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BTS Monthly Newsletter
Dear Breaking the Silence Network, 

In the midst of the challenging and disheartening current context in Guatemala, our August newsletter brings several powerful stories about the continued resistance of our partners and of communities throughout Guatemala. Read below to find out more about COVID-19’s impact on the pre-consultation process in Xinka territory and how the current context is affecting criminalized land defenders from Chicoyogüito, Alta Verapaz to El Estor, Izabal. 

We are also excited to announce the 2021 recipients of the Annual Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award, which supports and recognizes the fight of youth groups throughout Guatemala using art to defend their territory!

Thank you all for your continued support, we hope to see you at an event this fall (read about several ways to get involved below!), either in person or virtually.

Yours in solidarity,
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
Please Donate
Saturdays, 8am-1pm
BTS Coffee Project
Forum Farmers' Market in Halifax
October 22-24 
BTS Annual Gathering 
Tatamagouche Centre, NS
November 6-7
Blue Nose Marathon
Nova Scotia
COVID-19 and Consultation
Photos taken during the pre-consultation phase meetings for the Escobal Mine (Photo credit: Xinka Parliament)

In Guatemala, the unfortunate social and economic effects of the pandemic are currently at their peak. In the face of this tragedy, the Guatemalan Government continues to insist that the priority is maintaining a stable economy.

Read the analysis offered by María Reyes, Mining Justice Facilitator, on the impact the pandemic has had on the consultation process for our partners:
Read more
Network Update with Festivales Solidarios
Photo taken of network members and Lucía Ixchíu from Festivales Solidarios during the Network Update
This month we conducted our second partner update with a visit from Lucía Ixchíu from Festivales Solidarios. Festivales Solidarios accompanies communities in resistance throughout Guatemala and were the recipients of the Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award in 2019! 

Lucía offered the network an in-depth analysis concerning the current context of the pandemic, discussing the sharp increase of criminalization in Guatemala for Indigenous land defenders and what that means for accompaniment and solidarity. We also heard updates on María Cuc Choc’s criminalization case, stemming from agro-business land evictions, and how her case fits into the ongoing persecution and genocide against Indigenous Peoples. 

Thank you Lucía for your deep insight and, most of all, for your tireless work. 

We will continue to bring the network updates from the El Estor region and updates on María Cuc Choc’s ongoing criminalization case throughout this fall. 
The Criminalization of Land Defenders from Chicoyogüito

Photo taken during a protest for the political prisoners arrested during the 2021 mobilization for the Chicoyogüito community. Signs read “We demand the return of our land that the state evicted us from July 28th 1968.” “We only demand what is ours.” “Freedom for the 21 political prisoners from Chicoyogüito.” (Photo Credit: Caso CREOMPAZ)

Chicoyogüito is a Q'eqchi' community which was evicted from their land in 1968 in order to establish a military base that was used as a detention and clandestine execution center during the Guatemalan Internal Armed Conflict. In the years after the war, the remains of 565 people have been found on this military base, representing the largest case of enforced disappearance in Latin America.

This June, during annual mobilizations to demand the return of their ancestral territories, 21 members of the Chicoyogüito community were arrested. 

Read the update from summer cooperant Tianqi Liu to learn more about this case of land defense and criminalization: 
Read More Here
Jeremías Hernandéz
July 24th, 2021, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network gives our condolences for the death of Jeremías Hernandéz, land defender and peasant leader of the Central de Organizaciones Indígenas Campesinas Ch’orti’ Nuevo Día (New Day Ch’orti’ Campesino Central Organization) who dedicated their life in the defence of the rights of the people. 
Bluenose Marathon Fundraiser
IN SEARCH OF: BTS’ers willing to run (or walk!) for their money! 

Register to participate in the Bluenose Marathon in Halifax, NS in support of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network! Join us in this annual FUNraising event to walk or run with the BTS team in the 10km event on Sunday, November 7th. There are some free registrations for those interested in raising money for the network!
To register contact:
Marla LeBlanc
call or text 506.878.0645
Please join us for our Annual Gathering in Tatamagouche, NS! We will make and refresh connections, receive updates on struggles in Guatemala and Mi’kmaki, and be renewed for ongoing support and action. We are excited to welcome our Guatemalan guest, Rony Lec, founder of the Meso-American Perma-Culture Institute (IMAP) for a Maritime Speaking Tour! We will also be joined by Jeremias Tecu, recently publishing In The Arms of Inup, the moving story of their life as a refugee in Guatemala and in Fredericton. 
Register Now!
Tierra, Amor, y Resistencia
This fall, 3 performances of Tierra, Amor, y Resistencia (Land, Love, and Resistance) have been scheduled throughout Nova Scotia. See the dates and locations below to catch this powerful spoken word performance written by Andrea Currie and recited alongside fellow members of the 2019 Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network delegation to Guatemala. This visual and poetic performance is a reflection on Indigenous land and water protection, ceremony, and healing from colonization in Guatemala and Mi’kmaki. 

Sept. 10th - Wolfville Waterfront in celebration of JustUs Coffee Roasters’ 10th anniversary 3-5pm 
Sept. 18th - Antigonish with the Antigonight Festival, 7pm
Oct. 17th - Tatamagouche at the Grace Jollymore Theatre
Annual Mabou Boat Tour Fundraiser
On Saturday, August 14th, 19 network members and guests boarded Captain Andy Rankin’s fishing boat, the Brown Eyed Girl, at Mabou Harbour for the annual Mabou Boat Cruise and fundraiser. They enjoyed beautiful weather, a fantastic view of Port Hood Island, good company, and a refreshing dip in the harbour! Thank you to all who attended! 
Activists Call for Protection of Xinka Leaders Participating in Escobal Mine Consultation
Since 2011, Xinka communities have organized to peacefully oppose the Escobal Mine, operated by the Canadian company, Pan American Silver. Since the beginning of the pre-consultation process for the Escobal mine was announced in October 2020, Xinka leaders participating in the peaceful resistance have faced an increase in threats, defamation, and attacks. Along with 6 other organizations and with an endorsement by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, BTS has submitted a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) supporting a request to extend precautionary measures for leaders Julio David González Arango, Juan Eduardo Donis, Pablo Adolfo Valenzuela Lima, Edwin Alexander Reynoso Bran, and Luis Fernando García Monroy. 
Read the letter
Congratulations to the Winners of the 6th Annual Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award!
During the past 6 years, the Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award has recognized and supported the efforts of youth groups in Guatemala fighting to protect the environment and their territories through the use of art or other creative forms of resistance. 

This award is dedicated in the memory of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco who lost her life at 16 as a result of her vocal opposition to the Escobal mine, a Canadian mining project in her community, Mataquescuintla, Jalapa. 

This year, the recipients of the award are Movimiento Ambiental Copalero, a group that has been organized for the past 7 years in a rural area of Huehuetenango, in the municipality of San Ildefonso Ixtahuacán. With this award they plan to build their own nursery to continue their reforestation efforts to continue healing their community. 

We are also happy to be extending an honourable mention to ONG ARTIIS Paz Artística, 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 rebuild social fabric and heal their territory. 

We are very thankful for the support of Topacio’s family. Additionally, this 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.
Read About the Winners
Fall Staffing Transitions
This fall will see a number of shifts within the BTS team. 

Este Chep, Lead Cooperant and Interim Guatemala Coordinator will be taking a leave of absence and Lisa Rankin will be returning as Guatemala Coordinator until August 2021. Laura Robinson will continue her work as a Northern-Based Cooperant will take on Maritimes-based initiatives such as the Fall Speaking Tour and the support of local committees while Maritimes Coordinator Stacey Gomez continues her leave until January 2022. María Reyes, Mining Justice Facilitator, will continue supporting our partners in Xinka Territory and El Estor, Guatemala. 

BTS would like to extend its thanks to Northern-Based Cooperant Indigo Christ and Summer Cooperants Ecem Akdeniz and Tianqi Liu for their invaluable contributions to the network. We wish you the best in your endeavours this upcoming fall and know that you will continue being involved with BTS in the future!
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