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Copper Country GAP Mission Statement

The Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project
promotes human rights by responding to requests for international accompaniment from Guatemalan organizations and/or communities, and also by increasing awareness of Guatemala in the Copper Country of Michigan. brochure .pdf

Copper Country Call to Action

In 1996, peace accords formally ended Guatemala's brutal 36-year civil war. And yet since 2000, Guatemala has seen a rise in threats and violence against those working on issues of human rights, labor, impunity, cooperatives, indigenous rights, journalism and political opposition. CCGAP stands in solidarity with the many non-violent Guatemalan organizations, communities and activists in their continuing struggle for peace and justice in their homeland.

What is Human Rights Accompaniment? (from http://www.nisgua.org/G.A.P._text.htm)

Accompaniment creates a nonviolent response to the threats, harassment, and violence suffered by Guatemalan communities, survivors of the 36-year-long civil war, and grassroots organizations. To this end, NISGUA’s Guatemala Accompaniment Project (G.A.P.) places volunteers side-by-side with people in rural communities and with organizations in an effort to deter human rights violations. The presence of these volunteers, known as accompaniers, provides a measure of security and creates space for Guatemalan communities and groups to organize to defend their rights. Accompaniers monitor the situation and alert the international community to abuses. In the U.S., Sponsoring Communities are committed to immediately responding to abuses and providing ongoing support to accompaniers.

Why is Accompaniment Necessary?

In the early 1980s, the Guatemalan military swept through rural communities in a counter-insurgency campaign that uprooted more than a million people – many of whom fled to neighboring Mexico – and led to an estimated 200,000 dead and disappeared. According to the independent Historical Clarification Commission, these actions constituted a campaign of genocide against Guatemala’s indigenous population.

In 1993, organized groups of refugees began returning home and internally displaced groups started to come out of hiding. Two years later, G.A.P. formed in response to requests from them for trained international observers to accompany communities as they rebuilt after 36 years of violent civil war. In December of 1996 the Guatemalan Government and the National Revolutionary Unity of Guatemala (URNG) signed "firm and lasting" peace accords.

After the historic signing, communities began to struggle through the ongoing process of reorganizing and rebuilding. As the returned communities grew stronger the need for accompaniment diminished. At the same time, more individuals and organizations began stepping forward to denounce the atrocities of the past. Their actions in a deteriorating human rights climate, along with ongoing impunity in Guatemala, put them at a high level of risk for human rights violations. Recognizing this, members of communities and organizations involved in such efforts requested accompaniment and G.A.P. responded by gradually shifting our mandate to accompany them.

Who does G.A.P. Accompany?

Association for Justice and Reconciliation: In 2000 and 2001, a courageous group of war survivors brought legal cases to a Guatemalan court against former military dictators Efraín Ríos Montt and Romeo Lucas García on charges of genocide against the indigenous population. The witnesses in these cases formed the Association for Justice and Reconciliation and requested international accompaniment. G.A.P. has responded to this request with accompaniers in the Ixcán, Ixil, and Rabinal regions.

Grassroots Organizations: Since the beginning of 2000, threats and direct attacks have increased against Guatemalan labor unions, indigenous groups, exhumation teams, and other organizations working for justice and human rights. In response to this situation, G.A.P. initiated its Organization Accompaniment Program. One G.A.P. accompanier based in Guatemala City responds to short-term requests for accompaniment for organizations and individuals.

Guatemala Accompaniment Project Statement of Purpose

1—To provide, when requested, international human rights accompaniers for Guatemalan communities, individuals, and grassroots organizations that work nonviolently to achieve social justice, respect for human rights, and peace;

2—To support strong, continuing relationships between U.S. sponsoring communities and Guatemalan organizations and communities.

The purposes of accompaniment are to provide a measure of security to those accompanied and create space for Guatemalan communities and organizations to organize to defend their rights. The essential elements needed for successful accompaniment include: dissuasive physical presence, education, advocacy, and an emergency response network. G.A.P. recognizes that the advancement of socioeconomic justice and respect for human rights in the long term requires that community-to-community relationships be strong, be nurtured, and allow for continuous growth.\