Holding signs say “#Si a la Vida,” “#No a la Mineria,” “JODVID,” and “Topacio Vive,” students in Susana Martinez’ class at DePaul University pose for a photo with Alex Escobar of JODVID (Organized Youth in Defense of Life) after hearing him speak about the group’s work to close Tahoe Resources Escobal Silver Mine as part of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)’s Fall Speaking Tour. Click

here

to sign NISGUA’s petition to Nevada Senator Dean Heller, who has lobbied the State Department to support the mine.

We can never know the impact one human being can have on the actions of others. The story of JODVID begins in response to the 2014 murder of 16-year-old Topacio Reynoso, a young artist and activist who, with her parents, participated in a community protest to resist the operation of Tahoe Resources Escobal Silver Mine located east of San Rafael las Flores in Santa Rosa Department, Guatemala. Topacio was shot while getting into a car after the demonstration with her father, who was also severely injured; the murder has never been investigated. Her father was the victim of an assassination attempt again the next year.

In response, her friends joined together to continue Topacio’s environmental work and resistance to the Escobal mine through the youth organization, JODVID. They utilize her artwork in their environmental education sessions in their communities and in their protests against the mine. She inspires them to spread their work to other communities in Guatemala, doing workshops and conferences to inform people about the environmental consequences of mining and deforestation, and motivating others to resist the location of mines in their communities.

The Escobal mine is the third largest silver mine in the world. It was constructed right in the middle of fertile farmland and land for grazing cattle. While many in Guatemala struggle to bring in enough income from small-scale farming to subsist, the communities surrounding the mine had  sustainable farms. They are now threatened with water shortages, because the mine diverts enormous quantities of water for its mining processes. Alex described springs and underground streams turning to dust and rock. Also, the mine contaminates water by the process used to separate the metallic ore from the rock, and it is released into streams. Cattle and people downstream have become sick from drinking from this source.

Alex enumerated the ways in which the local community has tried to stop the mine and the ways the mine company has retaliated against them. Community leaders organized referenda to determine whether people wanted the mine in their community–98% voted no. The community of Casillas constructed a peaceful road block to prevent mining company vehicles or gasoline trucks supplying the mine’s generators from going to the mine site, allowing all other traffic to pass through. The mine needs generators to operate, because no community will give them access to municipal electricity, another indication of opposition to the mine. The mine company has criminalized the protesters by saying false things about them in the press, by calling the Guatemalan National Police to violently disperse the protesters with guns and batons. Nevertheless, people keep up the protests and road blocks.

The mine did not consult with the local Xinca indigenous community before beginning its construction; therefore, CALAS (Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action) brought a lawsuit against it. The Guatemalan Supreme Court ruled against the mine and ordered it to suspend operations last summer, but then reversed its decision in September. It lifted the suspension on mining for the time being and ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines to conduct a consultation with the Xinca communitiy within a certain geographical distance of the mine, ignoring the results of the many community referenda that had already taken place. Depending on the result of the consultation ordered by the Supreme Court, one side or the other is likely to appeal the case to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the Guatemalan judicial system.

While in Chicago, Alex spoke to 3 classrooms of students at DePaul University, to a meeting open to students and the public at North Park University in the Albany Park neighborhood, and at a public event at University Church in Hyde Park. Jerome McDonnell, host of WBEZ’s “Worldview” program, interviewed him, and the program will air sometime in the next couple of weeks.  We’ll keep CRLN members informed about the date.

In the meantime, please add your name to NISGUA’s

petition

to Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, asking him to publicly rescind his letter lobbying the State Department on behalf of the mine and act against further human rights abuses committed against communities opposing the mine.

CRLN partnered with NISGUA to bring Alex and NISGUA staff person and translator Becky Kaump to Chicago.

Read More


La Voz de Los de Abajo, Witness for Peace, and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America invite you to hear from Gaspar Sanchez, the sexual diversity coordinator of COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), as he presents “Uniting to Resist Attacks on our Land and Identities: Building on the Queer Indigneous Framework in the Americas.”

COPINH was co-founded and led by beloved Indigenous leader Berta Caceres, who was assassinated in March 2016. Gaspar will speak about how the struggle for LGBTQ awareness and rights among Indigenous communities plays a vital role in both land defense and in the dismantling of patriarchal and militaristic structures.

Place: Citlalin Art Gallery Theater, 2005 S. Blue Island Ave., Chicago, IL  60608

Date and Time: Friday, October 27, 7:00 pm

Gaspar has served since 2014 on COPINH’s leadership team as the Coordinator of Sexual  Diversity & Rights Equality, which, for the first time in any Latin American indigenous organization, established a space dealing specifically with LGBTQ-related issues. Sánchez also hosts a radio program,

Los Colores de Wiphala

, that discusses human rights with an emphasis on the LGBTQ community. He conducts community trainings around the rights of indigenous peoples, territorial defense, protecting Mother Nature’s common goods threatened by extractivist projects, and legal accompaniment. In addition to supporting COPINH’s Tomás García Formation School, which builds leadership among the youth, Sánchez also serves as a spiritual guide for the Lenca people in their efforts to recuperate indigenous historical memory through processes of life, land defense, and ancestral spirituality. Finally, Sánchez has represented COPINH on the international stage in El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Venezuela, Perú, México, the United States, and in several European countries.

Read More


Gaspar Sanchez is a member of COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), the organization co-founded and led by beloved Indigenous leader Berta Caceres, who was assassinated in March 2016. Gaspar will speak about how the struggle for LGBTQ awareness and rights among Indigenous communities plays a vital role in both land defense and in the dismantling of patriarchal and militaristic structures.

Date & Time: October 27, 7:00 pm

LOCATION CHANGE:  PILSEN OUTPOST, 1958 W. 21ST ST. (NEAR DAMEN)

Gaspar has served since 2014 on COPINH’s leadership team as the Coordinator of Sexual  Diversity & Rights Equality, which, for the first time in any Latin American indigenous organization, established a space dealing specifically with LGBTQ-related issues. Sánchez also hosts a radio program,

Los Colores de Wiphala

, that discusses human rights with an emphasis on the LGBTQ community. He conducts community trainings around the rights of indigenous peoples, territorial defense, protecting Mother Nature’s common goods threatened by extractivist projects, and legal accompaniment. In addition to supporting COPINH’s Tomás García Formation School, which builds leadership among the youth, Sánchez also serves as a spiritual guide for the Lenca people in their efforts to recuperate indigenous historical memory through processes of life, land defense, and ancestral spirituality. Finally, Sánchez has represented COPINH on the international stage in El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Venezuela, Perú, México, the United States, and in several European countries.

Event Date:
Friday, October 27, 2017 – 19:00
Read More

Ana Maria Alvarenga, El Salvador’s Deputy of the Legislative Assembly, will speak about “Empowering Women in Politics.”

Date and Time: 3-5 pm, Sunday, November 5

Location: Centro Romero, 6216 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL  60660

Ms. Alvarenga is also a woman from Cinquera, El Salvador, which has a community organization, ARDM, that is the Salvadoran partner in the Chicago-Cinquera Sister Cities partnership. Chicago-Cinquera participates in CRLN’s event, Pedal for Peace Bike-a-thon, every year. Lately, they have raised funds for scholarships to Cinquera students attending university who have pledged to return to Cinquera to use their skills in service of the community.

Event Date:
Sunday, November 5, 2017 –

15:00

to

17:00

Read More


NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY TO #DefundHate!

Funding negotiations for FY ’18 are still under way in Congress. The Senate still has to mark-up and vote on a funding bill for the detention and deportation machine, and all members of Congress can weigh in with their leadership ahead of negotiations between the House and Senate. Call your representatives

TODAY

and demand they

#DefundHate

and call for cuts to ICE and CBP!


Sample Call Script.


Click here to find out who’s your

representative

or here for your

senators

.


Voicemail:

“Hello, my name is [first and last name] and I’m a constituent of [state/congressional district]. I’m calling as part of the Defund Hate campaign. We’re calling on [Member of Congress] to oppose funding for the detention and deportation machine. This funding fuels agencies like ICE and CBP which have a long track record of lying, hiding information and retaliating against those who speak out against them. We need to use public funds for needed resources like healthcare, education and housing, instead of this hateful detention and deportation machine. We demand that [MoC] publicly call for significant cuts to ICE and CBP and be a voice within [chamber, caucus, with leadership] to #DefundHate and oppose funding for the detention and deportation machine.”


If you get a person on the phone:

“What is [MoC’s] current position on whether or not Congress should be decreasing the funds allocated to CBP and ICE? [Wait for an answer. If bad/non-committal, reiterate: Again, CBP and ICE both have long track records of shameful and abusive behavior and are causing harm in our communities every day. I encourage [MoC] to speak out against this terrible use of my taxpayer dollars.] Thank you for your time…”

Read More