I’m Maria Luisa. I am a Guatemalan refugee raised in the United States empire under Reagan-era “drug war” and “anticommunist” policies that devastated Black, brown, and poor communities, and revolutionary struggles inside the U.S. and in Central America. My mami fled with my brother and I after the August 12, 1983 disappearance of my father by Guatemalan military and security forces. The internal armed conflict in Guatemala, forced displacement, United States interventionist policies, and borders have profoundly shaped my worldview.
As a bilingual Spanish and English speaker, I have learned that languages are a powerful tool. It has been through developing a Language Justice praxis that I have learned that language is power. Since 2013 I have had the honor of learning alongside many language justice workers, to create multilingual spaces across communities, struggles and borders.
Much of my work as a working class community organizer has centered around denouncing U.S. foreign, economic and military policy towards Latin America and building solidarity through education and organizing across communities. I am actively involved in collective memory-building in Guatemala and alongside my Guatemalan diaspora, and I continue to search for my father. I am also involved in educating on the root causes of migration and the connections to racialized and militarized immigration policies.
I can generally be found swinging in hammocks and playing the accordion, guitar, charango, or ukulele.