Council endorses Huehuetenango as potential sister city

Charlottesville City Council has given the okay to a preliminary exploration of a city in western Guatemala becoming the next Sister City. Huehuetenango is a municipality of about 120,000 that has been selected through a community-driven process. Jordan Linebeck presented the proposal to Council on Monday.

“I first visited back in 2010, a good family friend started a foundation called the Ixtatán Foundation which is a nonprofit based out of Charlottesville that focuses on increasing access to education for rural Mayan youth,” Linebeck said. 

Linebeck said an armed conflict in Guatemala lasted for several decades before peace accords were signed in 1996. She said the fallout from the conflict still lingers.

“It was a militarized government persecuting and murdering many indigenous people, many of which were in rural areas and the department of Huehuetenango was one of the most attacked and focused and areas of the country,” Linebeck said. 

Linebeck said there are many opportunities for collaboration and the Ixtatán Foundation has worked on exchange programs. 

Council voted 5-0 to move forward with the friendship. City Councilor Michael Payne said there could be some lessons to learn about the impact of interregional politics. 

“I think it could also be an opportunity to have important discussions just given the history, some of which you referenced,” Payne said. “It was the United States that backed the military coup in Guatemala and likewise provided support for the government which was committing genocide of the indigenous population and I think those are important conversations and connections that in our city and our country we can have as well.”

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