By Anissa Aldridge On Tuesday, May 8th, the BTS delegation arrived in Rio Negro. The following morning, the group hiked to Pacoxom, where we gained a more in-depth understanding of the various massacres that took place in that area. Pacoxom was the site of the March 13, 1982 massacre in which 177 mostly women and children were killed. It was one of several massacres committed in the area to advance the Chixoy hydroelectric dam, funded by the World Bank.

Hike to PacoxomPhoto credit: Stacey Gomez

Don Julian, a sixty-three year-old survivor of one of the massacres in Rio Negro, slowly climbs to the top of the mountain and I wonder what he is thinking about. I can’t help but think that maybe this is his way of healing and coming to terms with what has happened. At the monument he tells his story and I know that we can’t possibly begin to understand the depth of his loss. As we sit and look over the peaceful tranquility of the area it is impossible to comprehend the horrific atrocities that have taken place there. I admire the resilience and profound commitment of those who have come back to settle here in Rio Negro. Their struggle to survive and their hope for a better future for their children while they honour their past is an inspiration to us all. I’m somehow grateful for the sharing of all these stories and their account of what happened to their loved ones. Looking forward to learning so much more over the next several days.