Ingrid Gamboa’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Stigma and Systemic Racism in Guatemala


While the global community works towards eradicating social injustices, some societies face historical systemic racism that goes beyond contemporary dialogue. A prime example is the Garifuna population in Guatemala, particularly Livingston. This population, rich in African descent, embodies individuals who have bravely fought against the onslaught of deeply embedded systemic racism that tends to marginalize them.

Fighting Stigma Through Public Health Initiatives

At the forefront of this battle stands Ingrid Gamboa, the founder of Iseri Ibagari, a local public health organization. Iseri Ibagari, which was started amidst the HIV/AIDS pandemic that swept through the Garifuna population in the 1980s and early 2000s, remains a beacon of hope in the community’s fight against discrimination, health disparities, and land rights violations.

Marcoaled by Ingrid Gamboa’s initiative, the organization was instrumental in educating the local population about HIV/AIDS, providing medical aid to the afflicted, and ushering in a culture of acceptance.

Combating Systemic Racism In Guatemala

Systemic racism in Guatemala transcended condemnation for being afflicted with HIV/AIDS. It found roots in suppressing cultural aspects such as language and heritage, isolation from infrastructural development, and bias towards the Garifuna community’s needs. The government’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, characterized by neglect and disregard, was a clear testament to this systemic discrimination.

To this effect, Gamboa and her colleagues, fueled by their dedication towards their community, also became campaigners for the community’s inherent rights as Guatemalan citizens.

Gamboa’s Crusade – From HIV/AIDS to Land Rights

Gamboa’s relentless determination was instrumental in founding not just Iseri Ibagari, but also initiatives to safeguard the Garifuna community’s land rights. Over time, her efforts bore fruit, with several organizations acknowledging Iseri Ibagari’s work for the Garifuna communities and offering their support. Moreover, with the assistance of impactful organizations, they could help decrease the number of HIV/AIDS cases to almost zero per year.


The story of Ingrid Gamboa and the Garifuna population encapsulates the true fight against systemic racism. This journey, though fraught with challenges, has led to significant changes and improvements for the Garifuna community in Guatemala. It also serves as motivation and inspiration for communities around the world facing racism, injustice, and inequity. The fight is still far from over, but with staunch flag-bearers like Gamboa, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. By challenging systemic racism and advocating for broader societal change, the vision of a more equitable future comes ever closer.

“Yo tengo algo. Yo no soy indiferente a los problemas. Si algo no está  bien, vengo, voy, camino, pero  yo  quiero resolverlo. Yo soy así verdad sobre como se trata de mi comunidad.”  Ingrid Gambao

English Translation 

“If something is not right, I will come. I’m on my way. I want to resolve it. I’m just like that, and especially with the way that they treat my community.” Ingrid Gamboa

For more information on Ingrid Gambao and to support Iseri Ibagari in Livingston Guatemala visit

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