Tag Archives: human rights


“The only thing that is constant is change.”
― Heraclitus

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
― Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Change is scary. No, wait… ghosts are scary. Change is terrifying. Like “Trump as a babysitter” terrifying. Forget butterflies in the tummy, change is like hairy bats in your belly.

Yet change can also be exciting, inspiring, and invigorating. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be the agent of that change. To design it, build it, help it grow. In those circumstances change can even be fun. Fun and terrifying.

Over the past few months I’ve begun the process of creating a new nonprofit organization to support human rights defenders in Guatemala. The official name is The Human Rights Defenders Project, but I imagine that we’ll end up calling it the Defenders Project informally. (For the bilingual among you, we opted for “Proyecto Defensores” instead of “El Proyecto de Apoyo para las y los Defensores de los Derechos Humanos” for reasons that should be immediately apparent.)

It has been a fascinating and exhausting experience so far: the paperwork, the research, the fundraising, the brainstorming, the paperwork. (Yes, I know. It warranted repeating.)  Thanks to the help of generous donors and our super-savvy lawyer, Mollie, we are now a legally-incorporated nonprofit organization awaiting 501c3 tax-exempt status from the IRS!

It’s spring, and change is in the air. For me, this means:

Changing from NY to Guatemala: I’ll be returning to Guatemala City on May 2.

Changing from planning to doing: we will soon be “going public” with the Defender’s Project, and opening the doors of our new office.

Changing the focus of this website: from now on, news and analysis about Guatemala will be on the Defender’s Project website. This site will focus more on my personal stories about work and life in Guatemala, as well as other non-Guatemalany (yes, I made that word up) topics like leadership, meditation, time management, photography, productivity, etc.

I look forward to sharing this journey of change with all of you!

PS: If anyone knows how to rid a belly of hairy bats, I welcome your suggestions.

U.N. adopts historic resolution on protection of defenders

Berta Caceres, assassinated Honduran human rights defender

From the International Service for Human Rights:

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a landmark resolution on the protection of human rights defenders working to promote economic, social and cultural rights by a resounding vote. States and business enterprises must now act to implement the resolution at the national level.

The resolution affirms the legitimate and essential role of human rights defenders in promoting, protecting and contributing to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights – including indigenous rights and the right to development – and condemns restrictions and attacks against them by both States and business enterprises. It also underscores the fact that exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and public participation can be essential to the promotion, protection and realization of ESC rights, and that restrictions or violations of these democratic rights may lead and amount to violations of the ESC rights for which defenders are advocating.

The resolution also provides invaluable guidance to States and business as to obligations and good practices in the protection of defenders.

Read more: Human Rights Council adopts historic resolution on protection of defenders of economic, social and cultural rights (ISHR)

Under Siege

Under Siege: Under Siege: Peaceful Resistance to Tahoe Resources and Militarization in GuatemalaUnder Siege: Peaceful Resistance to Tahoe Resources and Militarization in Guatemala

Author: Luis Solano

Organizations:  International Platform Against Impunity, MiningWatch Canada, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)

Publication date: 10 November 2015

Size: 29 pages, 1.8MB

Ever since Goldcorp acquired Glamis Gold’s mining rights in 2007, opposition began to surface among residents of communities in the departments of Jalapa and Santa Rosa, who began to peacefully demonstrate against the mining project. Since 2010, under control of Tahoe Resources, community opposition to the mining project grew to include protest marches and municipal referendums in neighbouring municipalities.

The peaceful protest movement, in defense of water and the environment, has been met with repression, criminalization, militarization, and extreme violence… including the killing of local leaders.

Download the executive summary (English)

Download the full report (English)