Monday, January 7, 2013

Guatemalans Resist Invasion of North American Mines

In November we traveled to Guatemala to study Spanish and learn about the lives of the indigenous Maya people. Guatemala is an amazingly beautiful country, with countless mountains and valleys, and 22 volcanoes, the most in Central America. The people are very friendly and good humored. Traditional Mayan culture, mostly observed in the colorful dress of the Mayan women, lives side by side with modernity. Picture a traditionally dressed indigenous peasant woman tending her cattle and sheep on a hillside pasture. Now watch her pull a cell phone out of her skirt to call her children. We are not just Spanish students and certainly not “tourists” in the usual sense. We are active members of Veterans For Peace, and we are very concerned about the U.S. role in Central America. The legacy of the 36-year war waged by the Guatemalan military against its indigenous people is everywhere. A peace agreement was signed in 1996, but many people we met, especially in the mountainous Mayan communities, told us the war continues – through discrimination, poverty, lack of voice in government, and now the systematic destruction of their communities in favor of gold and silver mining, hydroelectric dams, cement plants and oil exploration.
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