Norwegian People's Aid's work in Guatemala focuses on strengthening participation amongst indigenous people and peoples’ organizations locally and in the municipalities. NPA’s partners mobilize for the rights of indigenous people; enforcement of ILO 169; defending territories and natural resources; respect for indigenous institutions; values and governance; a fair remuneration policy and against racism; violence; and armed attacks in the communities.
Norwegian People’s Aid has worked in Guatemala since 1986.
Guatemala is one of the countries with the greatest inequalities. The inequalities are deep-rooted in a society marked by grave discrimination and suppression of indigenous peoples, where a selected few hold the power and resources.
The peace agreement, which was signed in 1996 after 36 years of civil war, has hardly been implemented because the authoritarian, feudal social structure largely remains unchanged. The elite is unwilling to share and seem unaffected by the fact that the country, despite its good conditions for food production, has a large number of malnourished children.
Local and national organizations are increasingly collaborating in order to protect natural resources such as soil, water and minerals but the state is more concerned about facilitating national and international corporations than to protect the interests of the communities.
Impunity is a large problem. With the appointment of Claudia Paz y Paz as Attorney General in 2010 some important changes were made in the legal system, including some important rulings on the massacres in the 80s. Paz y Paz was seen as a threat and was dismissed in 2014.
The peace agreement from 1996 is still an important foundation to reform the state. The mechanisms for local participation and influence are formally established and a few municipalities are already implementing them. Budget transfers to local level are lacking, partly due to low tax recipes. Our partners regard these mechanisms as good foundations.