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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Guatemala

I am proud to say that I have been active in human rights work for eight years now. I have worked for causes in Mexico, Egypt, Peru, Guatemala and the United States on issues ranging from women’s rights to the cessation of torture. I blogged this past August about a human rights delegation I served on in Guatemala, and I recently received an update on what is happening now in one of the villages we visited. Although I have kept the community of Lote Ocho in my thoughts, it was a reminder that their struggle has continued even after I was able to leave and return to the safety of my home.

Lote Ocho meets with our delgation (Photo by Chris Morales)
 In 2007, the nearly 100 families of the Q'eqchi Mayan village Lote Ocho were violently displaced at the behest of the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals (now known as CGN Fenix). When the community first refused to relocate, company guards stripped them of their possessions and burnt down their homes. Two weeks later, while the men of Lote Ocho were working in the fields, the guards returned and gang raped eleven women. For a year, the community tried to negotiate with HudBay for their right to a place to live. In 2008, HudBay alloted Lote Ocho eight hectares of land, reserving the right to evict the community at any time. To date, this community of subsistence farmers has yet to be given the land deeds they were promised. They live in constant fear of violent eviction, and struggle to survive on such a small parcel of land. To read more, go to http://www.lawg.org/action-center/lawg-blog/69-general/953-rape-and-displacement-in-guatemala-.

The women talk about their experience (Photo by Chris Morales)
Now, the community of Lote Ocho has filed a lawsuit against HudBay Minerals. Thanks to the work of the Washington, DC based groups Guatemalan Human Rights Commission and Latin American Working Group, it was announced on March 21st that the activist organization Avaaz has agreed to help raise money for the community’s legal costs.
Our delegation visits the old site of Lote Ocho, abandoned after security forces burnt it down (Photo by Chris Morales)
This case has the potential to change the way multinational businesses like HudBay Minerals operate. Sadly, rape, torture, intimidation and murder are not uncommon ways for multinational companies to further their business ventures in developing nations. With expensive legal teams at their disposal, these companies are rarely held accountable for their actions.

Without our help, the community of Lote Ocho cannot stand up to the legal power of HudBay Minerals. If you can, please donate through Avaaz and tell anyone who may be interested in helping about what is happening in Guatemala today. To donate, go to:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_murder_and_rape_for_profit/?cl=1659939895&v=13261).


1 comment:

  1. Even though it's not your thing, I Tweeted the link =)

    ReplyDelete