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BTS Monthly Newsletter
Dear Breaking the Silence Network, 
This newsletter is bursting with announcements and opportunities just like the arrival of spring! We bring you concerning updates as to the worsening context surrounding the corruption and impunity of the Guatemalan judiciary with the exile of judge Erika Aifán and the removal from office of judge Pablo Xitimul. Not to be missed are updates concerning a large exposé around the El Estor mine which reveals repressive tactics employed to divide the communities and knowledge of environmental contamination of Lake Izabal.  Please see below for the link to register for the Annual Gathering this May, during which we will be visited by Wendy Mendez, plaintiff in the Military Diary Case, and information on how to apply for opportunities such as the Maritimes Coordinator position, the Cooperant Program, and a summer student job to help strengthen our Fair Trade coffee initiative. Finally, we also bring news of two exciting laws that have been introduced to Parliament that could really push forward corporate accountability in Canada! 

Yours in solidarity
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
Please Donate
Saturdays, 8am-1pm
BTS Coffee Project
Forum Farmers' Market in Halifax
May 27 - 29th, 2022
BTS Annual Gathering 
Tatamagouche Centre, NS
Rancho Bejuco 
The Rabinal Legal Clinic has begun to bring a new case to light known as the case of Rancho Bejuco. In March, First Declarations began for the 11 men accused in the massacre of Rancho Bejuco. The 25 people killed in the Rancho Bejuco massacre were mostly children (17 were minors), some as young as 8 months old. This case is particularly important as it shows the structures in place by the Guatemalan state, such as the army and civil patrols, and how the State coordinated with civil patrols in different municipalities to systematically destroy the Achi people.

Learn more about the case and how it has progressed to date, including the resignation of judge Erika Aifan, who was forced to flee Guatemala after numerous threats against her for her incredible work as an impartial judge.
Read the Report Back
The Importance of the Ruling in the 36 Maya Achi Women’s Case

The Maya Achi Women Survivors waiting to enter the courtroom on the day the verdict is to be read

On January 24, 2022, the High Risk Court "A" set a second precedent for sexual violence committed during the Internal Armed Conflict by sentencing Benvenuto and Bernardo Ruiz Aquino, Damián, Gabriel and Francisco Cuxum Alvarado to 30 years in prison for sexual violence against Achí women, between 1981 and 1983 in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz. 

However, despite the ruling and the reparations granted, the National General Ombudsperson’s Office has appealed the decision. From María Reyes, read about the importance of the court’s decision.
Read the full story
El Estor
A leak of 8 million documents, from financial reports to personal emails, has instigated an incredible effort by 65 journalists to shed light on the ghastly actions of the Soloway Group in El Estor, Guatemala. The Fenix Nickel project, first owned by Canadian companies, INCO, Skye Resources, and Hudbay Minerals, has been owned by the Swiss-Russian company Soloway Group since 2011.

The leaked documents show the repressive tactics employed to divide the communities opposing the project, such as spreading false rumours and the pros and cons of burning people’s crops, to their full knowledge about the contamination caused by the project in Lake Izabal. 

Check out Forbidden Stories for their pieces which link the various findings from the leak together.
Forbidden Stories
International Women’s Day 2022
In the Plaza de Niñas, families of the victims and survivors of the Hogar Virgen de la Asunción fire place flowers in the cardinal directions in preparation for a ceremony on the morning of International Women’s Day. Credits: Laura Robinson

International Women’s Day 2022 marked 5 years since the fire in the state-run home, the Hogar Virgen de la Asunción, led to the death of 41 girls and injury to 15 others. This crime has been labelled as a state femicide; however, for the families of the victims and the 15 survivors, justice has been a slow and difficult process. Implicated in the crime are government officials from all levels. The hearings have been arduously slow and the process has revictimized the survivors and families.

On International Women’s Day, 8 Tijax, a Collective which supports the families affected by this tragedy, visited the Hogar Virgen de la Asunción to hold a commemoration. 8 Tijax also held ceremony and commemoration events based at the Plaza de Niñas (The Girls’ Plaza). BTS has supported this commemoration for the past 5 years.
International Women's Day Update
The Growing Context of Corruption and Impunity 
During the first quarter of the year, several former and current judges and prosecutors in Guatemala have been arrested, pushed into exile, or removed from their position. Guatemala's justice system remains increasingly under the control of groups interested in maintaining a context of corruption and impunity. As part of their interest, they have instigated malicious prosecutions against independent officials. 

The persecution and threats to officials, former officials, and independent judges seems more like the persecution of those who have fought corruption and impunity in Guatemala. 
Read the update here
We're Hiring! Maritimes Coordinator
We are hiring for a new Maritimes Coordinator, a creative and thoughtful individual with a deep commitment to social justice who has intermediate Spanish language skills.

The successful candidate will coordinate BTS’s priority areas of work in Canada, including: Helping to formulate and support the network’s advocacy and solidarity initiatives; Supporting and animating BTS Local Committees in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. This will require regular travel throughout the year to meet with Local Committees; Creating effective communications within the BTS Network and with Guatemala partners Collaborating with other BTS staff, the BTS Community Council (CC), local, and working committees.
Full Job Description
Cooperant Program Applications Open! 

The Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) is recruiting a team of cooperants to serve in Guatemala for 3-12 months to support the work of our Guatemalan partners. As a BTS Cooperant, you will support Guatemalan organizations engaged in the struggle for defense of territory, truth justice and impunity, and human security.

Applications to become a cooperant are open to anyone seeking to increase their knowledge, skills, and practice of solidarity and human rights by serving as a Cooperant in Guatemala starting as early as the fall of 2022. 

Application Details
Fair Trade+ Coffee Marketing Summer Lead
Are you a student attending school in Nova Scotia looking for a job this summer?
We're looking to hire a student located in the Halifax Regional Municipality or Wolfville area passionate about human rights, solidarity, and marketing for the summer as a Fair Trade+ Coffee Marketing Summer Lead.

Interested applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with BTS and our Fair Trade coffee program through our website and the JustUs! website and apply before April 17th at 12am (midnight).

Job Description
Court rules Ottawa can maintain secrecy on aid to Goldcorp in human rights dispute
The Federal Court has ruled that the Canadian government is not legally required to disclose details about its diplomatic interventions on behalf of a Canadian mining firm accused of human rights abuse in Guatemala.  

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Shin Imai, a York University law professor and co-founder of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, requesting that Ottawa be ordered to remove redactions from documents it provided in response to an access-to-information request. 
Full Press Release
2 Bills Introduced to Protect People and the Planet in the House of Commons
Two private Members’ bills introduced in the House of Commons on March 29th, 2022 would, if passed, help protect people and the planet. These bills deserve all-party support.

Bill C-262, An Act respecting the corporate responsibility to prevent, address and remedy adverse impacts on human rights occurring in relation to business activities conducted abroad, would require companies to review all their business activities, identify actual and potential risks to people and the planet, take steps to mitigate the risks, and ensure remedy for those harmed. This is called human rights and environmental due diligence.

Bill C-263, An Act to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Responsible Business Conduct Abroad and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, also tabled today, would invest the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) with the powers needed to do its job.
Full Press Release
Register for the BTS Annual Gathering! 

Join us May 27-May 29th to renew connections and build new relationships within the Maritime BTS community!

During the annual gathering, 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. Jeremias Tecu will also join us for a BTS launch of In The Arms of Inup. Members will also have the opportunity to receive direct updates from staff and meet the new BTS cooperants.

Register Here
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