Fredericton residents gathered at the annual Noche Latina to raise funds for scholarships and bring awareness to the destruction Canadian mining companies are causing in Guatemala.
During the Internal Armed Conflict of the 1980’s, thousands left Guatemala as refugees. Today, history is repeating itself as these mining companies are trying to expropriate Guatemalans from their land.
Jeremias Tecu is Fredericton’s representative of Breaking the Silence, a network of Maritime-wide volunteers who help Guatemalan people. Tecu is also one of the coordinators of Noche Latina. He says the event’s main goal was to encourage human rights.
“Canadian mining is everywhere in Guatemala and it is affecting everyone. Harper’s government took a certain percentage of the money of Canadian pension to invest in Canadian mining. The question is, do you know that they took your money to violate human rights around the world? A lot of Canadian people don’t know that. We want to make sure that they do,” says Tecu.
Breaking the Silence partnered with the Multicultural Association of Fredericton to organize the event. The funds raised will be used to pay for Guatemalan kids’ secondary studies.
Amanda Wildeman lived in Guatemala for eight months and now is one of the coordinators of Breaking the Silence. Lutes says the presence of foreigners in Guatemala deters violence.
“Human rights accompaniment is the presence of someone who is not a local person to be there and physically be in the space and be present during conflict and hard times,” she says.
During the event, performers shared their culture with the audience. The talent show included a Latin Conga dance and live music presentations. A Latin-American meal was served for everyone to enjoy.
Jackie McVicar is also a coordinator of Breaking the Silence. “We are trying to be aware of what is happening, communicate that with people here and also make our own government accountable for their role.”
Arianne Melara, a St. Thomas University graduate who honoured in International Relations last year attended the event.
“Events like Noche Latina are vital to cause change on these issues. They are a medium through which indigenous people can get the support that they need,” said Melara.
The event was held in the Wilmot United Church.