Get the latest updates from the BTS Maritimes-Guatemala Network and our partners in the March 2021 newsletter.

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Dear members, 

As March thaws winter to spring, it marks many anniversaries within the BTS network. In this newsletter, we bring you news from the celebrations of the 39th anniversary of the Highlands Committee of Small Farmers (CCDA), along with updates from our friends at 8 Tijax commemorating 4 years of their search for justice for the Hogar Seguro fire. March also marks the Rio Negro massacre at Pacoxom in 1982 and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 which has had profound impacts on our partners and wider network members. We also say ‘see you soon’ to Lisa Rankin as she embarks on new adventures.

Please read on to learn more news from the network, and don’t forget to participate in the latest urgent action to support the peaceful resistance against the Escobal mine, owned by the Canadian company Pan American Silver. 

In Solidarity, 
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network 
Please Donate
Saturdays, 8am-1pm
BTS Coffee Project
Forum Farmers' Market in Halifax
October 22-24, 2021 
BTS Annual Gathering 
Tatamagouche, NS 
Top Three Things Happening in Guatemala Right Now 
Cooperant Indigo Christ has written an update on three of the most pressing issues currently occupying Guatemalan news. Marking women’s history month and the one-year anniversary of the global pandemic, March has brought an acute awareness and action for the increase of gender-based violence in Guatemala over the past year. Indigo also writes of the arrival of the first vaccines to Guatemala and of the wide-spread concern over the recent Constitutional Court elections.
Photo Credit: Red de Comunicadoras indigenas Juan N’aoj
Read the Full Story
Constitutional Court Affirms the Protection of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive
Outside of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (Credit: Stacey Gomez)

The Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive safeguards evidence of the atrocities committed during the Internal Armed Conflict. The previous Morales government sought to limit access to the archives and the current Ministry of Culture refused to sign a renewal agreement to continue the preservation of the archive. However, due to a recent ruling at the Constitutional Court affirming a previous decision of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Culture must refrain from adopting measures which would threaten the integrity of the Archive. 

This Archive has proven vital for fighting impunity by helping to deliver over 30 convictions to date. In 2020, Giammattei closed the vital transitional justice institutions that had been created by the Peace Accords. Threats to the Archive and threats to these institutions are threats to justice and historical memory.
Update from 8 Tijax- 4 Years Since Fire at Virgen de Asuncion State-Run Home
2021 March 8th Commemoration of the Hogar Seguro Fire (Photo credit: 8 Tijax)

The families, survivors, and collective 8 Tijax organized a beautiful commemoration on Monday, March 8th, outside the state-run home Virgen de Asuncion marking four years since the fire which killed 41 girls and injured 15 others. The girls were being held in a locked classroom as punishment after protesting their dire living conditions and treatment.

This year’s commemoration outside the doors of the building included music, prayers, and a stunning artistic interpretation of the fire through contemporary dance. For the first time, the faces of the 41 girls were made public. 

Our friends from 8 Tijax sent along an update marking these four years, including an update on the legal proceedings.
Read the Full Update from 8 Tijax
The CCDA's 39th Anniversary Celebration
Photo contributed the CCDA

BTS would like to congratulate the Comite de Campesinos del Altiplano (CCDA) which is celebrating 39 years of struggle and resistance! The CCDA continues to support small farmers through their agro-food programs, for access to land and territory and political representation in Guatemala. 

¡¡Felicidades CCDA! No están solxs!! 
ICYMI: Carlos Cano speaks on Festivales Solidarios work in Guatemala
At our Website Launch and Social in February, we heard from Carlos Cano from Festivales Solidarios about the important work they're doing in Guatemala and the threats they are facing. Festivales Soldarios is a group of Indigenous and Mestizo youth in Guatemala which uses art and social media in resistance to defend territory, historical memory and raise awareness of political prisoners in Guatemala. They are also a past winner of the Topacio Award! 

In case you missed it, check out a recording from the event. Here's an excerpt from his talk: “They call us seditionists, terrorists. The only thing we do is show what is happening in Guatemala and our only crime is art, media, graphic design to show and protest the methods the government and extractive companies are using in Guatemala.”

English captions are available for this video! To ensure they are activated, click on the cc button which is located along the bottom of the video on desktop and the top of the video on mobile.
It’s not too late: Sign the petition to demand that Pan American Silver stop fueling violence 
Photo Credit: The Xinka Parliament 

Since January, six members of the peaceful resistance to Pan American Silver’s Escobal mine have suffered attacks and death threats. 

On January 16th, Julio David González Arango was shot at his home by armed assailants. That very same day two other outspoken opponents received calls and text messages saying that they would be next. On February 7th, Luis Fernando Garcia Monroy, another opponent of the mine and a member of the Xinka Parliament was threatened in his community. He was also one of the wounded during a 2013 attack.   

The company's continued interference in communities is making the situation worse. Join us in calling on Pan American Silver to respect the Xinka people’s right to be freely consulted without violence and threats, and immediately cease its interference in Xinka communities.
Sign the petition
Not Goodbye- But See You Later

This marks my last newsletter after 9 years of updating you all on the amazing work of our partners. It has been a pleasure to write to you alongside Wyanne Sandler, Jackie McVicar, Stacey Gomez, Este Chep, Indigo Christ, and Laura Robinson. A special shout-out to Este, who will be replacing me as Guatemala Coordinator.

I do not have the words to express my gratitude for your continued support over these years, and I can only restate my commitment to continue to support BTS and our partners, albeit in a new way, for the years to come.

Please stay in touch and I look forward to seeing you when we are allowed to gather once more.

Lisa Rakin
Outgoing BTS Guatemala Coordinator
Stacey Will be Away from April to July
Dear friends, 

I’m writing to let you know that I’m going to be away from BTS for a few months. I’ll be away as of April 9th and will be returning in August. Incoming BTS Guatemala Coordinator Este Chep, and Cooperants Laura Robinson and Indigo Christ will be taking on my areas of responsibility while I’m away.

I look forward to connecting with you once I’m back! 

Stacey Gomez
BTS Maritimes Coordinator
Lawsuit Alleges Canadian Government is Improperly Withholding Info About its Support for Goldcorp
Goldcorp’s Marlin mine (Photo Credit: Lisa Rankin)

From the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability: 

Heavily redacted documents show Canadian officials lobbied decision-makers in Guatemala & the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in support of Goldcorp, a company accused of human rights abuse at its Marlin mine. A new lawsuit alleges Canada improperly withheld additional info about its support for Goldcorp that under Canada’s Access to Information Act Canadians have a right to see. The Canadian government chose to go to court rather than disclose the documents, what else did it do to support Goldcorp?

For more details about the lawsuit and a timeline of events at the Marlin Mine:
Click Here
Events Supported by the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
This winter, Tertulias Fredericton has put together a series on activists and social movements that have shaped our lives and allowed us to imagine a better future.

What is a tertulia? A tertulia can be described as a kind of philosophy café where participants talk about big thinkers, artists and ideas. 

Tertulias Fredericton is supported by the NB Media Co-op, publisher of videos of the Tertulia talks, the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network, book publishers Fernwood, Between the Lines, Verso and Canadian Scholars | Women's Press.

Upcoming Tertulias

March 24 - Basil Alexander, Assistant Professor of Law, University of New Brunswick, on Dudley George and the Ipperwash Inquiry. 

March 31 - Caroline Ennis, organizer of the 1979 Tobique Women's March to Ottawa, on how she and other Tobique women organized to stop gender discrimination in the Indian Act. 

April 14 - Jason MacLean, Assistant Professor of Law, University of New Brunswick, on Greta Thunberg, #FridaysForFuture and the Lessons of Youth Climate Activism.

For more information, visit Tertulias Fredericton on Facebook or contact:

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