A Mayan human rights activist and survivor of his country’s war will be the guest speaker at the 10 a.m. service Sept. 10 at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Valparaiso.
Julio Victor Cochoy will speak on hope, love and compassion, the “greatest weapons for change and resolution,” after a decade’s long war in his native Guatemala. Cochoy is both an economist and an activist with a life passion to ensure that the atrocities of the 36 year war that ravaged his native country are not repeated.
Cochoy was one of 11 children raised northwest of Guatemala City when the country’s civil war began in 1960. Lasting 36 years, the war took more than 200,000 lives with over 50,000 kidnapped and missing. When his family members were tortured and killed and his life was endangered, he escaped. He was able to finish his education and earn a degree in economics.
His experiences of injustices in the war caused a great sense of revenge and resentment. His response to that resentment motivated him to take action. He became a member of the Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala and established the Committee of United Victims of Santa Lucia, Utatlan.
With the assistance of the United Nations, in 2007 he published a book of testimonies of the war entitled “Voices Breaking the Silence of Utatlan.” In addition he established Maya Skills, an organization that creates decent economic opportunities for women who lost husbands, fathers and sons in the civil war. His life-long work has been to ensure that the atrocities of war are never again repeated. His transition from revenge to hope and healing took place as he worked with the victims of the war as a human rights activist.
Everyone is invited to hear this engaging speaker talk about his experiences and his hope for the future. The Sunday service begins at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1295 Bayshore Dive in Valparaiso, at the corner of Bayshore and John Sims Parkway.