Guatemalan Environmental, Indigenous, and Social Justice Organization to Receive Human Rights Award from Denver Justice and Peace Committee


November 8th, 2018

Media Contact: Rebeca Zúniga-Hamlin

Tel.: 303-623-1463 / Cell: 720-606-1155


Guatemalan Environmental, Indigenous, and Social Justice Organization to Receive Human Rights Award from Denver Justice and Peace Committee

On Saturday, November 10th, the Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC) will present its annual Global Justice & Peace Award 2018 to the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET) in Guatemala, represented by José Gómez, at the Highlands United Methodist Church, 3131 Osceola St. Denver, at 6:00 pm. Suggested donation $20.

DJPC has been advocating for justice and peace in Latin America for over four decades, promoting human rights, economic and environmental justice for the disadvantaged in Latin America. We support the struggle for environmental justice in many countries where extractive corporations have been displacing people from their homes and contaminating their lands. On Saturday we will celebrate our work together with our community of supporters.

For over a decade, ACODET has successfully organized to halt the construction of the proposed Xalalá megadam, which if constructed would displace multiple campesino communities, the majority of whom are indigenous Maya. The proposed hydroelectric project was suspended in 2014 by the Guatemalan government, but threats to the environment and community remain; national and international companies continue to seek ways to push people off the land and exploit nature for profit. Today, ACODET monitors mega-development projects that continue to threaten their territory and works to strengthen equitable and culturally pertinent organizational leadership through popular education initiatives with ancestral authorities and women’s committees in each community.

To receive the award, José Gómez, Maya Mam activist and coordinator of ACODET will discuss the importance of indigenous organizing, grassroots exchange, and community consultations to lift up lessons from successful organizing in the Ixcán, Cobán, and Uspantán regions, where Indigenous communities have successfully halted the construction of a mega-dam for over a decade.

We will also be honoring John Whitson with the John Proctor Member of the Year Award 2018. John was born in 1949 and lived in Texas before as he put it “escaping” to Colorado. He graduated high school in 1967 and then attended Colorado State University (CSU), where he met wife. Has a BA in Philosophy from CU Denver and fathered two daughters while he was in school. One is a teacher and one a professor, and John has a total of 5 grandkids, aged 7 to 21. John currently works for the State dealing with unemployment claims. After years at work, he returned to school to do a Masters at Regis, and his connection to DJPC started through an assignment and a bit of luck. Contact with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) connected him to DJPC. There was an immediate synergy with our shared vision of compassion, inclusion, and non-violent action. John has been an outstanding DJPC member ever since.

Music for the event will be provided by Marcia and Pepe Cornejo, Matt Nicodemus and Mike Sterritt, and Andrea Savage. The emcee will be Jack Mudry of the local Denver jazz radio station KUVO. Jack is the host of KUVO’s La Nueva Voz.

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