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Weaving solidarity in Central America

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Front row, from left to right: Daniela Zamora Alcaraz from GJN, Marta Almela from GJN, Heidy Yolibeth Funes Flores from CEHPRODEC, Rosa Elvira Xocoxic Sabán from IDM, Rut Curruchich from IDM, Carlos Quiñonez, CEGSS. Middle row, from left to right: Maria Salgado Mendoza from the National Forum for Migrations in Honduras, Zulma Piedad Rivera Ordoñez from the Support Center for Domestic Workers (CENTRACAP), Johanna Barrios Ortiz from CEGSS, Alejandro Antonio Henríquez Flores from ECOS, Wendy Patricia Barrantes Jiménez from the Morpho Independent Living Center Association, Yenyfer Botzoc from CEGSS, Fidelina Mena Corrales from the Association Center for Labor Rights without Borders of Costa Rica, Benilda Batzin from CEGSS, Claudia Yulissa Pinto Padilla from the Foundation for Justice. Back row, from left to right: Vinicio Sandoval from GMIES, Guillermina Greco from ACIJ, Harold Arturo Miñarro Escalona from CEJIL, Evaristo Caal from CEGSS, Rocío de San José from ELAC, Rosaura Medina from CEGSS.

From February 12 to 14, 2024, we met in Antigua, Guatemala, with representatives of 14 organizations from 5 Central American countries that work with historically marginalized communities to know, use, and shape the law.

The learning exchange marked the closing of the Legal Empowerment Initiative for Central America (promoted by ACIJ, CEGSS, the Grassroots Justice Network, and ELAC). The initiative aimed to promote collaborative learning and strengthen the capacities of activists and organizations across Central America that see the law as an ally in their struggles to demand access to justice and the strengthening of democracy in the region.

The Initiative was structured in three components:

Which were the main takeaways?

Throughout the three days of the exchange, the participating organizations shared challenges, learnings, and key impacts of their legal empowerment practices in the current Central American context and their respective countries, which guided a conversation about needs and opportunities to strengthen regional collaboration.

Among the main challenges that organizations face, participants highlighted the weakening of democracy, the closing of civic spaces, the persecution by the State, and above all the fragmentation of the social fabric. To face these challenges, participants shared the importance of generating spaces for dialogue, learning, and the exchange of experiences between organizations so that they do not have to reinvent the wheel.


“Through the exchange between organizations, we learned that we are not alone and we felt accompanied.” (Learning exchange participant)


During the exchange, the second component of the Initiative was also closed: the Laboratory of Ideas. The participating projects from the Laboratory had the opportunity to share the challenges they faced, the learnings gathered when implementing their projects, and the opportunities provided by the mentorship from Grassroots Justice Network member organizations.


“Without the support [of our mentors] we would have encountered more challenges [when implementing the Laboratory of Ideas project] and since we did not have experience, how to address them…Thanks to the exchange of experiences, we were left with new perspectives.” (Learning exchange participant)


Although the current Central American context is challenging, the exchange generated a space of trust and learning among peers that allowed the participating organizations to show solidarity with the work of their colleagues in neighboring countries and begin to think about how to strengthen their common work. The next steps for this initiative seek to consolidate the support and collaboration network in the region.

*Special thanks to ACIJ and CEGSS for coordinating the Legal Empowerment Initiative for Central America, and the in-person learning exchange in Antigua, Guatemala.

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March 11, 2024 | Grassroots Justice Network

Region: Americas