We are very excited to announce the recipients of the 6th annual Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award!
Since 2016, this award has recognized and supported the efforts of youth groups in Guatemala who engage in creative resistance to defend their territory by inspiring youth to organize and use art for the protection of the environment. This award was created to honour the legacy of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco. As a young activist, leader, and artist from Mataquescuintla, Jalapa she drew, painted, sang songs, played the guitar, and wrote poetry to engage other youth in the defence of their territory and rights. Like many other people in Guatemala, Topacio was a victim of the violence and repression experienced by those who raise their voices to defend the land on a daily basis. On April 13, 2014, at the age of 16, Topacio was assassinated. Today her case remains in impunity but her legacy remains an inspiration to her family, community, and youth resisting the repression and violence of megaprojects.
This year we received applications from across Guatemala reflecting the struggles youth face as a result of extractivist industries, monocropping, government corruption, and various forms of structural violence. We recognize that youth are at the front of the fight for climate justice and the applications received demonstrate the hope we have!
This year, we are proud to recognize the work of Movimiento Ambiental Copalero (Environmental Movement Copalero), a group that has been organizing for the past 7 years in a rural area of Huehuetenango, San Ildefonso Ixtahuacán. They have leveraged murals to speak out about the destruction of their community’s environment and deforestation due to an open-pit mine and the burning of solid waste. The group also spread their message through radio shows, reforestation activities, and visits to schools. They plan to create their own nursery to continue their reforestation efforts to continue healing their community.
Congratulations to Movimiento Ambiental Copalero (Environmental Movement Copalero)!
We are also happy to be extending an honourable mention to ONG ARTIIS Paz Artística (NGO ARTIIS Artistic Peace), a group that has been organizing for the past 11 years. Based in the capital and working with communities in resistance around the country, this group has been inspiring others through festivals, experiential workshops, and parades to engage in rebuilding social fabric and healing their territory.
In addition to the support of the Reynoso Pacheco family, the award is made possible by its generous sponsors: Bows and Arrows Coffee, MiningWatch Canada, the Solidarity Network Against Mining Injustice, United Steel Workers, the United Church Maritime Conference Committee on Justice, Mission and Outreach, and the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network.