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December 21, 2012, the end of the Oxlajuj B’ak’tun cycle of 5,128 years—not the end of the world, as commonly, falsely interpreted—is fast approaching, and for Maya in Guatemala, that means it is time to start celebrating. To commemorate Oxlajuj B’ak’tun, the Waqib’ Kej Indigenous Youth Council held a festival of art, music, and dance on September 22 on the grounds of the ancient Maya city of Iximche, outside modern-day Tecpan, Guatemala. Iximche was the capital of the Kakchiquel empire, founded in 1465 and part of what archaeologists term the post-classical period of the Mayan empire. As Alex Ulul, community guide at the ruins, explains, “Post-classical is the term archaeologists use, but that implies an end to Maya civilization. We measure time in b’ak’tun. This city was built at the end of the 11th b’ak’tun.” Oxlajuj, meaning 13, is the last b’ak’tun. According to Maya priests, the next cycle begins again at 1.

The festival also marked the conclusion of a two-day conference for Indigenous youth focusing on a re-establishment of the State of Guatemala in this new era. “We have thought deeply about the reality that we’re living, and what we can propose to the state of Guatemala. We demand real change in this country,” said a presenter at the opening of the festival.

Indigenous artists, musicians, poets, and dancers gathered from across the country to represent, via artistic expression, what Oxlajuj B’ak’tun means for them. Eduardo Santiago Reyes, from San Juan Comalapa, won first place for his painting about Maya spirituality and hardships. “I am so grateful to have the chance to be here. Being involved in this movement and painting about these topics has been a huge challenge to me,” he said.

Reyes’ father forbids him from painting about injustices Indigenous Peoples have faced out of fear of repercussions. “Talking about these issues is like a death wish,” his father has told him.

But Guatemala’s Indigenous youth are ready to take on this challenge. “It’s our turn to construct a new government,” said Reyes. As a result of the conference, youth leaders published a statement demanding a state that reflects the multi-lingual and multi-ethnic Guatemala that Indigenous youth live in today. “Along this long historic path of struggle and resistance, we, Indigenous youth, are discussing, deliberating, and articulating our struggles, on the eve of Oxlajuj B’ak’tun, as a moment for a new dawn for the people,” the statement begins. A musician summed up the sentiment at the festival: “Seeing this many young people, working together for positive change for Indigenous Peoples in our country, gives me an incredible hope for this new era.”
 

Read the rest of our five-part series on 2012 at www.cs.org/2012.

On September 28, Cultural Survival submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to appeal the decision of Guatemala's Constitutional Court which violates Indigenous Peoples' rights through the country's telecommunications law that excludes Indigenous Peoples from operating community radio stations.

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A new bill proposed by the right-wing political party in Guatemala would criminalize the use of the radio spectrum for any actors not authorized to do so. The bill aims to take community radio stations that are fighting for legal recognition off the air.

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As a result of a more than a week of protests in Guatemala, the leaders of 11 different political parties in Congress signed resolution committing to "dialogue on concrete legislative actions" on pending legislation, including bills regarding 1) Rural Development, 2) Agriculture, 3) Community Media, 4) Indigenous Rights, 5) Sacred Sites, 6) Indigenous Community Lands

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Sometimes a film makes history; it doesn’t just document it. So it is with Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, the astonishing film that helped convict Ríos Montt in Guatemala for genocide.

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Has clic para version en Español.

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On May 8, 2012, at 10:30 AM, Uqul Tinamit community radio station, a Cultural Survival Community Radio Program Partner, that serves the Achi Maya village of San Miguel Chicaj, Baja Verapaz was raided by the Guatemalan police and the Ministerio Publico. Bryan Cristofer Espinoza Ixtapa, the radio station volunteer who was on the air at the time on the raid, was detained by the police. In addition, the radio station’s transmitter, computer, and sound mixer were seized.

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Next door to Cultural Survival's Community Radio Project monthly training and production session, a week-long workshop on video production was also getting underway with the help of two documentary filmmakers, Hanna Adock and Karin Stowe, from the University of Winchester, England.

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So began Calixta Gabriel, a 32-year old Kaqchikel woman from the northwest region of Guatemala. Her three brothers were assassinated in the 1980s, her family lands destroyed, and her parents forced into a military-designed "model village." She herself sought refugee in the United States in the 1980s.

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"The Land No Longer Gives": Land Reform in Nebaj, Guatemala

In 1988-1989 my wife, our toddler, and I spent a year in Nebaj, a counterinsurgency zone of Guatemala. Living in Nebaj was not as risky as it might seem, at least for researchers enjoying the usual North American immunities and careful not to test the sensibilities of the Guatemalan Army. Backpacking tourists, many of tours of Central America, arrived daily, coming to Guatemala to find oppression and to Nicaragua to find liberation.

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"Those Who Die for Life Cannot Be Called Dead"

"Before the military give up power, we want the world to know that they are murderers. I think the moment will come when everything will be known." - a GAM leader The New York Times, 4 December 1985

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"Unofficial" Refugees in Chiapas

In addition to the large number of Guatemalan Indian refugees in camps in Mexico along the border between Guatemala and Mexico north of the Panamerican Highway, there is a substantial number of refugees not in camps in an area along the southern border between Chiapas and Guatemala, from the coast almost to the Panamerican Highway. Guatemalans have traditionally crossed the border in this region for economic reasons and continue to do so, now for reasons of survival.

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"We Put Down Our Weapons and Picked Up a Microphone”

On July 7–8, 2012, members of 15 community radio stations partnering with Cultural Survival’s radio network across Guatemala gathered for a workshop in the Mujb’ab’l Yol training center in San Mateo, Quetzaltenango. The workshop focused on the difficult topic of historical memory of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict, which claimed the lives of 200,000 mostly Indigenous people.

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2012 End-of-the-World Prophecy Discredited (Again)

It seems the closer we get to December 21, 2012, the more we hear the “doomsday” myth repeated. It shows up in films, television commercials, cable specials, and print ads. To Maya priests, however, December 21, 2012, or Oxlajuj Baktum, does not signal the end of the world. The date actually marks the end of a 5,129-year Long Count calendar cycle, the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

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2012: Business as Usual

The town of Cajola lies in a valley surrounded by mountains in the highlands of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Despite being just a 40-minute bus ride from the second largest city in the country, Cajola feels very much its own: every woman on the street wears the traditional hand-embroidered dress or traje specific to Cajola. It’s 18,000 residents are by large majority Mam Maya, who have

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In Momostenango, a small town in the highland region of Guatemala, the Quiche Mayan community did not enter the 2012 year dreading doomsday predictions. Instead, they’re gearing up for their biggest party yet.

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2012: End of the World?

In Momostenango, a small town in the highland region of Guatemala, the Quiche Mayan community did not enter the 2012 year dreading doomsday predictions. Instead, they’re gearing up for their biggest party yet. Momostenago has a total of 10 sacred altars.

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A Better Life At Home

I have been working in the main office for the past five years. During that time I have had the opportunity to travel to the United States, Canada, and Norway to do weaving demonstrations.

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The highly anticipated December 21, 2012 has come and gone. With no darkness that spanned 4 days, no intervention of intergalactic Pleiadians coming to save us and no cataclysmic clash of Nibiru/ Planet X with Earth, the 13th b’aktun ended peacefully to give way to the start of another new cycle.

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A Cup of Truth

Fair trade has allowed indigenous coffee producers to improve their lives, but some farmers' experiences show that this social movement must go beyond charity.

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A Day In the Life of Radio Doble Via

Radio Doble Vía (Two Way Street) in the town of San Mateo, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala is one of the 85 locally owned and community-run radio stations which partners with Cultural Survival’s Community Radio Program. The work of this alternative form of communication is based on the promotion of values pertaining to the various Indigenous cultures that exist in Guatemala, as well as exercising one’s right to freedom of expression.

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A Guatemalan Town 10 Years Later

The history of anthropology in Guatemala is replete with village and town case studies that too often have been applied to all Guatemalans, both Indians and peasants. This orientation ignores regional variations, historical distinctions and micro-ecological differences, and has confused and annoyed researchers whose individual examples were deemed to be aberrations from archetypes of highland Mayas.

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A Question of Frequency: Community Radio in Guatemala

With basic equipment, Guatemala’s Maya are using the radio to keep their communities informed and to strengthen a fragile democracy. The upbeat notes of marimba music fill the air early on a February morning, emanating from households throughout the town of Concepción Chiqurichapa, Guatemala, who are listening to Radio Mujb’ ab’l yol. Between songs, the voice of a young disc jockey announces the community news in Mam, the local vernacular.

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Looking for a hands-on way to help the Guatemala Radio Project? Have you already donated? See where your money is going - be a driver! The Guatemala Radio Project's next step is to assess radio stations across the country. You can participate first-hand in this important assignment by traveling to Guatemala and helping drive our survey assessment teams to their stations. We ask that you bear the cost of the vehicle rental (approximately $800) plus your own travel expenses.

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After months of lobbying by Cultural Survival and our Indigenous Community Radio partners, the proposed telecommunications bill has received a favorable recommendation from the Indigenous Peoples Committee of the Guatemalan Congress. An official ceremony took place January 14th at the Salon del Pueblo of the Congreso de la Republica where Congressman Rodolfo Castenon, the president of the Pueblos Indigenas Committee, delivered the signed initiative to the legislative directorate.

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By Guatemalan Human Rights Commission

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A Tale of One City, Two Languages: Palín, Guatemala

Has clic para version en Español.“We are not going to forget it. As our grandmothers and grandfathers said, “it is our life.” --Ana ConcoguaPalín: Poqomam Territory

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Ak’Kutan Radio, the only Indigenous community radio station in the Toledo District of Belize, has just undergone renovations that are enabling them to reach more communities than ever before. They recently purchased a new radio antenna that is about 100 feet tall, and strategically placed it at the top of a large hill. Radio volunteer Sarah Priscie commented, “We have to climb 107 steps everyday to get up to the radio.” The strategic placing of the radio at the top of this hill has allowed the radio to reach many new communities that they were not able to reach before.

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Haz clic aqui para la versión en español

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The Community Radio station Radio Damasco of San Pablo, San Marcos, was raided by Guatemalan police on November 15th.

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Armed Struggle and Indigenous People

The two CSQ issues on militarization and indigenous peoples are intended to acquaint our readers with the important role militarization plays in the lives of even the most isolated tribal groups. The articles contained in these issues focus mostly on the consequences of shooting wars and on the increasing number of groups involved in them, directly or indirectly. This increasingly militarized world also affects the lives of indigenous peoples in a number of other important ways.

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