FAN Friend Supports Guatemalan Community’s fight for Clean Water

FAN Friend, Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM works for Catholic Charities and recently made a trip to support several communities in Guatemala in their struggle against a mining operation threatening their water supply. Here, with permission, is his story.

By Jacek Orzechoski, OFM

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Yesterday [October 29,2018], I and a few members of the Central American Franciscan family visited a community of resistance against the gold mining operation in La Puya. It is located about one hour outside of Guatemala City. For the past six years, the impoverished Guatemalan communities of San Jose de Golfe have been engaged in a David and Goliath struggle against the US-based company, Kappes, Cassidy, and Associate. The communities insist that their right to clean water – and therefore their right to life – takes precedence over the mining company’s insatiable desire for gold and profit. Recently, the people have scored the major victory yet, their peaceful, non-violent fight is far from over.…/

The US-Canadian mining company is still looking for ways to get gold from La Puya. On one hand, there is a prospect of huge profits for the rich foreign elites; and on the other hand, there is a specter of arsenic-poisoned water and unusable land for tens of thousands of local people. In that moral contest, if the greed wins then, the people that live in the area would have only two options: stay there and consume poison; or take your family and migrate north. In Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras – among other countries – the gold mines, the hydroelectric projects, and extensive monoculture plantations have been displacing a huge number of people from their land. They have also contributed to the culture of corruption, violence, impunity, and kleptocracy. Under the guise of bringing development and progress, one can see a neo-colonial theft and robbery. It’s appropriate here to quote St. Basil the Great who in the 4th century called an unfettered pursuit of money rules, “the dung of the devil”.

JAcek blog

President Trump and his enablers continue to spawn racism, hatred, and division. Together, they demonize migrants and refugees and label them as dangerous criminals when in fact they are fleeting violence, extreme poverty, and deadly repression in their countries of origin. Yet, too many Americans fail to see that, all too often, it is the U.S. economic policies imposed on many Latin American countries that generate an enormous structural violence. Pope Francis has spoken against the tyranny of “the economy that excludes and kills”.

Rather than talking about building the wall, we as Americans must open our eyes and join in solidarity the progressive democratic movements in Central America that offer an alternative to the US-promoted, insane model of development that frequently, in the process, crushes the poor, poisons the land, stamps out the authentic, participatory democracy, and replace it with corruption and violence.

Confronting these challenges is a daunting task. Yet, the courageous witness of the Guatemalan communities in peaceful resistance at La Puya can inspire all of us. The Franciscan family is getting more involved in promoting the culture of peace and moves towards a prophetic witness in solidarity with the oppressed. Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about what you can do. Peace and all good.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

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