We will not shut up and will not give up!
“If they attack one of us, they attack all of us”
On March 8, 2019, CoDev’s Guatemalan partner, Women’s Sector Political Alliance suffered an attack in the lead-up to International Womens’ Day celebrations (IWD).While CoDev staff was monitoring rallies in Central America, we became aware (via social media) of the attack during the early morning hours.
CoDev contacted Ada Valenzuela, a Director of a sister womens’ organization in Guatemala called Guatemalan Women National Unity-UNAMG. Ada provided an update on the severity of the situation against the womens’ movement in Guatemala and the response to the attack on the Womens’ Sector.
This year, the Women’s Sector Political Alliance was the lead organization for the Coordinadora 8 de Marzo, the coalition responsible for organizing International Womens’ Day, including activities to denounce violence against women. Unfortunately, the materials they had prepared for IWD were also destroyed during the break-in.
Sensitive information was stolen including accounting documents and files that document the activities of women’s organizations in Guatemala since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996. In addition, all computer equipment and electronics were taken. Oddly enough, the organization’s cash box remained untouched.
As Ada explained, this was not just a random attack on one organization but rather an attack on the women’s movement in general. As a gesture of solidarity, the route of the rally was changed. The original plan was to have it end at the Central Plaza but instead, it finished in front of the Women’s Sector Political Alliance office with a very enthusiastic speech by Martha Godinez, the Womens’ Sector General Coordinator.
As soon as the situation in Guatemala City was confirmed, CoDev sent an appeal to all Canadian partners regarding the emergency within the Women’s Sector Political Alliance, founded by the well-known Guatemalan activist Sandra Moran in 1994.
CoDev’s Canadian partners, members and friends responded immediately with Solidarity and offers of assistance:
BCTF IS Committee — $5,000
Health Sciences Association — $2,000
Pacific Spirit United Church — $500
Victoria Central America Support Committee – VCASC — $210
Five days after the attack, CoDev staff informed the board of directors about the situation and the action taken by CoDev: an Urgent Action to Canadian ambassador in Guatemala, Rudaitis Renaud with copy to Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, The board also agreed to donate CoDev’s old computers as plans were in place to upgrade CoDev office computers.
In a generous move, CoDev board member Caitlin Johnson (chair of CoDev’s Canadian partner Capacidad, a BC-registered nonprofit society made up primarily of active and retired healthcare professionals working in El Petén, Guatemala), kindly offered to hand deliver the computers on an upcoming medical delegation.