For the past ten years, BTS has heard from Guatemala partners about the impacts that Canadian mining companies have had on their communities. We’ve heard about water sources drying up, contamination of water, land and air; we’ve talked with mothers who can’t understand why their kids are getting sick and the elderly who have experienced rashes and never-before experienced illnesses. We’ve seen houses with cracks in the wall so big your hand could pass through. We’ve heard accounts of violence, harassment and threats, broken promises and idle recommendations.
Because they defend their territory, their life, communities have been called terrorists and anti-development. We call them human rights defenders, stewards of the land. Protectors of the earth. We believe we are intimately bound in this struggle and that it’s our responsibility to make sure that there are enduring changes.
The BTS mining justice campaign seeks to give voice to these struggles in a radical way. Patience is running out; soon the company will pack up its bags and its gold and leave town. What will be left of San Miguel Ixtahuacan and Sipakapa? Who will put the sacred mountains back together and ensure the water is drinkable?
Through education events in the fall of 2015 and spring 2016, we hope to reach broader audiences and ask provocative questions. We will consider the merits of divestment: how can personal and institutional divestment happen? What is the impact of that? How else do we communicate with shareholders about the impacts that their investments are having on communities?