Asociación de Jóvenes Para el Desarrollo y Rescate Social (Youth Association for Development and Social Recovery), San Luis Jilotepeque Jalapa – 2017 Winners of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award.
September 22, 2017
The 2017 winner of the Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award is the Asociación de Jóvenes Para el Desarrollo y Rescate Social (Youth Association for Development and Social Recovery), San Luis Jilotepeque, Jalapa. The award was officially presented to the group on September 18, 2017 by the Reynoso Pacheco family in San Luis Jilotepeque and BTS Coordinator, Lisa Rankin, on behalf of the international organizations that contribute to the annual prize.
Since 2011, the Asociación de Jóvenes Para el Desarrollo y Rescate Social has been active youth organization which demands positive change in their municipality. Recognizing the importance and power of youth organizing, their group formed during a series of political training workshops given by national organizations. Now playing a leadership role in their communities, they give that same political training workshop to other youth, growing a movement for social change. The collective is diverse, with participation of youth from 14 to 28 years old, both Indigenous and Mestizo, professionals, farmers, and of diverse sexual orientations. The group was involved in organizing the community consultation in their municipality, where over 99% of voters said no to metallic mining in their community.
“We are very happy and grateful. This will strengthen our struggle and the work we have done up to now as a youth group. This will allow us to continue our struggle for our territory,” said Sulma Gomez, one of the founders of the youth group.
The award was created to recognize and remember the contributions of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco from Mataquescuintla, Jalapa who was murdered in April 2014. Topacio was a musician and artist, as well as co-founder of a youth group in her community which opposed the operation of the Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine located 6 km from her town. The award honours youth groups in Guatemala which use art and music to promote community involvement and protection of the environment and is accompanied by a $1000 US contribution to the organization.
“The award, more than anything, is to uphold Topacio’s memory,” says Irma Pacheco, the youth’s mother. “She is still alive in the many young people who continue the resistance, who dream, as she did, of completing their projects.”
The winners this year plan to use the funds to purchase a camera to be used to increase their communications capacity. Co-founder and coordinator of the Asociación, José David Esteban López stated, “We are pleased that we will be able to acquire a camera to be able to demonstrate to the rest of Guatemala and the world what is happening in our municipality through videos and photos.”
Contributing organizations include Church in Action Committee, Maritime Conference, United Church of Canada, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, MiningWatch Canada, United Steelworkers.