As a very young child in the northern highlands of Guatemala, Ana Ceto grew up at the height of a civil war, in an area where that war was most fiercely fought. Human rights abuses, especially against Indigenous Peoples, were widespread. She saw fields rich with produce and effort burned to nothing. Food was scarce and violence everywhere.
At 18, Ana began her work to demand human rights. She struggled to document the identities of displaced people rebuilding their lives. She worked with organizations to identify victims. She collected testimonies from survivors of massacres.
At 23, Ana, along with other community members, founded Muixil, a grassroots organization of Indigenous Mayan women working together to promote the health, well-being and rights of their families and communities.
Today, the vibrant colors of traditional weaving dance before her eyes when she gathers the wares produced by the women’s weaving cooperative in her home of El Quiche. Chickens cackle and cluck in the yards of Indigenous women in the community, many of them widows and single mothers. With help from Muixil, these projects help women build independence and economic self-sufficiency. They sell their weavings at market, and chickens produce eggs to sell and for their families to eat. Many mothers use the money they raise to send their children to school.
Ana herself is a mother of three small children. She knows how important it is to be able to provide for her children, put food on the table and send them to school—a right Ana had to fight hard for.
MADRE and Muixil also work together to help Indigenous women participate in political processes.
Recently, Ana testified before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as they reviewed Guatemala’s human rights record. She described flagrant violations inflicted on Indigenous Peoples and women. She lent an impassioned voice to the findings of the “Report on Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Guatemala” submitted to the Committee by MADRE, Muixil and other human rights groups.
“MADRE has given us strong support. You gave us the first funds for the weaving cooperative and made this trip to New York possible. We are very thankful,” she told the MADRE staff after her testimony at the UN.