(I have edited this post to reflect the changing nature of this blog)
I originally created this blog to share the stories others shared with me, as well as my thoughts, while traveling around and living in Guatemala.
I am no longer living in Guatemala, but hope to continue to stay connected with movements based there, and remain dedicated to continue to support resistance to the Canadian extractive industry over here in Canada.
I began my first trip to Guatemala on a Human Rights Delegation with Rights Action.We traveled to various parts of the country investigating environmental and health harms as well as human rights violations caused by large-scale development projects, particularly in the extractive industry. This served as a lens through which to look at broader issues of impunity, colonialism, exploitation, and development in Guatemala and, more broadly, the Americas.
Following the delegation, I remained in Guatemala for a month to further explore these issues. At the time, I wrote: “I am not here to help anyone, but to listen, learn and attempt to understand. Above all, I am recording people’s stories and testimonies. These highlight particular ways in which the actions of my government and Canadian companies (especially mining companies) are negatively impacting people in Guatemala. They will not amount to a systematic overview of the social and environmental harms inflicted by Canadian entities, but will instead offer a small glimpse of a complicated bigger picture. Some of these stories will already have been told, often by Canadian NGOs, but I think all bear repeating until real change happens.”
I was fortunate to be able to return to Guatemala the following year, to work for much of a year with Ceiba, an amazing Guatemalan organization engaged in land struggles at local, municipal, national, and international scales. They have been a strong part of the mining resistance (and other mega-project resistance) movement that has become a major force in Guatemala.
For an overview of some of the negative impacts the Canadian extractive industry has had around the world, and some of the recent resistance efforts see this article.
Knowingly or not, we are all complicit in these harms, whether through our or our pension plans’ investments; the actions of our elected politicians; the jewelry or electronics we buy; or our tacit acceptance of systematic racism, colonialism and other oppressive, violent forces. This is our problem as much as it is that of Guatemalans, though, while we reap the benefits, it is they of course who are suffering the harms.
I hope that this blog can continue to be a place for sharing stories, information, and urgent actions, and that it will support people in joining with others in denouncing the role we and our country(ies) have played and continue to play in exploiting and harming individuals and communities beyond our borders.