Two immigrants with different experiences met and founded DESGUA,
DESGUA’s people power understands the importance of different experiences under the umbrella of socio economic policies that seek to disenfranchise us.
Therefore it is important that we consider the perspectives of migrants, domestic and international, those leaving, and those returned.
The effects of forced migration impact more than the migrant, so we take into consideration their youth, those who have yet to migrate (DESguiros), those who grew up in a land that will always see them as immigrants (Chiltepes Chileros), those who were left to administer homes without their migrant partners (Viudas Blancas/WhiteWidows), and the abuelos (grandparents), elders whose life experiences give us the socioemotional support and the insight we need to endure and thrive in our current challenges.
Willy Barreno, Co-Founder and Guatemala Coordinator, Willy@desgua.org
Willy Barreno took up arms and joined the guerilla movement at the age of eighteen during the Guatemalan Civil War. He fought for and then migrated to Wisconsin in search of a better life. While in the U.S., he worked as a chef and grassroots organizer on indigenous and human rights issues in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Texas, and Illinois. After twelve years of living in the U.S., he decided to return to Guatemala to regain his identity, rediscover his roots, and help create the Guatemalan Dream.
Jason Del Aguila, U.S. Director of DESGUA, Jason@desgua.org
Guatemalan, first generation born and raised in New York City, having traveled to Guatemala frequently as a child, and participated in social movements there as a young adult, Jason’s unique perspective of both worlds, are key to fortifying the links to our future generations and their Guatemalan/Mayan roots.
Inspired to continue to work in solidarity with the people of Guatemala, Jason is committed to cultivating transformative justice in marginalized communities around the world, creating programs to develop community safety practices, restorative justice programs (i.e. Know Your Rights, Documenting abuses, and Court Watching), as well as collaborating on developing educational and economic strategies for sustainability.
Jason’s previous focuses include over fifteen years of running social emotional development programs tailored for adolescents that incorporate the arts, culture and social justice. Working with New York Highschool and College students on advocating and rethinking Free Public Education.
His focus on restoring and preserving historic memory and Mayan identity, brought him to be one of the creative minds behind DESGUA’s origins, and a director of programs today.