Stories on Rights and Resistance: Indigenous Maya Activists in Central America

Monday, May 27, 2013 - 7:00pm
The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Sts): A, C, E to 14 St. (south exits to 14th & 8th Av.; L to 8th Av. (at 14th); #1, 2, 3 to 14 St.(south exits to 12th St. & 7th Av.); PATH to Christopher St. (nr. Hudson St.); F, M to 14 St (at 6th Av.); B, D to W. 4 St. (north exits to Waverly & 6th Av.); maps below)

May 27th, 2013 7:00 PM
Stories on Rights and Resistance:
Indigenous Maya Activists in Central America

Join us for a panel discussing featuring indigenous activists from Guatemala and Belize speaking on freedom of expression, land rights, and the movement against extractive industries.

Guatemala has been in the headlines recently with the conviction of former dictator Efraín Rios Montt on genocide charges. While the trial’s outcome marks an important step in coming to terms with the bloody civil war, Guatemala’s indigenous majority remains under siege by transnational corporations and an increasingly militarized neoliberal state. The government has refused to grant legal recognition to community-based indigenous radio stations (a right guaranteed by international convention and the Guatemalan constitution). The state also promotes mining, hydroelectric dams, and other megaprojects that have serious environmental and public health consequences, and also threaten land rights and livelihoods in rural indigenous communities – against the expressed wishes of the affected communities. And it has criminalized those who fight for their rights. Since former general Otto Pérez Molina took office in January 2012, the armed forces and company thugs have killed over a dozen indigenous leaders, and they have arrested, harassed and threatened dozens more. Community radio stations –often the only media outlet available to rural indigenous populations – have also come under attack, both through police raids and also draconian laws that impose harsh prison sentences on unlicensed broadcasters.

Belize is a country famous for its eco-tourism and conservation. But now a US oil company has been given a licence for oil drilling inside of a national park in the traditional lands of the Q’eqchi Maya peoples in southern Belize The government is counting on their regional isolation, poverty, relative lack of power to continue marginalizing and discriminating against Indigenous Mayans and violating their rights.

This evening will give us a unique opportunity to hear about these struggles firsthand. Participants include representatives of the Community Radio Movement of Guatemala; community organizers against dams in Huehuetenango; and traditional Maya leaders from Belize.

Talks will be in Spanish with English translation.

Organized in collaboration with Cultural Survival.