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Guatemala, Guatemala April 29, 2010

Today, Cathleen met with members of the Guatemalan Association of Mayan Lawyers and Notaries (AANMG), who agreed to join the Global Workers Defender Network. The AANMG is an association of Mayan lawyers that defends collective rights of the Mayan people. Although Mayans constitute the majority of the Guatemalan population they are marginalized in all aspects of Guatemalan life. The AAMG is the first-ever of its kind in Guatemala and has made great strides in defending Mayan communities regarding land rights, environmental rights, collective labor rights and discrimination. Founded in 2004, it now constitutes 100 Mayan lawyers. From the office in Guatemala City, they have agreed to participate in our network to defend the right of migrant workers exploited abroad—a new issue area from them but one they have embraced enthusiastically.

Cathleen also met with the Archbishop’s Human Rights Office of Guatemala (ODHA) to follow-up with their membership to the Defender Network. The ODHA is one of the most important human rights organizations in Guatemala. Founded in the early 1990s, the ODHA has challenged major human rights abuses since then. The Historical Memory project, which examined the 36 years of civil war and blamed the Guatemalan army for perpetrating 80% of the killings, resulted in the assassination of the office’s director, Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998. Global Workers is honored to have the ODHA join our work in the defense of transnational migrant rights not only because of its important work but because Cathleen was an intern in 1994, shortly after graduating from college. It is a pleasure to reaffirm that strong connection in an entirely new context 16 years later.

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