Antigua, Guatemala April 10, 2012

Guatemala Defender Forum – Day One

Today marked the opening day of the Second Global Workers Defender Network Forum - Guatemala. Unlike last year’s forum, which was binational (Guatemala and Mexico Defenders together), we chose to hold a Guatemala national forum in order to concentrate more on Guatemala-specific issues and planning. 
The first day focused on physical and institutional security. Due to requests from Defenders and Global Workers funders, we asked UDEFGUA to undertake a special training. UDEFGUA has worked on the defense of Human Rights Defenders for more than 12 years, where the security situation in Guatemala continues to deteriorate due to a militarized government and an increased sense of lawlessness and impunity.  Many of our Defenders’ lives are on the line every day for their human rights work. Not only are they physically attacked, but human rights institutions are regularly burglarized and their information technology compromised. 
UDEFGUA focused the session on how our work in the defense of migrant workers rights could threaten certain persons or institutions, and then guided us on how to protect ourselves as a network. Many Defenders had received security training for their individual organizations in prior years, but security from the point of view of a network is a different. The trainer walked us through a “risk analysis”,  and conducted an exercise to rate the level of security risks in accordance with the capacity of the persons threating the network and the type of threat issued.  Finally we discussed steps to develop a security plan for the Global Workers Defender Network.  Overall, the session was enormously useful, even for the most seasoned Defender.

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