We are very excited to announce the recipients of the 7th Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award!

Since 2016, this award has recognized and supported the efforts of youth groups in Guatemala using art to defend their territory and protect the environment. This award was created to honour the memory, life, and legacy of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco. As a young activist, leader, and artist from Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, Topacio drew, painted, sang songs, played guitar, and wrote poems to inspire other young people to defend their territory and rights. Like many others in Guatemala, Topacio was a victim of the violence and repression experienced daily by those who raise their voices to defend the land. On April 13th, 2014, at the age of 16, Topacio was murdered. Today her case remains in impunity, but Topacio’s legacy lives on through her family, community, and all those who continue to defend their territories and demand justice.

This year, we have received nominations that reflect the struggles faced by young people as a result of extractive industries, monoculture, government corruption, and various forms of structural violence. Youth are at the forefront of the struggle for climate justice and it is evident from all of the applications received that as a result, there is hope for Guatemala to thrive.

We are proud to recognize the work of the Grupo Juvenil en Defensa de Derechos Humanos, a group that has been organizing for the past 3 years in Aldea Volcancitos, Casillas, Santa Rosa that has been affected by the Canadian silver mine owned by Pan American Silver. Grupo Juvenil en Defensa de Derechos Humanos, uses music to push for respect for their rights as youth and defenders of the territory.

(Photo Credits to The Xinka Parliament)

Congratulations to Grupo Juvenil en Defensa de Derechos Humanos!

Our selection committee would also like to recognize Colectivo Chiviricuarta, a group situated in the Municipality of Palencia, Guatemala. For the past 3 years, the collective has been working with youth and art in order to rebuild the local fabric and rescue historical memory. In order to strengthen the leadership of adolescents, they have held street art workshops where they use street cinema, murals, and street libraries to engage in political education,  defense of their territory, and to reclaim public spaces.

(Photo Credits to: Colectivo Chivirvuarta)

In addition to the support of Topacio’s family, the Topacio Reynoso Pacheco Award is made possible through the support of Bows and Arrows Coffee, MiningWatch Canada, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, the United Steelworkers, the United Church Maritime Conference Committee on Justice, and the Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network.