New Student Organizing


By Gustavo Ochoa Lau – Part of the student movement

“They’ve ruled us more by ignorance than by force.” – Simon Bolivar

This year has seen a significant increase in civic participation among both students and the population in general. Guatemala’s constitution gives every citizen the right to protest individually or collectively, and some students have decided to organize themselves with concrete goals to change the country. This is the case with the Guatemala University Student Coordinating Committee (CEUG) and the Interuniversity Coordinating Committee of the West (CIO), groups that have led some of the recent popular protests that have proposed changes to Guatemala’s legislative system.

A protester in Xela's Central Park is disguised as the monster of corruption.

A protester in Xela’s Central Park is disguised as the monster of corruption. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Ochoa.

Regardless of the field of study or the university that students identify with, they must act to better the country. They’re holders of knowledge and they’re aware of social realities, and so they have a responsibility to act. They’ll enter all sectors of society, and their potential has no limit.

There have always been marked differences in Guatemalan society, including among students. Class differences are a major reason for this, but we can overcome our differences through the struggle against corruption. We can break the paradigms of division that have survived in the university system so that we can work for the common good.

The new student organizations don’t just seek to demand justice and punishment for those involved in corruption. They also seek to propose changes to the nation’s laws that prevent illegal, disloyal, and degrading government. Among these proposals are reforms to the Law of Elections and Political Parties (LEPP), with which we seek to prevent people with bad intentions from gaining or keeping power. These reform proposals are the fruit of several informational and consciousness-building workshops that included public participation and permitted the CIO to get closer to the public.

“After the protest comes the proposal.” – CIO

The CIO, whose members represent the various universities of Quetzaltenango, organized its first such activity on June 13th. It was a dialogue attended by community leaders from Xela, who shared their perceptions of local and national problems. The attendees created proposals focused on improving how Congress operates.

The first general assembly occurred on July 4th, attended by members of various collectives and movements from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala City, and other parts of the country. Local and national media also arrived. Later, the assembly’s conclusions were shared with collectives from other regions for the purpose of comparing proposals and subsequently sharing with the public, through social media, a common proposal.

Protest in Xela's Central Park. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Ochoa.

Protest in Xela’s Central Park. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Ochoa.

The CIO will continue to inform and listen to the public through forums, assemblies, dialogues, etc., and create proposals that generate change for everyone. Further, the CIO seeks to be a watchdog, analyzing political movements and their potential consequences, with the goal of communicating information about them with the public so the public can voice its opinions and the CIO can act accordingly.

“Universities are the people.” – CIO

Read our proposals and get involved through Facebook. Participate. We all share the responsibility to demand that the law be respected, and that it be formulated for the common good.

“They never dodge the hard fight while they’re defending their land and their home.” – Guatemalan National Anthem