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BTS Monthly Newsletter
Dear Breaking the Silence Network, 

Wishing you the happiest of Human Rights Days! On this and every day, we hope you find ways to celebrate, renew your spirit, and continue to plant seeds of change.

We are so thankful to look back and reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year. In this newsletter, we bring you several updates: including the Maya Achi Womens' case with the Rabinal Legal Clinic, the State of Siege in El Estor, and our ongoing accompaniment of Xinka communities in resistance to the Escobal Mine.

We also take time to celebrate our successes, including the fundraising team and generous donors who recently won a prize associated with the Bluenose Marathon Fundraiser!

The newsletter also contains plenty of calls to action to get involved, even as the year is coming to an end! 

Yours in solidarity,
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
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The Impact of Mining Exploitation and the 2021 State of Siege for the Q’eqchi’ communities of El Estor
(Street art depicting the violent reprisal against the Maya Q’eqchi’ communities of El Estor. Including the peaceful Indigenous mining resistance who faced violent reprisal of state forces, such as the use of tear gas. Also depicting the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of Chinebal, El Estor, who experienced the theft of their ancestral land through the eviction and burning of their homes. "El Estor Resists" Photo Credits: María Guarchaj, Maya K'iche' journalist @marycarr09)

On October 25, 2021, the Guatemalan Congress ratified a State of Siege in the municipality of Estor, Izabal, Guatemala. States of siege allow the Government to restrict certain articles of the Constitution within a municipality, including the provisions which provide for freedom of action, legal detention, interrogation of detainees and prisoners, the rights to assembly and demonstration, and the right to bear arms. Due to this state of siege, the peaceful demonstrations of the Q'eqchi' communities have once again been criminalized with extrajudicial detentions, illegal arrests, and raids on the homes of human rights defenders.

What is happening in El Estor and what has been the previous impact of mining exploitation in the region?
Read the Article
Congratulations to Mataquescuintla and San Carlos Alzatate on the anniversary of their municipal consultations!
It is our great pleasure to congratulate the communities of Mataquescuintla and San Carlos Alzatate who are celebrating the 9th and 5th anniversaries (respectively) of their municipal consultations, where over 98% of people voted against metallic mining in their communities. Both Mataquescuintla and San Carlos Alzatate are active in the peaceful encampments to stop mine-related traffic from entering the Escobal mine. These encampments have effectively suspended the project since 2017. The Escobal mine is owned by Canadian company Pan American Silver. Both communities also have representatives in the ongoing community consultation under the ILO 169 regulation regarding the Escobal project. 

See below for the sign-on letters in congratulations to Mataquescuintla y San Carlos Alzatate:
Read the letters
Gabriel Cuxum will face trial along with brother and 4 others for sexual violence against 36 Achi Women
Photo captured during the initial audience for Francisco Cuxum Alvarado in 2020. Photo Credits: Verdad Justicia Guatemala 
On Tuesday, November 16, High Risk Court judge Miguel Angel Galvez declared there is sufficient evidence to send Gabriel Cuxum, former civil patroller to trial on January 4, 2021. He is charged with crimes against humanity, sexual violence, and using a false identity, which allowed him to elude capture for the various crimes he committed during the 1980s, including his involvement in the Rio Negro massacre on March 13, 1982.

Both Gabriel and his brother Francisco are accused of numerous acts of sexual violence in the community of Xococ, where they are from. They will stand trial with three other former civil patrollers, including their other brother, Damian Cuxum Alvarado, on January 4, 2022. 
Sign the Petition from the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability!
With a goal of 10,000 signatures, the petition calls upon the House of Commons to adopt human rights and environmental due diligence legislation to establish a legal right for people who have been harmed to seek justice in Canadian courts and enshrine due diligence measures to prevent harm.
Sign the petition
ACTION: Act now to demand an end to evictions in Guatemala
Access to land is one of the main issues impacting communities and farmers in Guatemala. 90% of the land is in the hands of only 10% of the people. When large landowners and multinational corporations want to further expand operations, the Guatemalan government uses the police and military to violently remove Indigenous communities, forcing them to hide in the mountains while their homes burn. In the context of a global pandemic, the Guatemalan government continues to evict communities, with no health protocols or alternative housing in place.

We call on the Canadian government to use diplomatic pressure to ensure no more evictions of communities occur. Please write to the Canadian Minister of Global Affairs and the Canadian Embassy to express your concern using the template below: 
Take Action Now
Bluenose Marathon Team wins $2500!
(Halifax Participants on left: Marla LeBlanc, Yvette Michaud, Kathryn Anderson, Janette Fecteau, Anne MacDonald Martin, Yves LeBlanc, Troy Deware, Melanie Deware, and Paul Martin PEI participants on right: Eliza MacLauchlan, Myrna Wicks, Jim Wicks, Rosalind Waters, Leo Cheverie, Ryan MacRae, Claire Byrne. Photo credits: Lou Richard)
This fall, Members of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network participated in the Bluenose Marathon 10-km fundraiser. Volunteers united in Halifax at the Bluenose event and the Prince Edward Island committee organized an independent trek across the Northumberland Strait in PEI. 

Through the generosity of our supporters and the dedication of participants, we were able to far exceed our initial fundraising goal of $8,000, raising a total of $16,235.14! This success made it possible to win an award from the Bluenose Event organizers in their Charity Challenge, bumping our total to 18,735.14!

We are very thankful for the support of all those who made donations and spread the word about our fundraising. This fundraiser makes possible the solidarity work BTS has been committed to for the past three decades in Guatemala with our partners. Without the generosity of many contributors, our ability to provide accompaniment, respond to urgent actions, and leverage advocacy in Canada would be greatly diminished in these difficult times. Thank you for your solidarity, support, and dedication! 
Read the Full Story
Solidarity Through Coffee Webinar Now Online
On December 6th, 2021, we held an online webinar focused on learning, interacting, and taking collective action. Facilitated by Keely Carter, member of the 2019 delegation to Guatemala, we discussed how BTS coffee, produced in partnership with the Highland Committee of Small Farmers (CCDA) and JustUs! Coffee Roasters supports Indigenous communities in Guatemala organizing to defend their land and human rights. We also explored the variety of different fair trade certifications and looked behind the curtain of coffee pricing.
Watch the Webinar
Sounding the alarm: Canada must address a growing crisis in Guatemala
An article published by the Americas Policy Group (APG) in The Hill Times paper, November 24, 2021. The article puts forward that the new Foreign Affairs Minister, Mélanie Joly, must prioritize the deteriorating threats to democracy and human rights defenders in Guatemala as when speaking out in support of civil society leaders and organizations. 
Read the article
Fall Staffing Fund Campaign
The last year has been challenging in many ways. Some things in life can be changed and made better, while others remain out of our control. We can however have an impact on the human rights struggles in Guatemala and Canada.

With your generous donation, our Maritime-Guatemalan network can continue to support the efforts of Guatemalans who struggle for political, social, and economic justice. Your donation will help us undertake essential activities related to advocacy and lobbying as well as organize delegations, send interns, volunteers, and human rights accompaniers. 
Make your Contribution!
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