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BTS Monthly Newsletter
Dear Breaking the Silence Network, 

The beginning of 2022 has been filled with action in the realm of transitional justice. While 2021 left Guatemala in an increasingly precarious situation for human rights defenders and those fighting corruption and impunity, we are excited to share with you a major win for the Rabinal Legal Clinic in the case of the 36 Maya Achi women survivors of sexual violence. We also bring you an update on the COVID-19 situation, including the impacts of the new variant, and updates about Cerro Blanco, a very concerning cross-border mining project. 

We look forward to connecting with you in our next virtual event and through new urgent actions we will take this year. Here's to seeing you in the near future! 

Yours in solidarity,
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
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Guilty Verdict delivered in the 36 Maya Achi Women Survivors of Sexual Violence Case

In the plaza of the Supreme Court in Guatemala City, supporters of the 36 Maya Achi women gather to celebrate the guilty verdict delivered by the High Risk Court on January 24th, 2022. Photo Credit: Este Chep
During the month of January, BTS staff provided daily accompaniment to the Rabinal Legal Clinic for the trial of the 36 Maya Achi women survivors of sexual violence during the Internal Armed Conflict in Guatemala City. Justice in this case has been long-awaited and there have been many obstacles placed in the paths of these women, but we are very pleased to announce the conviction of 5 ex-civil-patrol members for crimes against humanity, resulting in 30-year sentences for the crimes committed from 1981 to 1984.

You can read the daily updates written on our blog.
Read the Updates
COVID-19 Update
A Guatemalan healthcare worker receives one of the donated vaccines. Photo Credit: Prensa Libre
COVID-19 has had enormous health, social, and economic impacts, claiming a very high number of lives in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Vaccination is progressing slowly, especially in rural areas outside of the capital in Indigenous territories. As the omicron variant spreads in Guatemala, the risk for citizens and the harm done by potential corruption worsens.
Read the full update by Maria Reyes
 Military Diary Case (Caso Diario Militar)
The Military Diary Case (Caso Diario Militar) is founded on an uncovered document revealing the illegal detentions and murders of individuals considered internal enemies during the Internal Armed Conflict (IAC) and genocide in Guatemala from August 1983 until March 1985. Many of these people were killed and disappeared, never to be seen again by their families, simply for being outspoken activists. 

In January, ​​Malfred Orlando Pérez Lorenzo, who worked with the national police and a security company known for illicit dealings was captured and linked to the process for crimes of forced disappearance and crimes against humanity. The case is entering the intermediary phase when the defence and prosecution will present all evidence to the judge, Miguel Angel Galvez. During this stage, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial.

What has been particularly impactful during the Military Diary Case are the statements that family members of the murdered and disappeared have been permitted to make at the hearings. At this most recent declaration hearing for Pérez Lorenzo, Manuel Farfán, a relative of the disappeared stated: “our relatives were never brought before a court to be heard, a right which the accused has.”

In case you missed it, in late 2021 BTS hosted an evening of conversation with family members involved in the military diary case, Hiram Muralles Paz and Elisa Meza Paniagua. This conversation has been recorded and posted to our blog alongside a longer update.
Catch up Here
Cerro Blanco: a project with transboundary consequences
Community in resistance to the Cerro Blanco mine holding a press conference. Signs behind them read “No to the Cerro Blanco Mine: We defend the River Basin Ostúa, Guija, Lempa… For water, life, for the dignity of the people…” Photo Credits: Ruda
The Cerro Blanco mine is marketed as the country’s second-largest gold and silver deposit but since its approval in  2007, has been unable to produce even an ounce of gold. However, in December of 2021, communities in resistance to the project in both Guatemala and El Salvador raised the alarm that the Canadian mining company, Bluestone Resources, was planning to reactivate the mine using the same environmental impact study presented 14 years ago, but with a change to the operation of the mine that alarmed the communities and environmental organizations. 

Read the full update about the proposal to convert the Cerro Blanco mine to an open-pit mine, written by Mining Resistance Facilitator, Maria Reyes:
Read the Update
Communities demand the definitive closure of the Cerro Blanco mining project
On February 7th, communities affected by the Cero Blanco Marine met with Congress and the relevant ministries to demand their consultation and the closure of the mine given the potentially catastrophic effects on the health of humans and the environment. BTS accompanied this meeting. Read a letter published by the communities and supporting organizations on our blog: 
Read the Letter Here
Mining Resistance: Forms, Functions and Futures
Last month we hosted the second webinar in a series of interactive, informative, online events. This second webinar focused on the various forms of mining resistance in Canada and Guatemala. The afternoon was facilitated by past intern Kristine Johnston and included many special guests: 

Lisa Rankin, BTS Director of Guatemala Programs Spoke about our Guatemala Partners in the El Estor and Xinka regions. Hannah Martin, a social justice advocate based in Mi’kmaki Spoke about her experiences with BTS in Guatemala in her personal experiences engaging in international, national, and local advocacy. Karen McKendry, Wilderness Outreach Coordinator at Ecology Action Center Spoke about her work and local advocacy resisting mining in Nova Scotia. And finally, Emily Dwyer the National Coordinator at the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability gave an overview of national campaigning in Canada for more regulation for Canadian companies and the current efforts that BTA as a member of the CNCA is pursuing.
View a recording of the event
BTS Annual Gathering 2022 - Mark Your Calendars! 
We are very excited to announce the date of our next Annual Gathering in the hopes of reconnecting and joining together in solidarity this spring, May 27 - 29th, 2022 at the Tatamagouche Center in Nova Scotia!
Throughout the pandemic and certainly over the decades, the solidarity of the BTS network has been integral for building relationships between our partners in Guatemala struggling for justice and the Maritime region. Join us in May to renew these connections and build new relationships within the Maritime BTS community. 
We will be joined by great speakers, including Wendy Mendez, a long-time friend of the network who has been an outspoken plaintiff in the Military Diary Case, (Wendy on the CBC), and Jeremias Tecu who will join us for a BTS launch of In The Arms of Inup, Jeremias’ moving story of his life as a refugee in Guatemala and in Fredericton, written by Eve Mills Allen. Members will also have the opportunity to receive direct updates from staff and meet the new BTS cooperants. 

A registration link will be coming your way soon!
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