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Hi Everyone! Hope you had a great rest of the summer and a good start to this quarter... I thought I would share my final paper on fair trade and indigenous artisans in Guatemala for future research or work. Feedback would be great as well!

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I thought I'd share the critical research paper I wrote on the role of NGOs as the voice of victims in post-conflict Guatemala in case it could be helpful for future work or research.

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In 1996, the Peace-Accords were signed, ending the bloody, three decades long armed conflict.  During this conflict, massive human rights violations were committed, primarily against the indigenous people.   Indigenous peoples continue to be discriminated against, and the disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples are vast.   This disparity is not only seen in poverty levels (74.8% of the poor are indigenous peoples), but also in things such as childhood malnutrition and education rates.   

The United Nations has combined the peace-building mandate of the General Assembly with post-conflict development in an attempt to support the development process in Guatemala.   However, despite best efforts, little progress towards the peace accords’ objectives has been made.  This most strongly affects, once again, the indigenous people.  Annex 5 of this document shows the pending commitments of the Peace Agreement.  Many of these pending agreements are rights and responsibilities set up by instruments such as the ILO 169 agreement.  Particularly in the focus areas of indigenous peoples and human rights, these pending commitments could go a long way in aiding in the development of Guatemala, and the promotion of indigenous rights.  

I think this document demonstrates just how far Guatemala still has to go towards achieving indigenous rights.   I firmly believe that these pending peace accords commitments need to be put into place, but I also think that a nation-wide attitude change is needed as well.   Living in Guatemala, I still see a lot of racism towards indigenous peoples.  I think that without this change in attitude, even if all of the commitments are implemented, the situation of indigenous peoples in Guatemala will still be one stuck in the cycle of poverty and exploitation.   I’m not sure how one changes the attitude of an entire nation, but it is a fight worth fighting. 

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I have attached a Ted Talk that talks about killing in Mexico and how the drug cartels take over cities and get people to work for them. I like this Ted Talk a lot because I feel like it is relevant throughout Central America. I think that finding a strategic way to deal with the drug cartels is a key part of development in this area. As the reading stated, the lack of education and not stable political system need to be addressed for sustainable development. The lack of this development plus the rate of poverty fuels the issues with the drug cartels.

Development Programs in Guatemala (UNDP approach) 

Guatemala is still classified as a developing country by UNDP. The data that UNDP collected is invaluable to the growth and development of Guatemala. ADRs put forth an objective approach of keeping the results honest to the reviewer when analyzing development contributions. 38% of the Guatemala inhabitants are indigenous. That is over ⅓ of the country’s population. The data goes further by stating that of the 15% of Guatemalan citizens living in poverty there are 75% of the impoverished live in poverty. Data such as this should upset the equilibrium of the reasonable person. Indigenous peoples are getting the short end of the stick in terms of allocation of resources. In regards to a human rights based perspective, UNDP is making strides in reporting data to nation-states such as Guatemala to use to re-evaluate strategies for inclusion and respect for all people. The strategies lead to times of peace. I agree that UNDP needs to take different approaches to minimize poverty for indigenous people. Especially with how it correlates with energy and environmental challenges in Guatemala. 


This week's reading of the evaluation of development programs in Guatemala made me think of a common theme amongst the development agendas in the Latin American nations which I've studied and in which I've worked: the showmanship of progress as opposed to the reality of progress. Many times, as has been the case in Bolivia, Peru,  Ecuador, and Mexico, the government establishes a number of programs and initiatives with the intent of boosting development, improving conditions, etc, but there is very little follow-through to make sure the programs are actually working or running efficiently. Rather, they spend a lot of time promoting their programs as a way of saying "look what we are doing for you, the people! Remember this come election time!"

This is why I find documents such as this UNDP Evaluation both incredibly useful and incredibly frustrating. I say useful because they can be a great source of information about the effectiveness of development initiatives, but frustrating because the evaluations find a dearth of progress in some areas. I think it is interesting to note that the issue of gang violence was not a major priority in the evaluation document, and yet today gang violence seems to be growing within Guatemala and its neighbouring nations. 


One of the things I found interesting from reading the “Guatemala: Assessment of Development Report – Evaluation of UNDP contributions” was that despite the efforts the UN Development Programme, there is still a lot more work that has to be done in order for all of the people of Guatemala to benefit from development efforts.  I thought it was really telling how extensive Annex 5- Pending Commitments of the Peace Accords was in terms of describing what still needs to be done to realize all the promises agreed upon in the Peace Accords.  While I realize this report was written a few years ago, the fact that several of the pending commitments had to do with establishing and protecting human rights and the rights of indigenous people and women seems to illustrate the amount of time it takes to create change, particularly in a machisto culture.

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I just wanted to share this story with everyone, because it is a recent example of the harmful consequences indigenous people face when their rights and way of lift are threatened.

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In Guatemala, women have very few rights and opportunities, and indigenous women have even fewer than Ladino women.  As described by this document, Guatemala is a country with deeply rooted Machoism that translates into a division of labor, division of land, access to education, and many more problems.  There is also still a lot of racism towards indigenous people, and being an indigenous woman results in double discrimination.  Although women do not form part of the decision-making structure, they have played an important part in the San Juan Sacatepquez cement factory fight.   In this fight, it was mainly the women that stood up and fought against this factory.  

One of the organizations that played a key role in the fight, the San Juan Women’s Association (AGIMS), is still active, and fighting to improve the situation of women in San Juan today.  One of the things this organization does is to provide a voice for the Kakchiquel women in the political sphere by lobbying different political bodies.  Another operation of this organization is their focus on indigenous communities.   Through this program, AGIMS aims to have the Mayan community’s socio-cultural identity recognized, and indigenous rights supported.  

I believe that these indigenous women’s organizations, such as AGIMS, play an integral part of the changing of the Machismo culture.  Although it might be a slow process, these organizations play an important part in combating discrimination against women, oftentimes by starting at the local level  and working to change the opinions of the men in the community.  These organizations provide a much needed voice for the often voiceless indigenous women. 
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