In September 2016, PBI was awarded the ICIP Peace in Progress Award 2016. During the award ceremony in February of this year, Nineth Montenegro, founder of Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM), formed in 1984 for family members of missing people in Guatemala, gave a moving speech describing her experience as an activist and the power of PBI’s accompaniment.
Nineth, who is currently a member of congress, first met members of PBI in 1984, when political violence and terrorism were a daily occurrence in Guatemala. In the same year, Nineth’s husband was captured and later kidnapped by security forces. To this day, along with 40,000 other people in Guatemala, he remains missing. Nineth described how she came to meet PBI volunteers:
“Upon forming GAM, I approached PBI to secure a meeting place for the group. Through this support, we were able to form a board of directors. Tragically, the secretary of the board was kidnapped and found three days later with his feet tied behind his back and his tongue cut out. A few days after that, the vice-president was kidnapped along with her small child, aged 18 months, and her brother, aged 21. They were found dead with clear signs of torture. The child was found with plucked nails.
“These events had a huge impact on our lives with many people fleeing the country. I chose to continue my battle for justice. I spoke to the members of PBI who concluded that my child and I could not spend one more minute alone. In order to avoid being killed like Rosario and Hector, PBI accompanied me and my child everywhere we went. From that moment on, we were never left alone. They even took it in turns to sleep in my house, from Monday to Sunday.
“I believe that neither my daughter nor I would be alive if it wasn’t for the selfless, commendable work that PBI did for us. They gave me the opportunity today to stand in Guatemala, to carry on the battle, to carry on the fight.”
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