Guatemala-Canada: Clashing World Views at a Crossroads

December 19, 2012 Grahame Russell 0

Recently, I had a front row seat to the colliding of world visions and realities in the heart and center of Canada’s financial district in downtown Toronto. From November 23-30, five Mayan Qeqchi [Kek’Chi] people came to Toronto to pursue justice and remedy for violations and harms they suffered due to the nickel mining interests of Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals.


Soccer and Sea Turtles: Community Conservation in Guatemala

December 19, 2012 Sarah Lucas and Matt Schwartz 0

In the coastal village of La Barrona, residents make their living through small scale fishing, and sea turtle egg harvesting, and build their houses and fires from the local Mangrove forests. These are all resources that will dry up if not cared for, particularly the eggs of the vulnerable olive ridley sea turtle. UK-based non-profit Akazul and former turtle egg collector Melvin Monterroso created a soccer and environmental education program to teach children to learn to conserve the community’s resources.


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Big Landowners Block Rural Development Law in Guatemala

December 18, 2012 Danilo Valladares 0

An “integral rural development law” to promote access to land, employment and other rights for small farmers is bogged down in the Guatemalan Congress due to opposition from large landowners, who see it as an attempt at land reform. “The bill contains 10 proposals that would contribute particularly to development for women and indigenous rural communities,” said activist Irene Barrientos, of the Committee of Campesino Unity.


Photo taken at the blockade by Rachel Schmidt.

Guatemala: Peaceful Resistance in the Face of Violence

October 24, 2012 Dawn Paley 0

Telma Yolanda Oquelí Veliz, who was nearly killed for her activism against mining in San José del Golfo, Guatemala, spoke out publicly Monday morning for the first time since the attack against her in June. “I want to tell the world that here in Guatemala there is a peaceful resistance that exists, and we are prepared to stay here as long as possible,” she said, sitting upright on a plastic chair inside a permanent camp blocking the entrance to a proposed gold mine about 30km from Guatemala City.


Guatemala under Pressure to Investigate Shooting of Native Protesters

October 9, 2012 Danilo Valladares 0

The deaths of eight indigenous demonstrators taking part in a protest against the Guatemalan government in the southwestern province of Totonicapán have provoked outrage within the country and abroad. “The army should never be involved in actions of law and order,” said Helen Mack, the founder and president of the Myrna Mack Foundation. “Their doctrine is to kill, and what was happening there did not call for any killing.”


Guatemala: Women’s Gathering in Defense of Water, Life and Territory

Miriam Plxtún of the Movement of Indigeous Women Tz ́ununija identified several major achievements of the gathering, including the importance of creating their own space for recognizing and strengthening the peaceful struggle in defense of territory and natural resources, the discussion of alternatives, and the effort to build cross-border alliances that spread information on the effects of mega-projects.


Army’s Former Sex Slaves Testify in Guatemala

September 28, 2012 Danilo Valladares 0

With her face covered, and with the support of a psychologist and a translator, a crying Rosa Pérez* told a court hearing this week that members of the army kidnapped her husband and turned her into a sex slave and servant in the Sepur Zarco military garrison in the municipality of El Estor in the northeastern province of Izabal. She and 14 other Q’eqchi Maya Indian women who were subjected to sexual and labour slavery between 1982 and 1986 testified at a preliminary hearing held this week in a court in the Guatemalan capital.


Nueva Esperanza, Guatemala

September 7, 2012 Dawn Paley 0

The original community of Nueva Esperanza was established in Guatemala’s Lacandón National Park, in the state of Peten, near the northern border with Mexico. The park was created in 1990, while civil war still raged in Guatemala. It is co-managed by “Defensores de la Naturaleza,” a private nongovernmental organization, and the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONAP). But instead of assisting a community whose environmental footprint is tiny — they live without cars, plumbing or electricity — the government of Guatemala threw them out.


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