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Julia Esquivel


The Fig Tree

HQ Phone:  (509) 535-1813


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The Fig Tree

1323 S. Perry St.

Spokane, Washington,99202

United States

Company Description

"We have made some major changes in its programs," said the Rev. John Boonstra, executive minister since 1989. Early years focused on ecumenical dialogue and a variety of programs,consultations and projects of the faith community, but after years ofbuilding ...more

Background Information

Employment History









honorary doctorate


University of Berne , Switzerland

Web References(94 Total References)

Fig Tree - Gloria Kinsler reads poetry of Julia Esquivel of Guatemala

www.thefigtree.org [cached]

Translator conveys truth of faith and life experienced by Julia Esquivel in Guatemala
"You seduced me, Lord, and I was seduced," Gloria Kinsler read from one of the poems by Julia Esquivel, who was ill and unable to come to Spokane for The Fig Tree's Faith in Action Dialogue. It expresses the truth that many prophets, like Julia, begin with God's love and their love for God seducing-or as other possible translations of the word from Spanish might imply duping, tricking or deceiving-them into commitments, lives and risks that they never anticipated. Gloria considers Julia a prophet because she spoke truth to power on behalf of Guatemalans. She was moved by love to risk her life, weeping with those who weep and pouring herself out on behalf of "the least." Julia and an ecumenical group of Catholics and Protestants started a newspaper, Dialogo, to report on what was happening and what some Christians were doing. She also worked with Mayans in Christian base communities that studied Scriptures and related faith to everyday lives. "Julia spoke when no one else would speak. "Julia has been a voice of truth through her writing and her poetry," Gloria said. In 1979, a priest in the ecumenical group Julia worked with was kidnapped and tortured. He recanted on TV. Walking on the main street of Guatemala City after that, Julia was grabbed by would-be kidnappers. She screamed, yelled, flailed and made such a scene they let her go, Gloria said. Julia fled into exile for about 15 years, first with the Grand Champs monastic community in Switzerland. While there, she worked with the United Nations Human Rights office. In exile, she wrote three books of poetry. After the Kinslers left Guatemala, they spent three years in Switzerland while Ross served with the World Council of Churches where they reconnected with Julia. Meanwhile, Julia spoke in Europe and North America, telling people of oppression, machismo violence in homes, government violence and human rights abuses that were intended to keep the wealthy protected and in power. "I tell you this, because I don't want it to happen to you, " she told an audience in a packed room at the World Council of Churches' Sixth Assembly in 1983 at Vancouver, B.C. She knew that the then U.S.-based and now multi-national corporations, as well as U.S. policies supported the injustices and inhumanities in her country. Julia later lived in Nicaragua and helped refugees in Mexico. Soon after the Peace Accords were signed in 1996, Julia returned to Guatemala, accompanied by international witnesses. She returned to her family home. Her aunt, who lived there, had told people Julia was a guerilla, so people were suspicious. Gloria said that after Julia returned to Guatemala, she helped Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi compile several volumes in the Recovery of Historical Memory Project, documenting 200,000 civilian deaths and disappearances. She listened to and recorded stories as part of this effort to tell the truth, make reconciliation possible and prevent future atrocities. Now Julia, 77, works with women who were tortured and traumatized by the violence. "Julia does not always write of the deep sorrow she carries with her," Gloria said.

The Fig Tree - Faith in Action Dialogue 2007

www.thefigtree.org [cached]

Julia Esquivel speaks Oct 11-21 in Spokane
The Fig Tree - Faith in Action Dialogue 2007 The Fig Tree Julia Esquivel will share voices of Guatemalans through poetry Julia knew that injustices in her land were tied to corporate interests in the United States. Women Walking Together coordinator Sandi Thompson-Royer met Julia on her first trip to visit CEDEPCA, a Central American center for ecumenical and pastoral studies and encounter. Julia worked as a teacher, principal, pastoral social worker, writer and human rights activist through 30 years of civil unrest, dictatorships, resistance movements and civil wars in Guatemala. She has spoken out on behalf of thousands of Maya, Quiche and other indigenous people who were murdered or who survived and faced communal trauma. While some took up arms, Julia followed a path to peace, editing a magazine, Dialogo, as a way to witness to God's justice and compassion, and to bring healing to her land. Death threats and harassment forced her into exile in 1980. She lived eight of her 12 years in exile with the nuns of the Grand Champs monastic community in Switzerland, and then in Mexico and Nicaragua. Julia also traveled from these bases throughout Europe, the United States and Canada to speak and advocate on behalf of those suffering in the "Guatemalan holocaust." She considers suffering a school of wisdom, "part of our education as Christians." Having known so many who experienced fear, torture and death, Julia used her exile to heal, reflect and pray-facing her own suffering and the wounds of her nation. Julia eventually resettled and began a ministry of reconciliation in Guatemala. Working with global solidarity movements, churches and Guatemalan communities, she expresses truth and compassion in her poetry, wisdom in the face of suffering and a longing for love and hope to prevail.

COLOMBIA WEEK: Independent News and Analysis (BIOGRAPHIES page)

www.colombiaweek.org [cached]

Her experience includes copy editing for Redleaf Press, reporting for a daily newspaper in Iowa, working for Witness for Peace in Nicaragua, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and translating two volumes by Nicaraguan poet Julia Esquivel.She has been a Colombia Week editorial consultant since January 2004.

Nonviolent Cow : BobsPhotosAndEssays/Buried in Guatemala browse

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Julia Esquivel and 5 pilgrims
After breakfast and a few reminders (like never flush any paper, even toilet paper, down the toilet in Guatemala), our journey begins. Our first encounter is with Julia Esquivel, who comes to us at our hotel. At my first sight of her, it is clear to me that I am in the presence of a holy woman. She is elderly, wise, an accomplished poet, a political activist who spent 16 years in exile, and most of all a deeply spiritual person. Through one of our guides she asks us in Spanish to tell her a little about ourselves. We do. She, a storyteller, tells us her story by relating it to our lives. She tells of her, and the people of Guatemala's, suffering and struggles, especially during the 36-year civil war that started in 1954 when the military (with the help of the USA government) overthrew the democratically elected government of Guatemala. Over her long and eventful life she has learned that all life is a gift of God, and that to live life to the fullest we must be all we can be. She told of how she had to struggle with the anger she intensely felt toward the treatment of her people. She has learned through difficult struggles the secret of interior peace - forgiveness of ones enemy. She has learned how to pray for the leaders of her country and the USA, like President Bush, despite the suffering, torture and death they have brought into the world. She spent a lot of time in prayer with the words of Jesus on the cross: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Threatened with Resurrection: Prayers and Poems from an Exiled Guatamalan, Julia Esquivel, 1982.) After another full breakfast at a neighboring restaurant, we left for Guatemala City to meet once more, near the end of the trip, with Julia Esquivel - poet, political exile, wise woman. This time it was at a Mennonite Mission. She asked us what our thoughts were about Guatemala at this point of our pilgrimage. Words we say, according to Julia, must be the words God wants us to say. Words are like seeds that when planted and nourished can grow into mighty forces bringing Gods reign down on earth. Julia Esquivel Again we were blessed with words of wisdom from this elder of society who suffered much, spent 16 years in political exile, yet was full of hope and expressed gratitude. She reminded me of another wise elderly women I had the blessing to have as my teacher at Loyola in Chicago, Sister Irene Dugen, a cenacle religious who was teaching a course on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for the last time. When she spoke her carefully thought out words, like Julia Esquivel, you felt like they came from deep inside her. Here is a poem by Julia Esquivel that describes many persons who have hope even though they suf

Julia Esquivel :: Veterans of Hope

www.veteransofhope.org [cached]

Born in San Marcos, Guatemala, in 1930, Esquivel went on to study at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, the Seminario Biblico Latinoamericano in Costa Rica, and the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Switzerland.
She has worked as a teacher, principal, and pastoral social worker. She is also a writer and human rights activist. As her native Guatemala endured nearly 30 years of catastrophic political violence under the rule of a series of dictators, Esquivel watched as thousands and thousands of Maya, Quichez and other indigenous groups were savagely murdered. Hundreds of villages were literally wiped off the face of the earth and the entire nation experienced a type of profound communal trauma in the face of massive and often arbitrary brutality. Where others gave up hope, or took up arms in resistance, Esquivel searched for another path toward peace. Against this bloody backdrop, Esquivel played the role of activist, poet, and minister. She stood as a witness to God's justice and compassion, and acted as a healer amidst a land of suffering. As an exile, Esquivel lived in Switzerland among the nuns of the Grand Champs monastic community for eight years. At other times she lived in Mexico and Nicaragua as well. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties of exile, Esquivel used her time as an opportunity for education, as school for her own development and as a time to heal from the pain she experienced watching so many people endure fear, torture, and death. From her base in Switzerland, she traveled throughout Europe and into the United States and Canada, speaking, organizing, and advocating on behalf of the millions suffering in the Guatemalan holocaust. She gathered her strength through time in reflection and prayer, searching for a way toward healing -- healing for her own wounds and rages, and the healing of her wounded and raging nation. She has begun to find and create that healing in her ministry of reconciliation, in her work with global solidarity movements, in her work with churches and rural communities in Guatemala, in prayer and contemplation, and in the spirit of truth and compassion that pervades her poetry. She says that her poetry was literally like oxygen for her, arising as much out of need as out of volition-the need to heal, the need to keep on living. Julia Esquivel. Julia Esquivel. Threatened with Resurrection: Prayers and Poems from an Exiled Guatemalan, Elgin: Brethren Press, 1982 Julia Esquivel. Julia Esquivel. Floreceras Guatemala, Mexico: United House Publications, 1989 Julia Esquivel. The Certainty of Spring: Poems by a Guatamalan Exile, Washington, D.C.: Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean, 1993. Julia Esquivel. Some Secrets of the Kingdom, Guatamala: SEED, 1997. Julia Esquivel. Julia Esquivel

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