WORKING WITH PEOPLE & COMMUNITIES IN GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, MEXICO (CHIAPAS & OAXACA), EL SALVADOR
BUILDING ALLIANCES & SUPPORTING PROJECTS FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, THE ENVIRONMENT & HUMAN RIGHTS
TO GET ON RIGHTSACTIONANNOUNCE: CLICK HERE
Rights Action is a tax-deductible, not-for-profit organization incorporated separately in the USA and Canada. Founded in the USA, Rights Action was formerly called Guatemala Partners that, itself, was created from the merger of PEACE for Guatemala and Guatemala Health Rights Support Project, both founded in 1983. In Canada, the legal name is Canadian Rights Action Foundation.
Rights Action has a long-term, full-time staff of two. Since 1995, Grahame Russell (Canadian) and Annie Bird (American) have been co-directors.
- channels funds from individual donors and foundations to community-based organizations carrying out their own development, environment, human rights and emergency relief projects: mainly in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as El Salvador, Chiapas (Mexico) & Haiti. (We have also supported organizations and projects in Oaxaca and Peru);
- provides popular education to community based organizations in: poverty relief and eradication; indigenous and human rights; financial accounting, opening and using bank accounts, writing proposals and reports; strengthening communication and transparency procedures with community members; writing and publishing urgent actions, articles and other information; legal defense and documentation work; etc.
- builds north-south alliances and carries out north-south educational work, legal work and activism in the United States and Canada for poverty eradication and global equality, justice and human rights, for the environment and for a just development model.
- Development, environmental and human rights issues are intertwined.
- A proper understanding of poverty, racism, repression and environmental destruction must include global and historical perspectives.
- CBOs (community-based organizations) and NGOs are at the forefront of efforts to construct societies and a global community based on equality, justice and respect for the environment and all human rights. It is imperative to fund and empower CBOs and NGOs to implement projects of their own design.
- All rights, individual and collective, must be promoted, protected and enforced.
- All actors (governmental, inter-governmental and private) must be held accountable for their actions or omissions that cause or contribute to human rights violations and environmental destruction.
FUNDING SUMMARY (US$)
A- Projects, Education & Operations (2010): $150,000
B- Grants, re-grants to community-based partners groups and projects (2010): $715,000
“PROJECTS, EDUCATION & OPERATIONS” INCLUDE:
- Project management and providing tech-support (computer training, financial record-keeping, report writing, organization strengthening work, etc.) for community-based partner organizations.
- Alliance-building work in Central America, and north-south, between community development, enviro- and human rights organizations.
- Popular education and activism in Central America and North America, including: maintaining listserv, website, quarterly newsletter; organizing speaking tours in the USA and Canada; taking educational delegations to Guatemala and Honduras.
- Human rights accompaniment work for partner organizations at risk, principally in Guatemala and Honduras.
- Salaries and benefits for full-time and part-time staff, and office rent & work costs (communications, travel, supplies, etc).
B- GRANTS TO PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS & PROJECTS
1995, funds sent to partner organizations in Guatemala: $ 46,000
1996, Guatemala: $ 67,000
1997, Guat, Chiapas: $215,000
1998, Guat, Chia, Honduras: $478,000
1999, Guat, Chia, Hond, Haiti: $615,000
2000, Guat, Chia, Hond, Hait: $696,000
2001, Guat, Chia, Hond, El Salvador, Peru: $818,000
2002, Guat, Hond, Chia, Peru, Nicaragua: $900,000
2003, Guat, Hond, Chia, Costa Rica, Nica, Peru: $755,000
2004, Guat, Hond, Chia, Hait, C.Rica, Peru: $812,000
2005, Guat, Hond, Chia, Hait, El Sal, C.Rica: $883,000
2006, Guat, Hond, Chia, Hait, El Sal, C.Rica, Colombia, Oaxaca: $860,000
2007, Guat, Hond, Chia, El Sal, C.Rica, Oaxaca $868,455
2008, Guat, Hond, El Sal, Peru, Chiapas, Haiti $890,000
2009, Guat, Hond, El Sal, Peru, Chiapas $750,000
2010, Guat, Hond, El Sal, Haiti, Chiapas [as of December 15] $715,000
FUNDING PHILOSOPHY & VISION
Getting funds directly into the hands of community-based organizations is a major part of Rights Action’s work, so that they may plan and carry out their own: development projects (including health, education, potable water, irrigation, fair trade micro-enterprise); environmental justice and conservation projects; human and indigenous rights projects; and disaster and emergency relief projects.
SELF-DESIGN / SELF-IMPLEMENTATION / SELF-EVALUATION - The organizations we fund and work with have the principal role in implementing projects of their own design. They carry out their own self-evaluation processes, as their projects and struggles advance.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL & DYNAMIC - Rights Action pays particular attention to funding and working with community-based organizations. Real change to the unjust global order must always begin where the multiple and over-lapping harms and injustices are being lived and suffered.
STRENGTHENING ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY - To support community organizations addressing the wide range of harms and injustices (poverty and exploitation, repression, discriminations, environmental destruction, etc.), it is necessary to support their efforts to grow in their communities; to coordinate their work and experiences with other local, national and international organizations; to achieve greater financial diversity.
WHO WE ARE?
SINCE 1995, GRAHAME RUSSELL & ANNIE BIRD HAVE BEEN CO-DIRECTORS
Grahame is a non-practising Canadian lawyer and global development and human rights activist. Annie (an American) is a long time global development and human rights activist who just moved back to the USA, after living in Guatemala since 1997. Between them, Annie and Grahame plan and carry out a work-plan including: raising funds and channeling funds to our community based partner groups; north-south education and activism work; financial management; north-south alliance building; and more.
JUSTICE & THE STRUGGLE TO END IMPUNITY
Complimentary to the Mining & Dams * versus * Community Development, Environmental Justice & Human Rights program area, RA funds and supports community organizations and their struggles in favour of justice and against impunity as related to historic and on-going repression, and as related to mining and dam land incursions, environmental destruction and labour related issues that our partner groups are involved with.
MINING & DAMS * versus * COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, HUMAN RIGHTS & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
In Honduras and Guatemala (and to a lesser extent in Chiapas and El Salvador), we fund and work with communities and their forests and watersheds harmed by global mining companies and hydro-electric dam projects. These are comprehensive struggles: community controlled development, human rights, environmental justice and disaster response.
REFORESTATION & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
After the devastation of Hurricane Stan, 2005, we fund reforestation and community environmental defense projects in Mayan communities in the dry corridor (corredor seco) of central and eastern Guatemala.
EMERGENCY & DISASTER RESPONSE
We provided rapid response funds and support to:
- Victims of repression for their anti-military coup work in Honduras, and for their human rights, community development and environmental justice work in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
- Communities harmed by heavy rain storms, hurricanes and the resulting mudslides, floods and destruction of home and property.
EDUCATION (Schools & Scholarships) & SOLIDARITY ECONOMY
Since 1995, RA has been funding and providing technical support for a growing number of community based schools (pre-primary, primary, middle) and scholarship programs (for high school and university) in Guatemala. This education program grew into the now independent AMEP – Alianza Maya por la Educacion Popular (Mayan Alliance for Popular Education).
Since 1995, RA has been funding and providing technical support for a growing number of community-based fair trade, solidarity economy productive projects. This solidarity economy program grew into the now independent RAIS – Red Alternativa de Intercambio Solidario (Alternative Network for Solidarity Exchange).
NORTH-SOUTH EDUCATION & ACTIVISM
RA leads educational seminar/delegations of North Americans to Honduras and Guatemala; brings community leaders to Canada and the USA on speaking tours to learn and educate about the range of issues we work on. We prepare and send information to our mailing list and listserv. Grahame and Annie give educational presentations regularly.
* * *
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2010
* * *
HONDURAS’ PRO-DEMOCRACY, ANTI-MILITARY COUP MOVEMENT
A major focus of our work continues to be support for the amazing pro-democracy movement in Honduras. Since the June 28, 2009 military-oligarchic coup against the government of President Zelaya, we have channeled over $140,000 to the people’s movement in Honduras.
This struggle, against an illegitimate US- and Canadian-backed regime, continues into 2011 in favor of re-founding the nation and society. Sadly and predictably, the regime continues to use widespread repression (including assassinations, massacres, torture and beatings) to try and crush the pro-democracy movement.
In response to the most devastating and deadly disaster in the history of the Americas – over 300,000 people dead; over 1,000,000 directly harmed -, we channeled over $35,000 of your contributions to community based organizations providing direct relief (food, water, shelter, clothing, medical attention) to surviving victims. RA does not have an on-going work program in Haiti. We support and follow the lead of long-time Haitian organizations that we supported after the 2nd military coup against the government of President Aristide in 2004 and the massive tropical storms of 2004/ 2005.
Haiti remains devastated, with no comprehensive solutions on the horizon. The grassroots movements will need much more support in the coming years, even as fundamental political changes are needed inside Haiti and in the approach of the so-called “international community” that has long been much more of the problem in Haiti than the solution.
TROPICAL STORM AGATHA, Guatemala
In response to Tropical Storm Agatha that resulted in mudslides and overflowing rivers - over 100 Guatemalans were killed; thousands lost their homes; hundreds of thousands lost subsistence crops -, Rights Action channeled over $10,000 to community groups that we worked with after Hurricane Stan devastated Guatemala in 2005, providing direct relief (food, water, shelter, clothing, medical attention). The groups we support have the capacity to immediately deliver aid, at the same time as they have a long-term vision of community-controlled development and environmental protection – such that a majority of Guatemalans are not left living and surviving in chronic conditions of poverty and vulnerablilty.
MINING & OTHER MEGA-“DEVELOPMENT” PROJECTS *versus*
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, HUMAN RIGHTS & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
In Honduras and Guatemala, as well as El Salvador, we fund and work with campesino and indigenous communities involved in struggles to remedy environmental and health harms and other human rights violations caused by mining companies and hydro-electric dam projects. In 2010, we sent over $85,000 to community based partner groups.
These are comprehensive struggles in favour of community-controlled development and the ending of exploitation and poverty, in favour of human and indigenous rights and environmental well-being.
These are struggles against the harms and violations caused by: Goldcorp Inc’s open-pit, cyanide leaching gold mines in Guatemala and Honduras; HudBay Mineral’s nickel mining in Guatemala; Pacific Rim’s desire to mine for gold in El Salvador; the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank’s “Chixoy Dam” project in Guatemala; and more.
MEMORY, TRUTH & JUSTICE FOR STATE REPRESSION & GENOCIDE
Since the early 1990s, courageous Guatemalans have exhumed mass graves and pursued justice for: particular massacres and the genocide; disappearances; political assassinations; torture; etc. Rights Action continues to fund and support: mass grave exhumations carried out by the FAFG exhumation team; justice for the Rio Negro massacre, the Dos Erres massacre and the 2 genocide cases; the Chixoy dam reparations campaign; the Efrain Bamaca case; etc.
Since the early 90s, most cases have not advanced in Guatemalan courts due to the deeply entrenched phenomena of legal and political impunity. In late 2009, a crack opened in the wall of impunity. Human rights and surviving victim groups are again trying to push their cases forward. In this Program Area in 2010 we channeled over $50,000 to groups working for memory, truth and justice.
REFORESTATION & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Fundamental to any work to end the underlying causes of poverty and exploitation are the creation and recovery of healthy living communities, beginning with the protection and recovery of natural resources, including forests and watershed areas.
After providing emergency relief to people and communities devastated by Hurricane Stan in 2005, we have been funding reforestation and community environmental conservation projects in Mayan communities in the dry corridor (corredor seco) of central and eastern Guatemala. In 2010, we have channeled more than $60,000 to this Program Area.
NORTH-SOUTH EDUCATION & ACTIVISM
The inequalities and injustices our partner groups are working to address – exploitation and poverty, environmental degradation and harm, military coups, repression – are local to global, north-south issues. Rights Action focuses most of our education and activism work on how the global north – governments, inter-government agencies and companies, investors and banks – often contribute to and benefit from environmental harms, military coups, repression, exploitation and poverty.
In 2010, Rights Action:
- led 6 educational seminar-delegations of North Americans to Honduras and Guatemala to learn first hand about and be in solidarity with struggles related to harmful mining companies and hydro-electric dams; the pro-democracy movement in Honduras; efforts to achieve justice for the repression and genocide in Guatemala; etc.
- brought community and indigenous leaders to Canada and the US on 6 tours to educate about resistance to the harmful operations of North American mining companies; resistance to the military coup in Honduras; etc.
- gave dozens of presentations in communities, universities and other public forums across Canada and the US, about the issues and struggles we are working on and how North Americans can get involved in work and struggle for “another world is possible”.
- published articles and reports on our listserv and in our newsletters, prepared by Rights Action and other writers, investigators and organizations.
* * *
INFORMATION & ACTIVITIES OF NOTE
* * *
Rights Action has been directly involved in what is set out here, providing funding, human rights accompaniment, technical support, and/or reporting.
CHOC V. HUDBAY MINERALS:
On December 1, a wrongful death lawsuit was announced in Toronto, Canada. Angelica Choc has sued HudBay Minerals for the killing of her husband Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Qeqchi community leader, teacher and father of 5 who was captured and killed by private security guards working for HudBay, during a protest concerning harms and violations caused by HudBay’s nickel mining interests. Angelica’s story is reported on in the CTV W5 special “Lost Paradise” (see below). For more information, contact: email@example.com and go to: www.chocversushudbay.com.
“LOST PARADISE” DOCUMENTARY FILM:
In April, in Canada, CTV aired a W5 documentary "Lost Paradise" addressing many of the environmental and health harms and human rights violations being caused by Canadian nickel and gold mining companies in Guatemala. To view: go to www.ctv.ca (and search for W5’s April 17 presentation of “Lost Paradise”), or go to: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100415/w5_paradise_lost_100415/20100417
CHIXOY DAM REPARATIONS CAMPAIGN:
Since 1995, the Mayan-Achi communities harmed and destroyed by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bacnk-funded Chixoy Hydro-Electric Dam (including the massacres of 440 in the village of Rio Negro) have been seeking reparations from the Guatemalan government, World Bank and Inter-American Development bank. This has been a long, torturous and courageous struggle. In mid-2010, the government of Guatemala has agreed to almost all points in contention – that it was responsible and that it owes compensation and reparations to the 32 harmed and damaged Mayan communities, but – as of yet – has still not signed the final agreement to release the compensation and reparation funds and begin work on numerous re-building projects. This extraordinary struggle, on the part of the Chixoy Dam harmed communities, hangs in the balance.
ORDER TO SUSPEND GOLDCORP’S “MARLIN” MINE IN GUATEMALA”:
The government of Guatemala has said it will abide by a ruling of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and order the suspension of Goldcorp Inc. harmful open-pit, cyanide leaching mine in San Miguel Ixtahucan (San Marcos).
As of yet, Goldcorp Inc. has refused to suspend its mining operation. As of yet, the government of Guatemala has not complied with the ruling, let alone its own promise. This extraordinary struggle, on the part of the mining-harmed communities, hangs in the balance.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINT FILED WITH GOVERNMENT OF CANADA CONCERNING NICKEL MINING IN GUATEMALA:
Rights Action and the UNBC (University of Northern British Colombia – Prince George) investigated and reported on the forced evictions and gang rapes of Mayan Qeqchi villagers and women and girls that took place in 2007. These crimes were committed by Guatemalan soldiers, police and security guards hired by then Skye Resources nickel mining company (now HudBay Minerals). RA also reported on the September 2009 assassination of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Qeqchi community leader, by security guards hired by HudBay Minerals. To date, the government of Canada is refusing to formally investigate these mining-related crimes.
INFORMATIONS OF NOTE
Rights Action supported directly and indirectly the production of the following:
FILM: “LOST PARADISE”
In April, in Canada, CTV aired a W5 documentary "Lost Paradise" addressing the environmental and health harms and human rights violations being caused by Canadian nickel and gold mining companies in Guatemala (specifically Skye Resources, HudBay Minerals and Goldcorp Inc.). http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100415/w5_paradise_lost_100415/20100417
FILM: “THE BUSINESS OF GOLD in Guatemala: Tale of a Conflict Foretold”
Even as the government of Guatemala was signing the 1996 “Peace Accords”, it was – unbeknownst to the Guatemala population – giving out hundreds of mining concessions to international (mainly Canadian) mining companies. Since the early 2000s, serious conflicts have broken out in Guatemala – as well as else-where in Central America – due to the environmental and health harms and other violations of human and indigenous rights being caused by mainly Canadian mining companies. “The Business of Gold in Guatemala” (50 minutes), by Gregory Lassalle, documents one struggle – the resistance of the Mayan-Mam people of San Miguel Ixtahuacan against the Canadian company Goldcorp Inc.
FILM: “ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD”
"All That Glitters Isn't Gold" is a 60-minute documentary by Steven Schnoor that tells the stories of community members residing near Goldcorp's San Martin open-pit gold mine in Honduras' Siria Valley. The first mine to be developed under Honduras' controversial mining law that was passed in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the San Martin mine opened in 2000 and is the largest open-pit heap-leach mine in Honduras. Community members discuss the grave complications they have experienced since the mine began operating -- from rampant health problems to a lack of clean water -- contesting the company's claims that the mine has been a model of healthy development for the community and has caused no adverse effects. http://www.rightsaction.org/video/gold/
* * *
Rights Action’s work has grown considerably since 1995 – financially, geographically and in our vision. We have in place professional and institutional processes so that our partner organizations receive consistent funding and support for their work, so that we are strengthening the alliance-building work needed at national, regional and global levels, and so that our funders - individual and foundations – know how their money is being spent.
Grahame Russell & Annie Bird, co-directors
Grahame: 860-352-2448, firstname.lastname@example.org
Annie: 202-680-3002, email@example.com
IF YOU WANT TO JOIN OUR E-LIST OR MAILING LIST, CONTACT: INFO@RIGHTSACTION.ORG