Many thanks to everyone who helped make Crisanta Perez’s tour in Canada a meaningful experience. Crisanta is an indigenous Maya Mam woman who has been struggling for the past 10 years to make Canada’s Goldcorp Inc. accountable for it’s gold mine in her backyard. Events in Ottawa at the time of Truth and Reconciliation Closing Events, Montreal, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Halifax, Tatamagouche and Toronto were diverse and spoke to the ongoing struggle for justice and accountability in San Miguel Ixtahuacan and all communities surrounding Goldcorp’s projects in San Marcos. It also made so clear the message that “No to Mining in our Territory!” is a just, valid and necessary right for indigenous peoples to declare in face of large scale projects that threaten to destroy a way of life, of sacred water and Mother Earth. As Crisanta said a number of times, “When I speak of territory, I mean life.”
Crisanta was also the key-note speaker at the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network Annual Gathering at Tatamagouche Centre, June 12-14. There, she spoke a heartfelt message about watching the sacred medicines from the nearby mountains be destroyed and how she would weep when she told her kids that they wouldn’t have what she once had; that it was destroyed for the gold. She talked about being threatened and intimidated by state security forces, the municipal mayor and neighbours. She let us know that 14 of the 18 communities that were ordered to have potable water by the IACHR still don’t have it, and those who do have had to pay for it. She spoke of courage, fear, uncertainty and resilience and almost twenty years of deceit, lies and destruction that the Marlin mine has brought. She also spoke about community transformation, support and commitment.
Meetings with indigenous leaders and activists on Turtle Island was also a significant part of her experience and BTS is grateful for having the opportunity to make the links between common struggles for justice, dignity and respect. Thank you to those who took the time to meet with Crisanta and for sharing your own experiences of criminalization and struggle and your vision and commitment to a better future for us all. It was important for her to get to know the land and the struggles; she told me it made her stronger and that she would go home remembering she wasn’t alone.
Crisanta recently returned to Guatemala and we look forward to continuing to support the work of Fredemi and communities in resistance in the weeks and months, and unfortunately, probably years, to come. But we do this together in solidarity as we listen, act and grown together to make this a world where all life is respected. Many thanks for being part of this visit. Personally, it was a profound experience and I am grateful to Crisanta and all of you who helped make it happen. I offer deep gratitude as we move forward in this struggle.
Below is the solidarity statement that BTS wrote to Fredemi, the Alliance in Defense of San Miguel Ixtahuacan. I have also including the links to the media pieces that were published – many thanks to folks who made this happen (and if you have more, please send them on!).
In peace and friendship,
Jackie McVicar, Coordinator, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network
Crossing the line for the land: indigenous land defenders share stories as Canada passes Bill C-51 Written by Tracy Glynn on June 10, 2015 http://nbmediacoop.org/2015/06/10/crossing-the-line-for-the-land-indigenous-land-defenders-share-stories-as-canada-passes-bill-c-51/
Crisanta Perez talks about her community’s struggle against Goldcorp and by default, Canada by MILES HOWE http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/been-jail-justice/33648
Verdad, reconciliación y minería, Por Luis Alberto Laborda Radio Canada International (in Spanish) http://www.rcinet.ca/es/2015/06/03/verdad-reconciliacion-y-mineria/
BTS Solidarity Letter to Fredemi (read below; link here)
Tatamagouche, NS, Canada
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Greetings from the Maritimes Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network. BTS is a network that has been working for the past twenty five years to bring awareness in Canada about issues facing Guatemalans who are courageously working for justice.
From June 12-14, 2015, 40 members of our network gathered in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada for our annual assembly. It was an opportunity for us to learn about the work of the network in the past year and to plan for upcoming actions within the network.
As you know Gregoria Crisanta Perez Bamaca de Gonzalez was invited by BTS to participate in a two week speaking tour, where she spoke to dozens of Canadians about the issues she and others in San Miguel Ixtahuacan face in light of the Marlin mine and other Goldcorp Inc. projects in the area. In addition, Crisanta joined us for our assembly and we were honored to hear from her about the challenging situations in your communities. She also met with indigenous leaders in Canada who are struggling for justice and communities in resistance to gas and oil projects in their communities.
Her stories reminded us of the impacts that the Marlin Mine, which has been operating illegally in your territory for the past 10 years. Crisanta shared with us the social, environmental and health effects of the mining activities within your communities and your struggle to make the company accountable for these actions. She detailed how local, municipal and State authorities, along with the company, have consistently denied the responsibility to supply potable water to 18 communities surrounding the mine, as outlined by the precautionary measures ordered by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights.
Crisanta also spoke about the importance of FREDEMI and its work as a coalition to bring together the voices of men and women impacted who have faced similar situations. She gave thanks to the legal support that FREDEMI and petitioners of the complaint filed to the Inter American Commission for Human Rights have received. She spoke of her own criminalization and that of other men and women who bravely stand up and speak out to defend their territory and life.
Because of what has happened in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, and other communities across Guatemala, and the fact that no consultation, let alone free, prior and informed consent about the mine took place, Crisanta spoke about the need to make political changes. We commend the work of FREDEMI and the Civil Committee for their work to educate the people about the impacts of the mine and also the responsibility of elected officials to work on behalf of the community. We wish you success as you continue your work in the weeks and months to come.
We have been working on mining justice and holding Goldcorp and other Canadian mining companies accountable for their actions for almost 10 years and Crisanta presence and your courageous struggle reminds of the importance of continuing and strengthening these efforts.
Crisanta was a wonderful speaker who helped us not only learn about the issues but also the reasons why she and others are motivated to do this work for their communities, families and future generations and Mother Earth. We respect your decision to say “NO!” to mining in your territory and support your work to defend that decision.
Your struggle is just, important and right and we send you strength and solidarity. We also look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship as we work together.
Maritimes Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network