New program to reduce conflict, build cohesion in Guatemala

By Evelyn Rupert

June 10, 2019

WASHINGTON — A five-year U.S. government-supported program in Guatemala to reduce conflict and violence and build social cohesion is being implemented by Creative Associates International and its partners.

The Peacebuilding Project, known as Proyecto Tejiendo Paz in Spanish, will identify points of conflict and strengthen relationships among and within 130 communities in the Western Highlands, foster community-led peacebuilding and improve local and national governments’ ability to respond to conflict.

The project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and will be implemented alongside partners Fundación ProPaz and PartnersGlobal in the departments of Huehuetenago, Quiché, San Marcos and Totonicapán.

“This project will enable communities in the Western Highlands to build peace and promote healing from the long-lasting effects of a 36-year armed conflict,” said Creative President and CEO Leland Kruvant. “With our past work in Guatemala during and after the civil war, Creative will deliver conflict-sensitive and inclusive programming that fosters locally led solutions.”

Addressing conflict from the local to national level

With an understanding and respect for the local dynamics at play, Proyecto Tejiendo Paz will engage leaders — including councils of elders, healers, women’s groups and youth organizations — to collaborate on peacebuilding at the community level.  

Enrique Roig, Director of the Citizen Security Practice Area at Creative, says the project will work to address the distrust and breakdown of the social fabric caused by Guatemala’s civil war and the conflicts that have continued since its end in 1996. 

“We aim to address some of the repercussions of the armed conflict that are still affecting the Western Highlands more than 20 years after the Peace Accords,” he said. “With support from Proyecto Tejiendo Paz, communities will develop their own visions for a more peaceful future and take steps toward realizing them.”

Communities will work together to identify causes of conflict and design action plans, known as “community visions,” to address them, with support from trained community facilitators. Key conflict dynamics include intra-family violence, poor governance, land disputes and extractive industries and natural resource exploitation. The project will also develop a team of conflict mediators to help communities resolve conflict peacefully.

At a broader level, the project will build the capacity of departmental and national governments to resolve conflict and improve communication.

Through trainings and exchanges for key governmental institutions, strengthening early warning and response to conflict and improving coordination among agencies, the government of Guatemala will be better suited to address conflict and violence. Improving the government’s ability to respond to conflict will strengthen relationships with communities and rebuild trust.

Decades of experience in Guatemala

Creative brings 30 years of experience in Guatemala to the project. Creative’s work in the country began in 1983, training Peace Corps volunteers. Since then, Creative has gone on to work with USAID to support citizen engagement in politics immediately following the 1996 Peace Accords, establish training centers for teachers, provide opportunities for vulnerable youth and former gang members through education and employment programs and more.

Elsewhere in the region, Creative implements holistic crime and violence prevention projects in El Salvador, Honduras and the Caribbean, working closely with municipalities to address crime and building resilience for the most at-risk youth.

Roig said with the collective experience of USAID, Creative and other partners in the region, Proyecto Tejiendo Paz will assist Guatemalan communities and governments to better address and respond to conflict and rebuild the social fabric.

“We understand the complexities of working in Guatemala and looking forward to establishing close relationships with our counterparts to ensure transparency and collaboration in implementing Proyecto Tejiendo Paz,” Roig said.

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