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Guatemala, Guatemala – July 10, 2013

4th Global  Workers Defender Network Forum
 
Over 20 defenders and observers arrived in Guatemala City for the 4th Global Workers Defender Network Forum. As the Defender Network grows and we hone the strengths of our cross border model, these forums continue to play an important role in directing our efforts across the region.  Key elements of every forum are the outcome sharing and strategic planning sessions and discussions. This year the forum in Guatemala took on issues involving recruitment fraud, among them the unlawful practice by recruiters of H-2B visas of confiscating property titles as collateral against workers leaving their contract early due to abusive working conditions. 
 
In the first session of the day defender organizations reported on the work their respective organizations had accomplished in the context of portable justice and the Defender Network. Some of the highlights of this session included: learning that our defender in Chimaltenango, CEADEL, launched a know-your-rights campaign to educate migrants and their families on pre- and post-departure rights and protections, utilizing information provided through our trainings and listservs; Hector Waldemar, defender in Zacapa, conducted a “Preventing Visa Fraud” workshop in collaboration with the U.S. and Canadian embassies; and that the highest number of cases and case facilitations with a portable justice element that our defenders worked on this year came from Zacapa, Huehuetenango, and Guatemala City. 
 
Following that session, we held a strategy session on “Improving the methods and procedures of the Defender Network”. Then defender Aroldo Palacios from Huehuetenango presented our report, Confiscation of Property Titles by Recruiters in Guatemala of Temporary Workers with H-2B visas. This presentation would differ from the public presentation in that it was aimed at laying the foundation for the ensuing strategy session with the network on the investigation’s findings and follow-up. 
 
The last strategy session of the day was the “2013-2014 Strategic Planning”. This brought everything full circle and provided the space to define goals for the next year based on the achievements, challenges, and ongoing projects discussed throughout the forum. 
 
Finally, we reviewed the Defender Agreement for membership renewal, and concluded the forum the following day – after the report release – with evaluations, feedback, and reflections. Every year we take a step towards further empowering the network and building its capacity to combat migrant worker exploitation from home. We are pleased with the contributions each and every defender made, and feel honored to be working with a group so committed to defending human rights. 

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