, a three-year educational program that seeks to instruct students in Ixil values and respect for Maya territories and natural resources. Concepcion’s proposal includes a two-week speaking tour in Los Angeles and Southern California with the objective of raising awareness about human rights issues related to mega-projects in Guatemala, including the ties that the US has with these projects. Concepcion will give at least ten talks throughout California to students and faculty at universities, congregations at churches with large concentrations of Central American immigrants, and the general public. He hopes that a greater awareness of these mega-projects will ensure greater transparency, ethical practices, and respect for human and indigenous rights.

Josefina Gomez
Josefina has a long career advocating for human rights, the rights for Mayan self-determination and the rights of women. Josefina’s project will focus on hosting seminars and conferences in Texas on human rights issues, and on sending a fact-finding delegation to Guatemala. The target audience for her work includes students at universities in Houston, religious organizations, human rights and peace institutions, and the Guatemalan immigrant community. Josefina hopes that the seminars and conferences will help organize the immigrant community in Texas as participants learn more about what is happening in Guatemala as well as about their rights and responsibilities in the US.

Rogelia Cruz
Rogelia was born in Guatemala, but forced to live in exile in Mexico during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. She currently works as a social anthropologist based in Boston, MA, and has been involved with several different organizations in the area. Rogelia’s project focuses on providing information about the impact of deportations and useful legal strategies in cases of deportation. She also plans to create a resource guide for connecting the Guatemalan community in the greater Boston area.

Catarina Lorenzo

Catarina has worked with several organizations since she was a student, facilitating courses and workshops for young people on various subjects such as sexual education and reproductive health, self-esteem, environmental, political and civil participation, women rights, and the social conflicts and health problems produced by megaprojects. She is currently a member of English in Action and she volunteers as a co-coordinator with the Action Committee, located in Providece, RI. Catarina plans to facilitate 7 workshops with a variety of themes for about 75 people each. Although the majority of the participants will be Guatemalan, other people from different communities near Providence are also welcome to attend. The workshops will help increase knowledge around migrant rights, self-esteem, racism, discrimination and stereotypes, domestic violence, and several other topics.