If I’m not mistaken, it was writing a letter to the editor (LTE) that got my writing career started! (And, if I am mistaken, then the “spark” was lit by the story I wrote in Ecuador, inspired by a visit to the Quito jail to see the American women imprisoned for being Colombian mules). LTEs are effective venues for voicing your concerns to contemporary issues. Just remember to keep them short – they often need to be under 200 words. If you need help penning one, please contact me.

I wrote this LTE in 2007, after returning from a 9-day human rights delegation in Guatemala. After the letter was published in the Trenton Times, our two (NJ) senators signed on to the Congressional resolution.

For most of us, our greatest fear in life is to experience pain in death. For women and girls in Guatemala, this fear is a reality. When a woman is killed there, five hours, on average, lapse between when she is abducted and when she draws her last breath. During these five hours, she experiences brutality at the hands of her aggressor. She may be bitten, beaten, raped, tied with barbed wire, or worse. The vast majority of their aggressors walk away freely from the crime.

To date, more than 3,000 daughters and wives have been murdered in Guatemala. Only about 20 cases have been solved. This impunity allows the crimes to continue. It is time for families in Guatemala to have justice. Senate Resolution 178 asks the government of Guatemala to express condolences to the families, to act on these crimes, to implement a missing persons system and an effective witness protection program and to fund the National Institute for Forensic Science.

For humane reasons, which traverse borders, I urge readers to ask New Jersey’s U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg to support the Senate’s resolution. International pressure can work. The families in Guatemala are depending upon it to complement their hard-fought efforts.

— JOAN DAWSON, Hamilton