Thinking through solidarity organizing, with an eye to how we can better live the change, as well as how we often slip in to colonial patterns when working together across distance and difference. Written from the perspective of a long time US and now Canada based international solidarity activist turned political geographer.
Jun 12, 2009
memory on the streets
straight from the blog mi mundo, cool pics of a great action by one of the all around best groups to learn from (ojo que HIJ@S is not just in Guate but lots of different countries). Now THAT is some wheatpasting!
Next June, ten years will have passed since the HIJOS Collective exploded onto Guatemalan society (HIJOS means “children” in Spanish and it is an acronym for: Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice, against Forgetfulness and Silence). Through public art, conscience-seeking events and political demonstrations, HIJOS has been seeking truth, justice and the continuance of historical memory with relation to the crimes against humanity committed by the Guatemalan State during its 36-year civil war.
Among its many activities, HIJOS periodically carries out poster campaigns in open spaces, particularly in Guatemala City.
The photographs and texts from HIJOS’ postings rarely fail to capture the attention of passerbyers.
Wendy Mendez (right), one of HIJOS’ founding members, shares with us the reasons behind such activities as well as HIJOS’ mission and overall motivation:
Today, March 8th, celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day, also marks 25 years since my mother, Luz Haydee Mendez, was abducted, tortured, and disappeared by the G2 military intelligence agency. This was Guatemala City in 1984. I can’t help but feel a wide range of emotions. Some are anger and uncertainty, but above all hope prevails as I continue my path in search of justice for her and all the women disappeared and massacred.
Justice is a word that we have come to know due to its absence in our lives. It is not fair that my mother, along with many other mothers, was forcibly abducted and disappeared. It is not fair that in our families, as in many other Guatemalan households, a massive void remains where instead there should be a person who can be infinitely trusted in.
It is not fair that those who carried out such crimes remain free. It is not fair that those who ordered the atrocities now occupy political decision-making and influential power posts in our government and society.
It is not fair that my three-year old son has to grow up without a grandmother. It is not fair that my old lady never knew what it was like to be a grandma. It is not fair that 25 years have gone by since that tragic day and I still feel deep sorrow, fear, anguish, frustration, and many other emotions that I do not know what to call.
Today we live within a socio-political context where our authorities use the faces, names and memory of our fallen in order to cover up the forced evictions and repression carried out against peasant farmers who protect our natural resources. A context where our authorities don’t turn in the military campaign archives that support the genocide cases as they have been ordered to do. A context where our authorities mock war survivors and their communities, as they do not recognize the authenticity of repressive documents such as the Military Diary. The light at the end of the justice tunnel is a hard one to see.
Several have been the activities that our collective has spearheaded while seeking dignity for the memory of our men, women, and children who were victims of state terrorism. We have carried out demonstrations in front of judicial courts and homes of those responsible for genocide, marched through streets and avenues, denounced and displayed our historic memory on public murals, rescued testimonies about the lives and struggles of former guerrillas.
Yet, something we have not been able to feel in flesh has been a longed-for JUSTICE.
The 25th anniversary of the forced disappearance of Luz Haydee Mendez calls for a reflection on justice and how to achieve it. This is the basis for our commemorative public poster campaign.
Guatemala of the New Resistance, March 8, 2009. FOR ALL THOSE WHO WERE DISAPPEARED NEITHER FORGET, NOR FORGIVE.