Absence: poem for Catalina Mucú Maas

Ausencia - Poema para Catalina Mucú Maas

A friend writes: “The 8th of March was International Women’s Day. All day my inbox flooded with emails acknowledging the brave women who have campaigned over the years for equality and justice. Then the following day, I received a beautiful tribute to an amazing young woman who had also been part of this struggle.

I met Catalina in 2005 when she was 17 years old. She was a student, studying community development at the school run by Asociación Ak’Tenamit, a school for mayan youths in the Rio Dulce area of Guatemala. She was an outspoken and impressive young woman, a born leader with a warm smile. Every day I would travel to school by speedboat with the female students. We would chat, sing, and share experiences. She was always there, always part of some of the most genuinely beautiful moments I have experienced.

Catalina was murdered last month, aged 23. She was on her way back to her community after finishing her day’s studies at university. You can see below the urgent action that Amnesty International have issued. Catalina and her friends had taken part in negotiations on a land dispute in the area. There is concern that other members of her community are now at risk, having also received death threats. Please take the time to write appeals before the 5th of April. They could save the lives of more people like Catalina.

Last year in Guatemala almost 6,000 people were murdered. However these people are not just statistics. They were all deeply loved by someone, just like the beautiful young woman you can see in the photo above.”


Walking these paths and roads,
altars and mountains
The aroma of incense fills me
bringing you with it, aq’ab’al

Your absence
My floral companion
My dawning sister
My companion petal
My fiery sister
My companion river
My little sister
My airy companion
My sister of the earth

So absent that emptiness requires your presence

Return as a white butterfly
Make your presence known in the sweet northern breeze

Return as a maize shoot
Germinate with womanly courage aq’ab’al

Return in the river’s flow
Bring with you rain for our people

Return in ceremonial fire
Your absence is the strength of hunger

Absent, you
Return in every dawn

– M. Bolom13 February 2011

(Poem written in commemoration of Catalina Mucú Maas, respectfully and humbly translated for her sisters and brothers.  Take action on behalf of justice for Catalina and her companions Alberto Coc Cal and Sebastian Xuc Coc.)


About cascadiasolidaria

Human rights and solidarity activist from Cascadia, North America, writing about issues of justice and security in Guatemala and Central America from a perspective of solidarity with human rights and social movements.
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