2020 has been an extremely challenging year in Guatemala. The Covid-19 pandemic has created desperate conditions. All of our BTS partners are now engaged in vital work providing basic supports and necessities, in addition to ongoing work building livelihoods and fighting for justice. Through this, we have been extremely fortunate to have BTS staff – thanks to you – actively engaged in helping our Guatemalan partners and friends navigate this very difficult situation. BTS remains a significant and respected ally of our Guatemalan partners, and it is essential that the critical roles of the BTS Coordinators in the Maritimes and Guatemala be maintained. Quite simply, without our coordinators, BTS could not have carried out the significant work described below.

We have seen remarkable signs of resilience, courage and hope this year, even as President Giammattei works to strengthen the role of Guatemalan military and police, while COVID-19 races through the country. In Rabinal, we continue to support 36 Maya-Achi women and their lawyer, Gloria Reyes, who courageously address sexual violence committed during the internal armed conflict.

As BTS has done since 2008, we accompany the women and man who are suing HudBay for the murder of Adolfo Ich, shooting of German Chub and gang rapes of 11 Q’eqchi’ women, as their cases move slowly through the Canadian court system.

Lisa Rankin’s accompaniment of the Xinka Parliament over several years has been valued by the Xinka Parliament as it continues its resistance to the Escobal mining project. In addition, Lisa’s support behind the scenes was invaluable.

Thanks to the Coordinators’ work, BTS has fundraised and distributed over $26,000 to our partners as they support their members and communities in the midst of ongoing repression and fear. Although BTS is not normally a fundraising organization, it was imperative to respond in this unprecedented time.

Este Chep, Lead Cooperant and Interim Guatemala Coordinator, remains in Guatemala, and offers regular communication with, and ongoing support to, our partners. In early 2020, Este oriented three BTS cooperants to work with the New Hope Foundation and Rabinal Community Legal Clinic, and to accompany the Xinka Parliament. Sadly they had to return to Canada in mid-March. However both Este and Stacey are working closely with the Cooperant Program Committee to establish a Maritimes-based Cooperant Program, while still planning to offer a Guatemala Cooperant Program in the future. Este has facilitated regular Zoom meetings that enable our partners to share their challenges and responses with BTS members. Lisa Rankin, our Guatemala Coordinator, on leave since April, returns to work mid-November. She will stay in Canada, due to pandemic restrictions, but will continue to organize, support and advocate until she can return to Guatemala. BTS must of course pay her a Canada-based salary, rather than a Guatemala-based salary, where the cost of living is lower.

We deeply appreciate the BTS Staffing Fund organisational supporters – Just Us! Fair Trade Coffee, United Church of Canada, PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada), CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees.) However, in order to reach our 2020 Staffing Fund budget goal, we need $20,000 in individual donations, through one-time donations and monthly pledges. We ask you to consider starting or increasing a monthly pledge, by filling out the form below. Quite simply, we will not meet our goal without your support.

Your donation, however big or small, will help the BTS network to respond to urgent human rights and community development challenges alongside our Guatemalan partners. Your gift will help to ensure that our work – firmly grounded in principles of solidarity and social justice – will continue.

In solidarity,
The BTS Fundraising Committee: Janelle Frail, Kathryn Anderson, Marie Claire Brisbois, Marla LeBlanc, Moira Peters, Tessa Wheaton


  • Online donations can be made here. Please write: “BTS Staffing Campaign” in the comments section of the donation page. *Please note that the Tatamagouche Centre donation form now includes an option for monthly giving.
  • Online through Canada Helps, making sure apply your donation to the “Breaking the Silence-Maritimes-Guatemala Solidarity Network fund.”