July 3, 2018
Washington, D.C. In Piscataway Indian Nation Territory Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C. 20016
Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.
We Demand Justice for Claudia Patricia Gómez González Of the Maya Mam People! cc: Minister Sandra Erica Jovel Polanco of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala Dear Secretary Nielsen and Commissioner McAleenan: We write this letter as Maya peoples, Native relatives of the North and South of Abya Yala (The Americas); allied individuals of all faiths, scholars, human, immigrant rights and environmental organizations who work to defend and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of immigration status. Over a month has passed since the murder of our Maya Mam sister, Claudia Patricia Gómez González. On May 23rd in Rio Bravo, Texas a Border Patrol agent shot Claudia Patricia in the head and killed her – she was only 20-years old. Her murder occurred shortly after the implementation of the heinous “zero tolerance” policy, which violates infant, children and youths’ fundamental human rights. We continue to await a response to her family and the public’s outcry against her senseless murder and seek justice for her death. Relatives of our sister, Claudia Patricia stated, “This wouldn’t have happened were it not for poverty. That’s the reason that one looks for their path to continue onward in life, and lamentably she did not achieve what she set out to do. It is important that this situation be known, because many young people are leaving their communities. The situation here [in Guatemala] is very tough. Claudia’s parents are in a very difficult position and are in crisis both because of the news that they have received, and also economically because of the many expenses that this tragedy has brought with it.”
Guatemala is in crisis, especially for the Maya, Xinka and Garifuna indigenous peoples. Guatemala continues to perpetuate human rights violations, systemic oppression and exclusion of indigenous peoples at all levels of society. There are debilitating inequalities in land ownership, control, and management. The forced migration of the peoples of Guatemala is a symptom of the underlying causes derived from over 500 years of land theft, oppression, racism, and institutionalized exclusion of the predominant indigenous peoples. The most recent manifestation of the persecution of indigenous peoples, particularly of the Maya, is seen in over 36 years of internal armed conflict and genocide in Guatemala. More than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared, and oneand-a-half million forcibly displaced; the great majority of them indigenous peoples. This period of history supported by U.S. policies and funding has caused irreversible harm. Residual effects are seen in the forced migration of the children and grandchildren of hundreds of thousands of victims of the internal armed conflict. Current inhuman immigration policies make immigration even more perilous for all during the journey. Immigration often ends in horrific family separation for children, not just for children from Guatemala, causing irreversible psychological, spiritual, and physical trauma to the children. As of date, almost 2000 children were separated from their parents and there continues to be little clarity about the family reunification process. Despite being the majority, indigenous peoples of Guatemala lack true political representation, the right of self-determination and the recognition of collective rights to lands, territories, and natural resources. This was the recent conclusion of Victoria TauliCorpuz, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during her official visit to Guatemala in May 2018 where she again stressed the lack of decision making —including the right to make decisions about our lands, territories and sacred natural elements Although our rights are set out in many official documents—in the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala; the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace; Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization regarding Indigenous and Tribal Peoples; in Article 1 of the U.N. Convention on Cultural, Economic and Social Rights the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—all of which establish minimum standards with regard to our rights—our reality is a different one. As Maya peoples, Native relatives of the North and South of Abya Yala (The Americas); allied individuals of all faiths, scholars, human, immigrant rights and environmental organizations - we are all especially concerned by the abuses faced by these families and communities. The recent murder of our indigenous sister, Claudia Patricia Gómez González, has clearly demonstrated the atrocities faced by many of our brothers and sisters at the border, many who are indigenous and often invisible. Recent horrific forced separation of children from their families has victimized thousands of children, and indigenous children are some of the most vulnerable, left defenseless because they only speak their native language and can’t communicate. We are outraged by the attacks against our families and communities and for this reason WE REQUEST the following from the government of the United States:
1. Investigate and prosecute those responsible for the killing of Claudia Patricia Gรณmez Gonzรกlez in the United States in the pursuit of justice for this criminal act, impunity will not be acceptable. 2. Share the advances and results of the investigation by the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly. 3. Guarantee the personal safety and integrity of the three young Maya Mam men who were with Claudia Patricia, witnessed her murder, and are currently in detention in the United States. We ask that all necessary measures are taken to ensure that they are in conditions which allow them to provide full accurate testimony without fear, including access to Mam interpreters and trauma counselors. 4. Meet with leaders of displaced indigenous peoples, many who now live in the United States, together with Native leaders from the United States to hear their concerns and recommendations related to the crisis caused by immigration policies that are sowing fear, discrimination, racism, large-scale family separation and the criminalization of communities. 5. Recognize and implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the bare minimum standard for the respect and protection of rights as indigenous nations, within a context of conflict, persecution, and forced displacement from our lands and territories which has turned us into refugees.
In consideration of everything presented, we hope that there may be a future for dialogue. We welcome an opportunity to meet with you or a designated representative to hold a discussion that can achieve these objectives for the good of the lives of our peoples and our future generations. Our point of contact for coordinating is Juanita Cabrera Lopez, member of the Maya Mam Nation, and Executive Director of the International Mayan League, firstname.lastname@example.org; (202) 827-6673. We look forward to your response, Sincerely, Indigenous Organizations, United States Juanita Cabrera Lopez Maya Mam Nation Executive Director, International Mayan League/USA Dr. Gabrielle Tayac Piscataway Indian Nation Tribal Historian
Sebastian Medina-Tayac Piscataway Indian Nation DC Chapter President, International Indigenous Youth Council Robert T. Coulter Citizen Potawatomi Nation Executive Director, Indian Law Resource Center Policarpo Chaj Maya K’iche’ Nation Maya Vision Tupac Enrique Acosta Nahuatl-Xicano Founder and Coordinator, TONATIERRA Civil Society, United States Doug Hertzler Senior Policy Analyst, ActionAid USA Kathryn Johnson Policy Advocacy Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee Annie Bird, Executive Director, Guatemala Human Rights Commission Ayla Bailey Program Manager, Guatemala Human Rights Commission Sarah Hall Aguila Director of Operations, Central American Resource Center DC John Cano Community Organizer, Centreville Labor Resource Center Margaret Breslau Chair, Coalition for Justice Eli McCarthy Director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic) Austin Gonzalez Co-Chair, DSA Richmond Karen Bryant President, EarthNexus 4
Eric Goplerud Chair of the Board of Directors, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions Rev Dr Jean Wright Treasurer, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions Sister Marie Lucey Associate Director, Franciscan Action Network Maria Orlandini Director of Advocacy, Franciscan Action Network Thomas and Judith Luce Friends of ACAM Mark Magana Founding President & CEO, GreenLatinos Ilyse Kramer Consultant, Inclusion Clearinghouse Marcia Esparza Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (Chile/USA) Daniella Burgi-Palomino Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group Andrea Fernรกndez Aponte Program Associate, Latin America Working Group Nicholas Marritz Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center Sapna Pandya Executive Director, Many Languages One Voice Diane Eikenberry Associate Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center Christine Sutton Coordinating Team Chair, Partners for Arlington and Guatemala, Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (VA) Seth Long Regional Online Organizer, Sierra Club Jean Stokan Justice Coordinator, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Justice Team 5
Sister Louise Alff, OSF Assistant General Minister, Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities Carmen Rodriguez Arroyo Attorney, The Bronx Defenders Lucianne Walkowicz Chair of Astrobiology, The Library of Congress Alan Harold Moore Director of Faith Development, Unitarian Universalist Church Dr. Jo-Marie Burt Senior Fellow, Washington Office on Latin America Individuals, United States Dr. Janis B. Alcorn Independent Consultant Kelsey Alford-Jones Human Rights Advocate Matt Anderson Eastern Cherokee Assistant Professor, Ohio State Dylan Bergeson Journalist and Producer Heather Brady Senior Manager, Publishing Industry Dr. Daisy Bugarin Mexica Founder Semillas Collective Michael Busch Research Scientist Maya Cabrera-Lopez Maya Mam Nation Videographer Dr. Selma Caal Psychologist and Researcher 6
Jair Carrasco Aymara Program Coordinator, American Council on Education Nicholas Copeland Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Raven Davis Library Associate Christiane Dechert Speech-language Pathologist Maria Regina Firmino-Castillo, PhD Critical Dance Studies Professor, University of California, Riverside Lindsey Golden Attorney, Golden Counsel YasmĂn Hage Director Janet Hernandez Concerned Citizen, Community member Jeffrey Hotchkiss Founder, Reiki Community Health & Wellbeing Natalie Johnson Artist Barbara Y Johnson Filmmaker, Filmmaker Philomena Kebec Attorney at Law Tonya L Lawrence Blackfoot Nation Artist Wes Lerch Concerned Citizen, California Robert Levin 7
Shanna Lim Artist and Arts educator Molly Maddra-Santiago PhD Student Hilary Mayhew Instructor Candice mills Musician, Makeup Artist Jennifer Nehrt Museum Educator Danica Ramirez Licensed Marriage Family Child Therapist Roberta Rinker Social Worker Chanda Prescod-Weinstein Affiliate Assistant Professor of Physics, University of New Hampshire Jacqueline Shea Murphy Professor, University of California, Riverside Alexandra Smith Student Louse P. Simone Ronin Spartas IT Support Specialist Juan Tejeda Xicanx Retired Professor and Musician Fabiola Torralba Cultural Worker Patricia Wagner Teacher
Andrew Winters Retired Foreign Service Officer Indigenous Organizations, Guatemala Asociación Pop No'j Maya Peoples of Guatemala Juan José Hurtado Paz y Paz Director, Asociación Pop No'j Angelina Aspuac Con Kaqchikel Coordinadora de incidencia, AFEDES Nim Sanik Aq'ab'al Maya Kaqchikel Guatemala Consejo del Pueblo Maya Kaqchikel Victor Sales Consejo Maya Mam saqtx'otx Chab'jul te paxil Francisco Perez Paz Nación Maya Mam Consejo Maya Mam Maria Lidia Romero Monterroso Maya Mam Nation Consejo Cargador del Consejo Maya Mam Pascual Martín Vásquez Nación Maya Mam Consejo Maya Mam Consejo Maya Mam de Quetzaltenango Nación Maya Mam Autoridad Bibiana Leticia Ramírez Ramírez Autoridad Maya Mam Consejo del Pueblo Maya -CPOGloria estela Garcia Garcia Coordinadora General, Concejo Comunitario de Tejedoras
Catarina Lorenzo Q’anjoba’l Executive Director, Parlamento Maya - Patqu’m Mayab’ Luis Marcos Q'anjob'al Maya Autoridad Ancestral, Parlamento Maya Q'anjob'al Eva Tecún León K’iche’ Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas TZ’UNUNIJA’ Nelton Eduardo Rivera Gonzalez Co-Director, Prensa Comunitaria Individuals, Guatemala Beatriz Alejandra Aguilar Auxiliar de Catedra, Escuela de Biología Jorge Arriaga Rafael Antonio Bagur Castillo Lic. Zootecnista. Diana Soledad de León Palacios Publicists Juan Alejandro Gomez Mendez Comunicador Social Alejandro Gonzalez Maya Ixil Julio César Guarcax Cuc Maya Kaqchikel Sindy Hernandez Bonilla Carlos Ixquiac Maya Quiche/Mam Despertar Maya Victor Lopez Maya Mam Julia Mendoza 10
Edi López Santiago Economist and Researcher Mercedes Say Maya Kiche Delia Ofelia Témaj Morales Maya Mam Nation Representante legal Asociación de Desarrollo Integral, Santa Cruz. Byron Tzoc Maya K’iche’ Interpreter K’iche’ Other countries Susana Patricia Arenas Giraldo Psychologist Colombia Lorena Brady Human Rights Advocate Ecuador Chloe Campbell Student, SUNY Downstate Ireland Christiane Dechert Immigrant from Germany Yaneth Gil Ardón President, Una Ayuda Para Ti Mujer Migrante A.C El Salvador Marcela Larrea Ecuador Rosa Magallanes Mexico José Luis Manzo Ramírez Defensor de Derechos de Migrantes Miembro del Consejo Ciudadano de Desarrollo Social y Participación Ciudadana del Estado de Chihuahua
Maria M. Martinez Anthropologist El Salvador Beronica Quiguango Kichwa Jorge F Sanchez Ramirez Photographer Mexico Antigona Segura Peralta UNAM Mexico Aldo Urena Mexico Marta Urquilla Deputy Director, Georgetown University El Salvador Isabel Vinent Educator Honduras
Dear Secretary Nielsen and Commissioner McAleenan: cc: Minister Sandra Erica Jovel Polanco of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala We write thi...
Published on Jul 3, 2018
Dear Secretary Nielsen and Commissioner McAleenan: cc: Minister Sandra Erica Jovel Polanco of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala We write thi...