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From Communities to Institutions: Learning Exchange for Central America and Mexico

“As hosts of the Learning Exchange for Central America and Mexico, we feel very fortunate to have welcomed colleagues from the region in Guatemala and to have contributed to creating this learning opportunity that we hope can be a catalyst of change in different countries. During the week of the exchange, we had the chance to get to know each other and talk about the challenges that we face in the fight for legal empowerment, to learn to strengthen the work that we do, and to keep in touch in order to build a global movement for the enjoyment of everybody’s rights.”

Walter Flores
Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en los Sistemas de Salud (CEGSS), Guatemala


“This exchange has fulfilled all my expectations. It has contributed enormously to my knowledge and skills. I am very happy because I am taking back with me a lot of information and knowledge to share with the communities that we work with, as well as with my other colleagues.”

Felicita Valoes Lainez Dávila
Fundación para el Desarrollo Comunitario (Fundecom), Nicaragua


“It was a space for the articulation of wisdoms between grassroots organizations that equipped me with knowledge and experiences coming from our day to day struggles. I got to know, learnt and generated new networks for my daily work in the fight for equality between men and women and the prevention of gender-based violence from an advocacy in public policy perspective. It was an enjoyable and significant experience that equipped me with tools for the legal empowerment community work that I develop. I would definitely recommend continuing weaving these spaces in the fight for human rights.”

Edwin Reyes
Centro Integral de Atención a las Mujeres CIAM Cancún A.C., Mexico


“This exchange has allowed me to acquire basic tools to improve my work at the organization. For example, strengthening the capacity-building process with a transformative approach for building knowledge from the communities, undertaking actor mapping in order to identify our allies and opponents, as well as association and articulation with other organizations to boost our actions, or designing an advocacy campaign oriented towards structural change. I really value these learnings and I am grateful for the opportunity to come to this exchange and share valuable experiences that have strengthened my person and I hope will strengthen my organization when I get back.”

Diana Marcela Villatoro Sánchez
Red de Mujeres Jóvenes de Choluteca, Honduras


“Getting to know first hand diverse experiences of human rights defenders and the impact that they have achieved in their community was a gift that has helped me to bring back ideas regarding projects that I am developing in my country.”

Juan Carlos Carrillo
Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, Mexico


“This exchange has given me the opportunity to get to know different legal empowerment experiences from Central America and Mexico from different points of view: civil society organizations, victims’ groups, indigenous communities, and youth groups. This is important because it allows me to take with me many more tools to work with families in Mexico. And at the same time, what I take with me from this exchange is the importance of working as part of a network, and how networking and working in coalition with other organizations and victims’ groups strengthens our legal empowerment work and promotes our legal empowerment and social transformation goals. Through this exchange I have acquired new knowledge and tools for our work, and the conviction that I have the support of other organizations part of the network that are doing similar work and fighting similar struggles in different contexts”.

Natalia Pérez Cordero
Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C., Mexico


In July 2019, the Learning Exchange for Central America and MexicoDesde Las Comunidades Hasta Las Instituciones: Trabajando Para Que Las Personas (Trans)Formen El Derecho” was held in Antigua, Guatemala, and hosted by Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en los Sistemas de Salud (CEGSS).

A total of 24 participants from 6 countries representing 18 organizations, attended.

These 18 organizations take on a variety of critical justice issues: from women’s rights and gender-based violence, to environmental justice, migrant populations’ rights, and access to healthcare, among other. But they are united by their commitment to using legal empowerment approaches.

Over the course of 7 days, the participants collectively discussed how to impact decision-making processes, public policies, and institutions across a variety of issues from the grassroots level.

The week included sessions on power mapping and strategies for promoting systemic change, discussions around critical legal empowerment methods and strategies, field visits to learn about the work of community defenders for the right to health, as well as an opportunity for participants to workshop individualized work plans, collaborate, and outline possible next steps in the region—and more.

This was the first Global Legal Empowerment Network learning activity dedicated exclusively to Central America and Mexico. It was a cornerstone event that will enable the continued cultivation of a community of practice within the region.

For more information about our learning exchanges, please contact, or visit our learning exchange page.


Andrea Guadalupe Gonzalez Bautista y Guillermina Edith Juárez Leyva, Instituto de Liderazgo Simone de Beauvoir A.C. -ILSB- (Mexico)
Claudia A. Cruz López, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (Mexico)
Claudia Pinto y Maria Elena Beltrán Bautista, Fundación para la justicia y el estado democrático de derecho A.C. (Honduras; El Salvador)
Diana Marcela Villatoro Sanchez, Red de mujeres jovenes de Choluteca (Honduras)
Edwin Alfredo Reyes Tuz, Centro Integral de Atención a las Mujeres CIAM Cancún A.C. (Mexico)
Esli Cruz y Sabrina Sanchez, Global Brigades (Honduras)
Felicita Valoes Lainez Davila, Fundación para el Desarrollo Comunitario -FUNDECOM- (Nicaragua)
Fernando Jerez y Rosaura Medina, Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en los Sistemas de Salud -CEGSS- (Guatemala)
Fidelina Mena Corrales, Asociación Centro de Derechos Laborales sin Fronteras de Costa Rica (Costa Rica)
Juan Carlos Carrillo Fuentes, Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental -CEMDA- (Mexico)
Luis Alberto López Martínez, Comité de Familiares de Migrantes Desaparecidos y Fallecidos de El Salvador -COFAMIDE- (El Salvador)
María del Carmen García Jiménez, Escuela para Defensoras en Derechos Humanos y Ambientales Benita Galeana A.C. (Mexico)
Matilde Pérez Romero y Natalia Pérez Cordero, Fundar Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C. (Mexico)
Paloma Susana Chavira Chávez, Alianza Sierra Madre, A.C. -ASMAC- (Mexico)
Pedro Antonio Martínez González, Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente de El Salvador -GMIES- (El Salvador)
Vilma Haydee Lázaro y Vilma Maritza Gramajo Estrada, Asociación Reconstruyendo Vidas -Asorevi- (Guatemala)
Viviana Patal, Women’s Justice Initiative -WJI- (Guatemala)
Zonia Zacarías, Consejo de Mujeres Indígenas y Biodiversidad (Guatemala)