Dawn Paley

Canadian Mining on Trial

Posted in Guatemala, Indigenous Resistance by dawn on 26/11/2012

I was lucky to have had the chance to visit El Estor, Guatemala again recently, for the first time since I reported on the evictions that took place there in late 2006 and early 2007.

Canadian Mining on Trial: Guatemalan delegation travelling to Canada to challenge corporate impunity

Published by The Dominion, November 21, 2012

EL ESTOR, GUATEMALA—The rain won’t let up. It muddies the ground and pounds the corrugated metal roof of Angelica Choc’s house on the edge of the Guatemalan town of El Estor, enveloping the small gathering on the porch in a curtain of water. If it wasn’t for the violence surrounding a proposed nickel mine near the community, the evening’s gathering would likely have included her husband, Adolfo Ich. Maybe, at the end of the gathering, Ich would have taken out his guitar and begun an impromptu sing-a-long.

But there’s no celebration here. Instead, Choc sits on a plastic chair, sipping sweet coffee, talking through the logistics of an upcoming trip to Toronto with her sister-in-law, Maria Cuc Choc and their friend German Chub. All three are worried about how German, who is paralyzed from the waist down, will manage on the flight. What if he has to go to the bathroom on the plane, they wonder. They discuss what kind of clothes they might need for the cold. There are another two women accompanying them on the trip, and none of them own suitcases. The conversation slips back and forth between Spanish and Q’eqchi’, punctuated by laughter.

On the wall near the front door of Choc’s small wooden house is a simple altar in memory of her late husband. Two framed photos of Ich hang on the wall, his gaze straight and serious. His guitar hangs on the wall, gathering dust. A longtime Q’eqchi’ activist involved in various land struggles, Ich was murdered in September 2009 by private security guards in the employ of Hudbay Minerals.

“We’re going to travel [to Canada] because we want to demand justice,” Choc told The Dominion. “I have faith and hope that we’ll be successful. That’s what we want.” Choc, Chub, Cuc, and two others will travel to Canada for cross-examination by Hudbay’s legal team during the last week in November.

“This will be the first time, as far as I know, that individuals harmed by Canadian mining projects in other countries will have travelled to Canada to provide evidence for use in Canadian courts,” according to Grahame Russell of Rights Action, a solidarity organization involved in supporting community members resisting nickel mining in the El Estor region. “The questioning, under oath, will take place out of court and may be used in court.” (more…)

Drug War Capitalism

Posted in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indigenous Resistance, Mexico, Mining by dawn on 02/07/2012

Folks,

Drug War Capitalism is the main research piece I have been working on over the past few months. Click here to read the PDF version.

Dawn Paley probes beneath the surface of the drug war in Colombia and Mexico. She explores the mechanisms employed, reports on the economic and human devastation, analyzes the possible reasons for continuing the war and suggests further areas of inquiry. PDF of an extended edition for the web.

In both the United States and Canada there have been sustained grassroots efforts to spotlight the unjust mass incarceration and criminalization of poor people, and especially poor people of color, for drug-related arrests. But there has been too little analysis about the reasons behind and mechanisms of this war, and its economic impact on Mexico and beyond.

Even before a withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan has been achieved, the United States has become involved in a series of intensifying conflicts taking place from Mexico’s north border through Peru. Governments and mainstream media label it a “war on drugs.” It is important to examine how the expanding “war on drugs” connects to the expansion of transnational corporate control over markets, labor and natural resources.

In Honduras, four Indigenous people were shot and killed in May, when Honduran forces opened fire from a U.S. State Department helicopter, all under the supervision of uniformed U.S. agents. In Mexico — under the guidance of the United States, Canada, Israel and Colombia — the police and army are being transformed.

In Colombia, the war has gone on for decades and involved billions of U.S. dollars, but is being rebranded as a fight against crime. Through the 1980s, the Colombian state became increasingly paramilitarized, a process which “manifested itself as threats, bombings, and selective assassinations or collective massacres of government officials (principally but not exclusively from the left), and of popular political leaders, workers, peasants, professors, human rights activists, and members of nongovernmental organziations.”

U.S. assistance to Colombia in the form of anti-narcotics program funding resulted in the strengthening of paramilitary and unofficial police groups, reported to have patrolled alongside the Colombian Army and involved in the vast majority of massacres and forced displacements in the country.

“Saying that the drug war has failed is to not understand something,” remarked Noam Chomsky in a speech this May. “One must ask oneself what is it that the planners have in mind given the amount of evidence that what they are trying to achieve doesn’t work. What are the probable intentions?”(1)

Chomsky’s comments point to an urgent area of research for activists and journalists wishing to understand today’s drug wars. It is increasingly clear that there is more work to be done in order to properly piece together the reasons for U.S.-led militarization in the Americas. (more…)