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K'iche' People Reject Exploitation of Their Resources
On October 22, during a historic community consultation, residents from the municipality of Santa Cruz del Quiché—one of Guatemala's most important hubs and the birthplace of the Maya K'iche' people—unanimously rejected the exploitation of natural goods and resources, in particular through mining and hydroelectric activities.
"Due to the lack of political will demonstrated by the State of Guatemala in carrying out its obligations to consult the local indigenous populations as stated in various accords, particularly Convention 169 from the International Labor Organization, and faced by the proliferation of licenses to explore and exploit their natural resources without consent, local indigenous peoples have organized themselves and carried out their own community consultations. These plebiscites have fortified their will both in the national and international stages, and strengthen their right to auto determination, land tenure, natural resources, health, and life itself."
A Mayan ceremony launched the orientation session for the dozens of national and international observers who participated in the Community Consultation of Good Faith for the Municipality of Santa Cruz del Quiché. Around 175 observers arrived from numerous countries and municipalities within the Republic in order to validate the process.
Lolita Chávez, coordinator of the K'iche' People's Council (Consejo de Pueblos K'iche's, or CPK, in Spanish), read from Municipal Act Number 62-2010, the official document that ratifies the plebiscite. The CPK belongs to the Western People's Council, an umbrella organization that spans several departments in the Guatemalan western highlands and defines itself as a "space where the original peoples of the region can summon local support for relevant struggles and gather their own representatives with the final purpose of strengthening and articulating efforts in response to common issues that affect local communities."
The consultation was carried out in 93 voting centers: 87 rural communities and 6 urban zones within the municipal capital. Members from the organizing committee fine tuned last-minute details before voting began on the 44th consultation of good faith to take place in Guatemala since 2005.
Unfortunately, the army was a menacing presence during the event in a region where its population still suffers from the repercussions of a very recent and bloody war. According to the report by the Inter-Diocesan Project to Recover the Historic Memory (REMHI), "Guatemala: Never Again," the Guatemalan Armed Forces carried out a genocidal campaign in the department of Quiché during the internal armed conflict (1960-1996) by killing thousands of civilians through at least 263 registered massacres.
Under a blazing morning sun, roughly 300 residents of El Tabil, mostly K'iche' Mayans, emphatically and unanimously rejected the appropriation and exploitation of the natural goods and resources in their territory. According to members of CPK, El Tabil hamlet is located within an area already licensed for mining exploration by the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), without the consent of local residents.
Community members from Las Cafeteras hamlet also rejected the privatization of water, construction of hydroelectric dams, as well as the extraction of oil and minerals. A hand-painted sign on the road read: "No to mining. No to hydroelectric dams. No to the sale of water. Yes to life."
In the voting center for Zone 1 of Santa Cruz del Quiché, those present voted unanimously against the privatization of natural resources and the construction of mega projects.
The final results were resounding: 98 percent of adults voted and 27,778 people rejected the extraction and exploitation of their natural goods and resources, while zero voted in favor. The municipality's population stands at 62,369. Francisco Osmundo Oxlaj, CPK member, declared: "The natural resources were plundered and forcibly taken from our ancestors. Now it is our turn to stand up and make sure our will, as original peoples, is respected—even at the price of our own lives. The consultation's results speak for themselves. We do not want any special privileges. We just want our mountains, rivers, forests…and no one is going to take them from us."
James Rodríguez is an independent documentary photographer based in Guatemala. His website is www.mimundo.org.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.