Day One in Guatemala!
Guest author Lynn Hamilton
Lynn Hamilton is United Church clergy, currently living and serving in Thetford Mines, Quebec. Lynn is interested in resource extraction and corporate accountability and has been following with interest KAIROS’ work in this area.
Tuesday. Our first full day together as a group. Folks from Victoria, the Miramachi, and 12 points in between begin a day of joy and challenge. For many of us it is our first day as visitors, learners and activists in Guatemala. We awake to the sound of church bells ringing. A delicate breeze blows through the courtyard of the modest Casa, and the sound of diesel engines groaning, lots and lots of them, reminds us we are in a vibrant, busy, urban context.
The United Church Mining Study Tour began with group building at 8:30am, following a delicious breakfast of seasoned scrambled eggs, hot sauce, beans, tortillas and a yummy local soft, ripened, salty cheese.
The group building exercises were joyous, but included some fear and trembling as we began to get to know the folks we will be eating, sharing dorm living, and reflecting with over the next 10 days. We established a solid foundation of group norms using a format facilitated by wise and experienced leaders. We then moved into a conversation with Naty Atz, a representative of CEIBA, the Association of Community Development, a KAIROS partner.
Naty Atz shared her story and wisdom. Articulate, intelligent, an expert story teller and an activist, Naty shared her particular context as a Maya Kaqchikel woman with deep rural roots who lives in Guatemala. We have much to reflect on from what she shared with us. We learned about the issues from her perspective – the connection between the resource extraction industry and diminished human rights among rural and indigenous peoples in Guatemala.
We then walked together through the streets of Zona 1 to a restaurant and meeting room about 10 blocks away. There we met with Luis Solano, an economist, academic and expert on the place of mineral/resource extraction in the Guatemalan economy and its impact on the lives and culture of the Guatemalan people. Insightful, informed and passionate, Luis delivered much information about the Guatemalan economy for us to reflect on, and provided a good foundation and framework as we begin this study tour.