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Guatemala’s Indigenous People Continue Fight for Justice as Rios Montt’s Trial for Genocide Resumes

September 1, 2015

By: Ligia María

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On January, 5 2015, Guatemala’s former president and general, Efrain Rios Montt, appeared before a tribunal where he faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during his dictatorship in 1982-83. In May 2013 Montt was convicted for the massacre of thousands of Indigenous people during his regim

In a historic decision for Guatemala in May 2013, a court convicted Montt of genocide and human rights atrocities. However, the victory only lasted for a few days as Guatemala’s highest court moved quickly to overturn the decision, which raised many questions and disappointing eyebrows from various activist groups. The decision by the highest court of Guatemala was a slap and a punch to the suffering of hundreds of survivors who testified against the former general.

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Maya ancestry may help explain the high risk of diabetes in Mexico

August 28, 2015

By: Ligia María

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Mexico has one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world, with 12% of the population suffering from the condition, compared with 9% of people in the United States. The Mexican government is so worried that it recently declared a state of emergency and introduced a tax on soda and junk food. But a new study shows that some Mexicans may be at higher risk for developing diabetes, no matter how healthy their diets are. The reason may be their Maya ancestry, which carries with it genetic variations associated with the disease.

“This is an important finding, because it could provide us clues about how to tackle the disease and plan public health strategies,” especially for Maya-speaking people, says María Guadalupe García, a geneticist at the Autonomous University of Yucatán (UADY) in Mérida, who was not involved in the research.

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High Court Orders Belize to Recognize and Protect Maya Traditional Property and Rights

August 25, 2015

By: Ligia María

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On April 19th the Caribbean Court of Justice announced its judgment affirming the 2013 holding of the Court of Appeal of Belize that the Maya indigenous people of southern Belize have rights to the lands they customarily have used and occupied for many generations.

In the judgment, the court affirmed that these traditional land rights, belonging to 38 Maya villages in Belize’s Toledo District, constitute property as defined in the provisions of the Belize Constitution that generally protects property free from discrimination.

The court’s judgment, which was entered by consent of Maya parties in the case and the Government of Belize, will require the government to demarcate and officially register Maya communal lands, and protect them against incursions by outsiders. The Court accepted the government’s undertaking to adopt the necessary “legislative, administrative and/or other measures” to that end and, in the meantime, to refrain from and prevent acts that would adversely affect Maya land rights. The Court also ordered that, in 12 months, both the Maya communities and the Government present a report about implementation of the judgment.

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Mayan Spoken Here: Native Languages of Latin American on Display in Venice

August 11, 2015

By: Ligia María

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The 56th edition of the International Art Biennale of Venice, All the world’s futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor, presented, for the first time, “Voces Indigenas,” an exhibition entirely dedicated to the Native languages of Latin America. All the world’s futures runs through November 22.

Located on the huge site of the Arsenale, in the Pavilion of Latin America, curated by Alfonso Hug and Alberto Saraiva, and run by the Italo-Latin American Institute (IILA) the project “When the voice is the soul of a people,” was conceived by artists, linguistic experts and tribal members, through sound installations exclusively representing the mythology, history… of Native communities from 16 countries of Latin America. Each audio installation transmits a particular story, told by members of the various tribes, in their respective languages. Walking through a vast and empty space filled with voices, visitors only focus on sounds, with no visual distraction. “This project is truly linked to the theme of the Biennale,” said Paolo Baratta, the President of the Biennale.

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Maya Mural Reveals Ancient ‘Photobomb’

June 23, 2015

By: Ligia María

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An ancient Maya mural found in the Guatemalan rainforest may depict a group portrait of advisers to the Maya royalty, a new study finds. Most Maya murals depict life within the royal sphere, but the newfound mural, uncovered in the Guatemalan rainforest in 2010, shows a vibrant scene of intellectuals consulting with the royal governor, who is dressed as the Maya wind god.

Behind him, an attendant, almost hidden behind the king’s massive headdress, adds a unique photobomb to the mural, said Bill Saturno, the study’s lead researcher and an assistant professor of archaeology at Boston University.

“It’s really our first good look at what scholars in the eighth-century Maya lowlands are doing,” Saturno said. The murals also provide information about a man buried beneath them.

During an excavation, the archaeologists found the skeleton of a man dressed like the sages in the mural. It’s possible the man once lived in the room, which later became his final resting place, Saturno said. Read more…

Guatemala’s Indigenous Community Expresses Concern Over New Maya Museum

May 26, 2015

By: Ligia María

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“We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos,” Maya human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú said in a 1992 interview shortly before she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. If she was speaking today, Menchú might have included “museum” among the list of things that Guatemala’s indigenous are not, after news of a proposed Maya museum in Guatemala City was announced last month.

Dezeen magazine reported on the plans to build Central America’s largest museum of Maya artifacts, Museo Maya de América (Maya Museum of America), in the Guatemalan capital. This comes less than two years after Mexico opened two new Maya museums, one in the resort town of Cancun, the other in touristy Merida. The $60 million construction of the new Guatemalan museum will begin in 2015 and will be completed through a public-private partnership, with the building scheduled to open in 2017. While the initial news of the museum was greeted with blind optimism in the press, a preliminary investigation by Hyperallergic into the realities of the proposed museum raises some serious questions about the exclusion of indigenous voices from the museum, the proposed museum site, and whether the institution would further weaken the public national museum that already exists.

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Mayas de Campeche pierden tradiciones por discriminación y rezago

May 20, 2015

By: Ligia María

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El presidente de la organización de los Pueblos Indígenas Mayas, Marcelino Mis Uc, señaló que aún enfrentan rezago en sus comunidades, por lo que es necesario orientar hacia ese sector las políticas públicas.

Campeche.- Algunas Organizaciones No Gubernamentales en Campeche aseguran que los 176 mil 115 personas que pertenecen a etnias autóctonas de 45 grupos indígenas diferentes, donde la más numerosas es la maya peninsular, aún sufren discriminación y rezago.

En el marco de la celebración del descubrimiento de América, el próximo 12 de octubre, el presidente de la organización de los Pueblos Indígenas Mayas, Marcelino Mis Uc, señaló que aún enfrentan rezago en sus comunidades, por lo que es necesario orientar hacia ese sector las políticas públicas.

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