November 10. 2019

It’s a beautiful day in Guatemala!

Many of us journeyed here from Eastern Canada, through an earlier-than-we’d like snowstorm.  The sun and blue skies that greeted us were a very welcome change!

We all-with the exception of one group member, to join up with us a touch later-arrived on Saturday night in Guatemala City.  We took our rest, after our long trips, at a lovely hostel.

Warm breakfast, smiles and weather greeted us this morning, after our glorious rest.  We passed a pleasant morning climatizing to our group and place, in jovial spirits. 

Within steps of our hostel, we came upon a beautiful green space.  Lush plants dripping with blooms crowded the well-manicured square.  Our host explained to us that this was the site of the assassination of a Bishop who was a human rights defender. 

A few more steps brought us to a city street alive with music and colours, and face-to-face with other people who’d lost their lives in the defence of others.  Huge posters with photographs and names of people who had gone missing-been “disappeared” for their connections to social justice movements lined the streets. Their loved ones post the the pictures in hopes of learning what had happened to them, as they had been doing, some since the 1970s. 

The rest of our day unfolded much in the same way, with a mix of stunning beauty and harsh social realities.  We travelled from Guatemala City to Rabinal. Along the route we took in breath-taking scenery while learning of wanton environment degradation by corporations, elegant traditional clothing worn by locals and displacement and abuses visited upon Indigenous Peoples by mining companies, and charming “happening” neighbourhoods and the iron-fisted rule of local politics by elite families. 

Upon our arrival in Rabinal, three young boys, with smiles seemingly bigger than their impish faces, walked through the streets with their arms wrapped around each others’ shoulders.  It was striking that they were just kids being kids, spending a sunny day with their friends. Young people deserve to grow up and live in a country where they can expect their rights to be respected, be proud of who they are and to be safe and have every opportunity to contribute their unique talents to society.  They are much more precious than anything that ever could come out of a mine. We are here to learn how we can better work, wherever we are at the end of this trip, in solidarity with local partners to ensure that these boys faces never end up on “disappeared” posters. 

It’s a beautiful day in Guatemala.  We are honoured to begin to explore how we may contribute, through solidarity with our local partners, and holding decision-makers in our own home regions to account, to tomorrow being a beautiful day in Guatemala for everyone, whatever their social class, political affiliation, cultural identity or situation.

Read day 2