The Importance of Mayan Languages in Constructing a Democratic Society in Guatemala

Mayan youth practice communication skills. Photo credit: DEMOS

Español Kaqchikel 

Equal participation of citizens in politics is essential for strengthening democracy. Citizen participation must be inclusive, representative and intercultural. One of the foundations of democracy is respect for human rights, which includes recognition of individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples. And one of these collective rights lies precisely in the use of indigenous languages. This is especially true in Guatemala, where indigenous peoples represent a large and diverse, but frequently marginalized, population.

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Election Observers Promote Tolerance and Transparency in Guatemalan Communities

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Louis Enrique Borrayo Hernandez is a young Guatemalan man who learned about the election observation through Association Ixim, the local organization that supported Citizen Action’s (AC) observation in the department of Sacatepéquez, just outside of Guatemala’s capital. We recently spoke with Louis, as well as his colleague Theylor (who preferred that we not use his full name), about why they decided to join the AC network as long-term observers. Their answer was clear: “we wanted to make a difference in our community and our country,” they both agreed.

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Indigenous Ixil Women Take a Stand Against Gender-Based Violence in Guatemala

A Mayan ceremony celebrating the launch of the “Less Violence, More Inclusion” observation effort in Nebaj, Quiche, Guatemala, to reduce election violence and illegal campaign activity leading up to the Sept. 6 presidential election.

Spanish Ixil 

The Network of Ixiles Women is based in Nebaj, which is located in a remote valley in the Ixil area of the department of Quiché, Guatemala -- a region that is predominately Maya-Ixil. The organization was one of 13 local groups that partnered with Citizen Action (AC) to observe electoral violence and campaign spending across 20 municipalities. We recently spoke with the organization’s coordinator, Juana Baca, as well as two observers, Paula Ramírez and Andrés Saquic, about their experience participating in the “More Inclusion, Less Violence” electoral observation network.

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The Role of Citizens in Democracy

Having just voted for the presidential elections in July 2014, voters in Jakarta’s Senin district show their inked fingers. Photo by Telibert Laoc

Español 

Sovereignty resides in and flows from the people of a country. They have a collective right to choose their governmental, political and electoral systems as an aspect of self-determination. The authority of government derives from the will of the people in their choice of these systems, and the people have a right to take part in their government – including through genuine elections to determine who is to legitimately occupy governmental offices.

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Not Just Observation, Guatemala Election Monitoring Opens Doors to Dialogue and Civic Education

Milvia Roxana Lopez (third from left) speaks during a training for citizen election observers in Guatemala. “Self-confidence was key,” she said, referring to her ability to break through gender-based stereotypes as an election observer documenting incidents of violence and educating voters during last year’s historic elections.

Español Mam 

At 25 years old, Milvia Roxana López, an indigenous woman, may be diminutive in size but she exudes a confidence that demands she be heard. As an observer who monitored electoral violence, Milvia met with leaders from her town and surrounding communities to document acts of electoral violence -- not an easy topic to broach in country that has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. “For me, self-confidence was key,” declared Milvia, referring to her role as an election observer. “To many people, it’s not the same when a woman says something as when a man says something. I don’t know where I got the strength, but I did it.”

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Welcome to Voices from Guatemala

Español K’iche 

Since the Guatemalan elections concluded in October 2015, NDI has held conversations with local partner organizations and election observers to better understand their experiences, as well as their hopes for their communities and the country. In order to highlight their voices, we will post a series of blogs documenting stories of inclusion and change -- the people behind the headlines working to build a strong democracy in Guatemala.

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This Open Data Day, Sign Up to Design Icons at Our Election Iconathon!

First off, happy Open Data Day. To celebrate this day of data liberation, we at NDI’s Open Election Data Initiative invite you to to participate in our Election Iconathon event on Saturday, March 19th where we will create icons that bring election data to life. Slots are filling up fast, so we encourage you to sign-up before they’re all gone. Throughout our work we've found that images, often through infographics, can tell memorable stories about elections. So we'd like to invite you to help us create icons that will do justice to the data our election monitoring partners collect and publish.

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Six Critical African Elections To Watch in 2016

Over the course of 2016, a total of 32 countries in Africa will hold elections from local to presidential (view interactive map). Map is based on U.N.-defined boundaries. Credit: NDI CC BY-NC

Africa is home to a wealth of political diversity and regime types. In 2015, elections brought about the first peaceful transfer of power to Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, but also led to mass civil unrest and instability in Burundi. Over the course of 2016, 32 countries on the continent will hold elections from local to presidential. However, the context of each election varies not only in political landscape, but also in the strength of democratic institutions and norms embodied within each country’s political system. In countries like Ghana, political actors will compete in a fierce struggle of wooing enough voters amid an increasingly critical public. In Uganda, the competition will center upon establishing the rules of the electoral game, as a long-time ruler works to tilt the playing field in his favor. Understanding the political background of each election allows for a richer narrative in the journey toward democratic consolidation.

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Open Election Data Pays Off in Uganda

We here at the Open Election Data Initiative noticed yesterday that the Election Commission of Uganda made voter registration information available for free at a granular level. Naturally, we were excited to see those two open data principles at work. The Election Commission published a file with the number of registered voters for each polling station along with the number of females and males registered at each station. The problem: they posted it as a dreaded PDF file, which is not an analyzable format.

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Burkina Faso: the Day After Presidential Elections

A voter in Burkina Faso displays his ID card. Many observers have described the recent election as ‟the freest and fairest" in the country’s history.

In the past week, the people of Burkina Faso again surprised many Africa watchers – the third time in 15 months – by holding what many observers have described as ‟the freest and fairest" elections in the country’s history.

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