It’s been awhile since we shared some of the things DJPC has accomplished so far in 2011. In January, Jennifer Piper of AFSC share about the reality of immigration and it’s root causes, in a Salon titled “Immigrant Detention: When U.S. Foreign Policy Drives People from their Homes and U.S. Enforcement Policies Drive Them Back.” These are causes long-time members of DJPC have been learning about or seeing for many years as we have witnessed the political, economic, and social policies of the U.S. in Latin America. As an action response to Piper’s presentation, DJPC co-sponsored the February Vigil at the GEO Detention Center in Aurora with CIRC. It was an inspiring event, with amazing turn-out for such a cold night. We started on the corner, raising awareness to all driving past that the detention center exists, that injustices exist at the detention center, and that love (the theme of the February vigil) is what will overcome such hate.
In February, Godson Beaugelin of the Lambi Fund spoke at the Salon, updating DJPC members on the work that the Lambi Fund is doing in Haiti since the earthquake in January 2010. He shared about the difficulties and opportunities that have faced the Lambi Fund and how it has been using the donations it received following the disaster.
At the March Salon, Alejandro Alfaro, a former employee of COPAE (the San Marcos Catholic Diocese Commission on Peace and Ecology), shared about the work he did organizing the resistance in San Miguel Ixtahuacan and Sipacapa, San Marcos, Guatemala, against the Marlin Mine (a Goldcorp mine). Alejandro talked about the difficulties of organizing people in the face of such injustice–a multi-billion, multi-national gold mining industry–and the little victories they shared, which have kept them going. These victories include the Community Consultations that have been conducted in San Marcos (to prevent the mine from expanding) and other departments, to prevent other mines from opening. Because the people of Guatemala have voiced their opposition to mining in their territories, mining companies with licenses have not opened any more mines. Alejandro’s presentation was an inspiration and witness to the power of organized people. As an action item, Alejandro directed DJPC members to many of the petitions and links they could sign to prevent future mining licenses and to the Marlin Mine to close it’s operation in San Marcos.
April’s Salon was part of a series of speaking engagements by two Guatemalan health-promoters, who are part of Promesa, an organization sponsored by DJPC. Domingo and Pedro shared about their experiences in the mountains and what it was like to be members of Communities of Popular Resistance (CPR communities). They spoke about the lack of healthcare that people had during the war, how they learned about natural medicines, and when they first started to receive additional education to further their knowledge as health promoters. They also shared about the work they are doing today to improve the lives of their now-repopulated communities. Besides the Salon, Pedro and Domingo also spoke to students at Lakewood HS and college students at Tivoli and DU. They spoke on Jack Mudry’s morning radio show, shared with fellow-Guatemalans at a potluck with DJPC members and the REDGUA (Network of Guatemalans in Denver) organization. They had a chance to meet other DJPC members at a fundraiser at the Buenos Aires Pizzeria. It was an amazing trip and everyone was impressed by their stories and experiences.
DJPC has been busy so far in 2011 and our schedule is not letting up! On May 19 we will hear stories of past GAP accompaniers, Ashley Williamson and Jason Boccaccio. Join us at DJPC headquarters (in the Fellowship Hall of Highlands UMC, at 3131 Osceola St.) to learn more about what it’s like to be a GAP accompanier, what accompaniment is and current human rights issues in Guatemala. If you can’t wait until May 19, be sure to keep checking the DJPC website or join us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Denver-Justice-Peace-Committee/191094847579951) to get updates on ways you can support peace and justice in Latin America!
(P.S. I’ll try to remember to upload some pictures into this post, so check back later if you’re reading this message!)