Collective Action of Migrant Children and Youth

The purpose of the program, Collective Action of Migrant Children and Youth (abbreviated ACNJM in Spanish), is to promote the participation of indigenous migrant children and youth (abbreviated NNJ in Spanish) in their families and communities through the creation of spaces for critical reflection and artistic expression. We work so that they recognize themselves as protagonists with experiences, dreams, and projects that can enrich the vision and life of their families and communities. But it is also important that they know their rights to both remain in their communities and to migrate freely and in an informed manner.

To achieve this, it is important that communities and their authorities recognize and value their contributions and proposals for the improvement of community life. That's why working with NNJ is always community-based.

Voces Mesoamericanas works in the region of the Highlands of Chiapas, one of the regions with the highest child and youth migration in the country to other states within Mexico and to the United States. But we also knit connections with migrant NNJs originating in Guatemala and communities in the Yucatan Peninsula. Their identity and belonging to Mayan people groups favors dialogue and exchanges between them, overcoming the borders imposed by countries, and creating an interwoven connection and transnational social force that can transform the causes that lead to forced migration.

Collective Action of Migrant Children and Youth

Migration has socio-cultural, political and economic effects on the lives of indigenous communities in the Highlands of Chiapas, such as the meaning of being in and part of the land. The identities, imaginings, modes of relation, and coexistence of NNJ are transformed through their migrations, as well as their projects of existence. For this reason, we consider it fundamental to promote and develop spaces for intercultural dialogue, critical reflection, and the creative expression of NNJ regarding their experiences as migrants.
Local work with groups of children and youth arises from the need for them to recover, narrate, and share their experiences and feelings about a phenomenon that is already part of their identity and local culture and history. It seeks to strengthen collective processes of political reflection, and at the same time to train in the development of communicative and artistic skills, through the following:
  • Meetings and workshops for dialogue and reflection based on music, theater, photography, video, and radio, which allows for creative and original expression of their reflections, generating artistic products (documentaries, photographic shows, plays, etc.) that can be used as tools of political advocacy and community awareness.
  •  Creation and strengthening of groups of youth promoters who are responsible for multiplying learning in their communities, with the participation of community leaders and authorities. The purpose of these promoters is to invite and encourage spaces for community reflection that lead to new organizational practices and resistance.
    Formation of leaders and youth groups able to work in networks and activate processes of community reflection around the risks, scope, and potential of migration. These groups are responsible for promoting the economic, social, and cultural rights of indigenous people, creatively raising awareness of the profound impacts of migration in these communities.
ACNJM promotes dialogue and citizen reflection through festivals, exhibits, and projections about migratory issues in public places and cultural centers of communities in the Highlands of Chipas. This is to encourage the creation of community spaces for free expression, self-assessment, and reflection of NNJ on their migratory experiences and future projects, in close collaboration with the Coalición Indígena de Migrantes de Chiapas (Indigenous Coalition of Migrants of Chiapas, abbreviated CIMICH in Spanish). Projects that contribute to community awareness and education processes include:
  • Migrant Museum (MuMi): An itinerant educational initiative that seeks to make visible the problems of migrants as well as their contributions to community life, from an intercultural and historical perspective based on the memory of the communities and the transnational ties that unite communities of origin with communities of destination. It is an open, plural, and inclusive space of reflection and cultural action around the migratory reality in communities and regions with high levels of migration.
  • Theater and Community Awareness: Training workshops on the theater of the oppressed seek to consolidate children's groups and youth theater, based on the reflection of the structural and daily oppressions they suffer and the struggles to free themselves from them, develop itinerant artistic pieces that can be performed at festivals and community events.
    Teatro y sensibilización comunitaria: mediante talleres de capacitación en el teatro del oprimido se busca consolidar grupos infantiles y juveniles de teatro, que desde la reflexión de las opresiones estructurales y cotidianas que sufren y las luchas para liberarse de ellas, elaboren piezas artísticas itinerantes que pueden presentarse en festivales y eventos comunitarios.
The products of local work and the awareness and education initiatives through workshops, meetings, and festivals allow us to generate analysis and proposals that respond to the vital concerns of indigenous NNJs in migratory and transnational contexts. These proposals are the main input for demanding and opening spaces for dialogue and advocacy with local, state, and federal authorities, especially those who are part of the integral systems for the protection of the rights of children and adolescents, created from General Human Rights Law.
  • Mayan Migrant Youth Network: Encourage meetings and spaces for dialogue between young people from various communities in the Highlands de Chiapas, as well as other southern border regions of Mexico and Guatemala. The desire is to build a solid network of migrant youth capable of generating advocacy strategies and promoting their economic, social, and cultural rights as indigenous people. Participation in the youth network of Mesa Transfronteriza Migraciones y Género (Transborder Network on Migration and Gender, abbreviated MTMG in Spanish) is very important to strengthen ties with groups in Guatemala, Tabasco, and Chiapas in southern Mexico.
  • Red por los Derechos de la Infancia y Adolescencia en Chiapas (Network for the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Chiapas, abbreviated REDIAS in Spanish): we begin to demand that children and adolescents of our institution be recognized at all times as subjects of law capable of transforming their environment and that their opinion be considered in all matters affecting them. We work especially at the municipal and state level to favor the inclusion of migrants and migratory issues in public policies.
  • Sistema Estatal de Protección Integral de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes (State System for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents, abbreviated SEPINNA in Spanish), is the body responsible for establishing instruments, policies, procedures, services, and actions to protect the rights of children and adolescents in Chiapas (Law for the Rights of Children and Adolescents). We seek to ensure the effective participation of children and adolescents in the Follow-up and Monitoring Committees of Municipal Systems for the Integral Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents in the municipalities of the Highlands.
From the institutional approach of transnationalism, ACNJM seeks to strengthen the links and the organizational proposal of young Maya immigrants in Chiapas and the United States through the following:
Desde el enfoque institucional de transnacionalismo, ACNJM busca fortalecer los vínculos y la propuesta organizativa de jóvenes mayas inmigrantes en Chiapas y en Estados Unidos mediante:
  • Transnational communication strategies that insert and disseminate issues affecting transnational communities, such as access to identity, education, and health; The right to political participation and representation; To free mobility and protection during transit.
    Meetings facilitating the transnational dialogue of young Mayan migrants (from both Guatemala and Chiapas), coordinated from a work agenda that guides actions of organizational promotion within their communities.
  • Estrategias comunicativas transnacionales que coloquen y difundan asuntos que afectan a comunidades transnacionales, como son el acceso a la identidad, la educación y la salud; el derecho a la participación y representación política; a la libre movilidad y protección durante el tránsito.
Encuentros que faciliten el diálogo transnacional de jóvenes mayas migrantes (originarios de Guatemala y Chiapas), coordinados a partir de una agenda de trabajo que orienta acciones de promoción organizativa.