By Kathryn Johnson, GHRC Assistant Director
“We know that we could die in this struggle, but it is a just and necessary fight, and no matter what, we are all going to die. It is better to die defending life than not doing anything. At least our grandchildren will be able to say that we fought for something important — life in its many forms.”
These words were spoken by Miriam Pixtún, Monroy — a Maya Kaqchikel activist from the community of Nacahuil, Guatemala — along our most recent speaking tour. Listening to Miriam throughout the trip, I was inspired by her courage and grateful for the chance to help bring her message to the US.
We spoke to audiences in Chicago, Milwaukee, Reno and Las Vegas about the “La Puya” environmental movement — a peaceful struggle against the imposition of a mine near residents’ homes. In her presentations at universities, churches and community events she explained that humanity has stopped valuing life, and forgotten that we are interconnected with each other and the earth.
These powerful words resonated with activists in Wisconsin and in Nevada who are involved in similar struggles to block mines that would pollute and damage their homes. In the tiny town of Silver City, we stood on the back patio of one family’s house as they pointed to a spot — just 250 feet away — where a mine will soon be installed if community members can’t stop it. Family members explained to Miriam the affinity they feel for La Puya, because of the similarity of the struggles.
Our tour culminated with a day of action in Reno, Nevada — home of US mining company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, which owns the mine at La Puya. We joined friends from several Nevada-based groups to deliver a letter to the Nevada Mining Association asking the organization to require all its members — including KCA — to respect human rights everywhere. We haven’t heard back from the Association, and are asking our supporters to continue sending emails, demanding that it uphold the highest human rights standards.
Along the tour, Miriam mentioned how important GHRC’s accompaniment and advocacy have been to La Puya. Can you make a donation to help us continue this work? In honor of #GivingTuesday we’re offering a bag of Guatemalan coffee to everyone who signs up to donate monthly, or you can make a one-time donation. Every donation helps!