It Wasn’t the Fire, Nor the Girls, It was the State

Voices in movement

On March 8, 2017, 41 girls were burnt alive in a state-run facility for children in San José Pinula, Guatemala, after years of denunciations against abuse and the deplorable conditions in the facility. Now the state seeks to criminalize those who survived.

It wasn’t the fire, nor the girls #ItWasTheState #FueElEstado

In 2017, the Guatemalan state, with abandonment and violence, burnt alive 41 young girls in the Hogar Seguro Virgen (Secure Virgin Home) in San José Pinula. For three years the government has evaded justice and criminalized the survivors. Now the government is accusing the survivors of fifteen crimes.

The compañeras mobilized on March 7, 2017, to denounce the deplorable treatment and dreadful conditions in which they lived. In response, they were confined and burnt alive by the Guatemalan state. The state now is accusing the survivors of a series of crimes.

The court hearings have been suspended more than eleven times. Relatives of the survivors have disappeared and been assassinated. The state has tried to erase the girls from our history, robbing their memorial from the central square. As part of the strategy to silence them, obstruct justice and seek impunity for the criminals responsible, lawyers of the government have filed a complaint to limit the surviving girls’ participation, to revictimize them, to again put their lives at risk.

A just world does not burn its girls alive, leaving those responsible unpunished. Today more than ever, we are pushed forward in the quest for justice and the assurance that this will not happen again. We are with the survivors and the families. We have not abandoned them.

#FueElEstado #Faltan41 #NosDuelen56

Those responsible:

JIMMY MORALES (presidente de Guatemala)

CARLOS ANTONIO RODAS (ex secretario de la SBS)

ANAHY KELLER ZABALA (ex subsecretaria de la SBS)

SANTOS TORRES RAMÍREZ (ex director del Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción)

HAROLD AUGUSTO FLORES (Actual Procurador de niñez y adolescencia de la PGN)

GLORIA PATRICIA CASTRO (ex defensora de niñez y adolescencia de la PDH)


BRENDA CHAMÁN PACAY (exjefa del Departamento de Protección Especial Contra el Maltrato en todas sus Formas, de la Secretaría de Bienestar Social (SBS))



CRUCY FLOR DE MARÍA LOPEZ (monitora del centro correccional Gaviotas)

OFELIA MARÍA PEREZ CAMPOS (Encargada del área MI HOGAR, dentro del Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción)

ROCIO ALBANY MURILLO (jueza del juzgado de paz de San José Pinula)

ROLANDO MIRANDA (secretario del juzgado de paz de San José Pinula)

Original post and Spanish version

Guatemala’s Anti-Landlord, Indigenous Feminists: “Healing is Political”

New Internationalist

Indigenous feminists in Guatemala encourage women to speak out against male violence, and to heal and defend themselves as they defend their ancestral territory. Frauke Decoodt listens to their stories of resistance.

It is busy in the extended household of Graciela Velasquez Chuj, a Mayan healer. All the women have been summoned to prepare the food for a three-day assembly. Around sunset some 40 indigenous women, mostly activists, arrive from all over Guatemala to the adobe house located in the village of Chotacaj in Totonicapán, a municipality in the western highlands. After a quick presentation round and some food, they go to bed. Tomorrow they need to rise early.

At the crack of dawn the day starts with a ceremonial fire in which an abundance of candles, chocolate, flowers and honey is burned. Ancestors, life and the earth are honoured. Wishes and words of gratitude are whispered to the flames. After breakfast the women make themselves comfortable on the mattresses spread out in the courtyard.

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