Reflections on the Dialogues on Human Rights in Guatemala Tour with Jordán Rodas, former Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala.
August 8, 2023 – To address the democratic and human rights crisis that has affected Guatemala for several years, Alianza Americas, a network of 57 civil society organizations in the United States—in collaboration with its member organizations Asociación Guatemaltecos Sin Fronteras (Association of Guatemalans without Borders), Wind of the Spirit, Hijos de Livingston (Children of Livingston), Centro Romero and Chicago Religious Leadership Network—developed the tour titled, “Dialogues on Human Rights in Guatemala”. The tour, which took place July 24-31, was led by Jordán Rodas, former Human Rights Ombudsman in Guatemala, with the participation of Thelma Aldana, former Attorney General of Guatemala, and Juan Francisco Sandoval, former Special Prosecutor against impunity in Guatemala.
The tour, which took place in several key locations such as Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Chicago, sought to inform the public about the current situation in Guatemala and raise awareness about the root causes that have led many people to leave their homeland and the difficulties they face when trying to return.
One of the highlights of the tour was the direct participation of human rights leaders and defenders who, unfortunately, are in exile due to their tireless work in the search for justice and equity in Guatemala. Jordán Rodas, Thelma Aldana, and Juan Francisco Sandoval shared their testimonies and experience about the struggles they faced and the challenges that persist in the Central American country. Their stories served as a powerful reminder of the urgent need to address human rights violations and the lack of democracy in the region. Among these messages was a strong criticism of the current government of Alejandro Giammattei. The three former justice officials also discussed the results of the recent elections as the Guatemalan people’s clear rejection of the “pact of the corrupt”, a coalition of politicians, legislators, and businessmen accused of perpetuating impunity in the country. Rodas singles out the business sector in particular as the instigators behind the politicians, accusing them of exercising inordinate control over Guatemala as if it were their property.
Press conferences were held through the duration of the tour that attracted the attention of media and opinion leaders, providing an invaluable platform to spread the message about the situation in Guatemala. These events not only helped raise awareness but also advocated for concrete measures, such as the designation of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which would provide immigration relief to Guatemalans in the United States with an irregular migratory status.
“The role of Guatemalan migrants living in the United States is fundamental for developing our fragile democracy in Guatemala through permanent dialogue with their families and friends so that they become involved with the ongoing events in the national territory and not only to vote every four years. People in Guatemala demand accountability from local, departmental, and national authorities and those here in the U.S. can sensitize decision-makers in Congress, the Senate, and at the central government level on how important it is that TPS be granted,” said Jordán Rodas in one of the meetings.