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Trócaire’s work in Guatemala aims to improve livelihoods, support civil society, reduce violence against women, and prepare communities to respond to natural disasters.

Maria Soto and other Ixil women celebrate after former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide

Maria Soto and other Ixil women celebrate after former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide against the indigenous Ixil people in the 1980s. Trócaire's partners had fought for almost 30 years for justice for the Ixil people. Photo: Elena Hermosa, 2013.

Key Facts

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Trócaire began working in Guatemala in the 1980s during the worst moments of the country’s civil war

Health & other benefits

78,000 People

Benefitted from Trócaire's programmes in Guatemala in the last year

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Food and Resource Rights, Human Rights and Democratic Space, Women's Empowerment, Humanitarian Response

Trócaire's Work in Guatemala

Trócaire began working in Guatemala in the 1980s during the worst moments of the country’s civil war.

We supported thousands of Guatemalan refugees who had fled the violence and were living in camps throughout Mexico and Honduras at this time.

Our country office was established in 2001.

Since then, we have developed strong partnerships with local organisations to improve livelihoods, governance, and emergency response in the country.

We support projects in a number of regions, focussing on the highlands and North West of the country, where the majority of the population is indigeous.

Our Programmes

1. Food and Resource Rights

This programme area focuses on increasing food security among vulnerable families and communities. Training and support is provided on sustainable and ecological farming practices and families are encouraged to commercialise products such as coffee, nuts and honey, as well as processed products such as marmalades, shampoo and fabrics.

Trócaire also supports the work of resource rights defenders and marginalised groups to protect their land and natural resources rights.

2. Human Rights and Democratic Space

This programme focuses on supporting access to the justice system for vulnerable people, especially indigenous people, and supporting the work of human rights defenders.

Trócaire partners were heavily involved in bringing the former dictator General Jose Efrain Rios Montt to trial on charges of genocide and other high-impact cases related to crimes that were committed during the conflict. Our work also aims to promote more accountable leadership. We provide information and assistance to households about citizen participation in political processes, giving people more confidence to request better services. 

3. Women's Empowerment

This programme works to reduce the widespread use of violence against women and girls in Guatemala. Through advocacy and educational activities we aim to tackle the culture of violence that has a daily impact on the lives of women and girls. We support women and girls who have experienced violence to seek help and to report crimes to the police.  We have also helped women who have survived physical and sexual abuse during the war to seek justice for those crimes in the courts.

4. Humanitarian Response

We work with high risk local communities in preparing them to face natural disasters such as earthquakes and landslides. Following a number of devastating hurricanes and earthquakes we provided relief and shelter to the most affected communities. Now our partners focus on reducing vulnerability to future events through initiatives such as reforestation and soil-protection practices which increase resilience to natural events like floods and landslides, promote earthquake-resistant building methods, and train local rescue teams to respond to disasters. 

Guatemala Resources

Our Funders

The following organisations are generously funding Trócaire's current programmes in Guatemala:

Our partners in Guatemala


WATCH: Ixil Genocide Project - Psychosocial accompaniment and political formation. Produced by the ODHAG, Human Rights office of the Archbishopric of Guatemala

WATCH: Our film about the struggles of the Rio Frio community who were evicted from land in the Polochic Valley to facilitate the expansion of a sugarcane plantation.

WATCH: Our film of the 2013 landmark trial of former dictator General José Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Updates from Guatemala

Country Context

Guatemala experienced four decades of civil war until peace was declared in the late 1990s. Despite more peaceful times, space for civil society and democratic involvement has been reduced in recent years.

Human rights defenders, particularly those active in defending indigenous peoples’ rights, have experienced growing repression.

Guatemala has the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition in Latin America, these are particularly high in rural areas and among the indigenous population. Marginalised women and girls experience very high levels of violence, and female HIV infection rates are increasing.

Guatemala is also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and droughts. These events have made stable livelihoods and better living conditions much harder to achieve.