Family Matters

Addressing injustice in Guatemala

A brutal civil war raged in Guatemala from 1960 to 1996. With support from the U.S., the Guatemalan army used vicious tactics to suppress dissent and attack any communities accused of supporting the rebels. Human rights groups describe periods of this conflict not as civil war, but as genocide—due to the Guatemalan army’s deliberate, systematic focus on terrorizing, torturing and murdering the Mayan people, including children.

The Maya, Guatemala’s largest indigenous group, make up about half of the country’s population, yet hold little power in the government. Many indigenous Guatemalans—women, in particular—experience intense discrimination and lack a voice in the development of their nation.

American Jewish World Service focuses on ending violence and discrimination against women, youth and indigenous people, and protecting the land and natural resources that farmers need to survive. As an AJWS Global Justice Fellow, Rabbi Justin Goldstein of CBI is working to address the injustice. Working alongside eleven other carefully chosen Rabbis from across the county, he is helping to:

  • Develop social change organizations led by and for marginalized groups: indigenous people, women and youth
  • Prevent the hunger and insecurity that result from forced evictions of indigenous people and others who live off the land
  • Advocate against rights violations, including discrimination, violence and development projects implemented without consulting local residents
  • Educate communities about their human rights
  • Assist Guatemalan human rights activists in protecting themselves from violence and creating plans to ensure their safety
  • Forge coalitions and alliances with other grassroots groups—in Guatemala and across Latin America—to create stronger movements for human rights

The AWJS Global Justice Fellowship is a six-month program designed to inspire and equip Rabbinic leaders to become effective advocates for global justice. To learn more about the work AJWS is doing in Guatemala, click here. Stay tuned for updates from Rabbi Goldstein.

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