Articles by: Susan Fitzpatrick Behrens
On Sunday, September 27, a violent conflict broke out in El Estor, a municipality near Guatemala's Pacific coast, between members of a Q'eqchi' community called Las Nubes and private security guards of the Guatemala Nickel Company (CGN), a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company, Hudbay Resources. Community members report that CGN's security forces kidnapped and killed Adolfo Ich Xamán, a local teacher and community leader, and gravely injured eight others.
The members of Centro Campesino, a cooperative in Guatemala’s Petén region, are fighting to recover their land. Their displacement, their struggle, and their inability to protect their community, Yaxchilan, reveal the surprising ways that both export-led development plans and conservation programs can disregard the interests of indigenous and traditional communities. For conservation groups, this oversight can lead to a failure to ally with the only communities that may effectively stop mining, petroleum exploration, hydroelectric dams, and monoculture crops that destroy the environment.
For centuries, carnivals throughout Latin America have given revelers the chance to enjoy a brief suspension of a typically rigid social order. A group of activists have been using the carnival model as a collective weapon of peaceful transformation against violence, fear, and silence. From Colombia to Guatemala, the carnival is taking back the streets one block at a time, and what began as a carnival procession has turned into a movement.
Crossing the Guatemala-Mexico border region is perhaps the most dangerous leg of undocumented Central Americans' long journey to the United States. This border region also demonstrates in microcosm everything that's wrong with U.S. policy toward Mexico and Central America, where free trade, the drug war, US-backed militarization, and repressive immigration policies converge—making a bad situation worse for Central American migrants.
The leftist FMLN party is the current favorite to win El Salvador's March 2009 presidential elections. Besides the economic downturn, the party's success at the polls is being driven by a series of political innovations that have helped broaden the party's appeal and boost its inclusiveness—both at home and abroad. Could this new strategy make El Salvador the next Latin American country to make a turn to the left?