Update from El Estor & brief history of this blog for new readers

I’m very flattered to see that the number of people who subscribe to my blog has grown these past two weeks–I’m guessing in response to my post about Michael Brown’s death. There are many ideas in that post that I cut out in an earlier draft, and I am planning to revisit these thoughts in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I would like to give my newer readers some background for why I began this blog, and provide a much needed update on the community of El Estor, Guatemala.

In 2012, I attended the Guatemala Human Rights Commission’s (GHRC) fall speakers tour where community activist Maria Choc spoke about how the Canadian Nickel Mining Company, HudBay Minerals, had brutalized her community–how its security forces had raped eleven women, murdered community leader Adolfo Ich, and shot and paralyzed a young man named German Chub Choc. My accounts of the history of El Estor and Maria Choc’s talk can be found here and here. I was very moved by Maria’s talk–her description of the atrocities El Estor had experienced, and how the community was fighting back through a lawsuit against HudBay Minerals and resiliently rebuilding their lives. I wanted to do something, and when a member of the audience had asked, “what can we do to help?” Maria stated that the community needed funds for a wheelchair and German’s ongoing medical needs, as well as startup capital so he could independently operate a corner store.

Coming from a disability rights perspective, raising funds so that German could experience greater independence and inclusion appealed to me. I set up an Etsy store and created this blog as a forum to explain how and why I was selling my handmade crafts. I also wrote about issues intersecting with my project, like the Affordable Health Care Act’s effect on people with disabilities, and reflections on social justice. I soon discovered that making felt purses is a very inefficient way to fundraise, even more so when no one buys them. The organization Rights Action, which works in solidarity with Central Americans to improve human rights, launched an appeal to fund a home for German and his family.

Since then, my blog has undergone some shifts, but remains a forum where I, as the no longer misspelled tagline states, share resources and reflect on issues pertaining to social justice, human rights, and disability. Included in this catchall, is news about German Chub Choc and El Estor, which can be found here, and now I have a few updates.

1. Mynor Padilla, the former head of HudBay security, responsible for shooting German and seven other people, and murdering Adolfo Ich, remains in jail. I am sad to report that German is being harassed by people agitating for Mynor Padilla’s release, and German is experiencing health problems from conditions associated with his spinal cord injury. Rights Action. “Hudbay Minerals: Stop the Harassment in Guatemala Concerning Mining Related Criminal and Civil Lawsuits.” August 22, 2014. http://www.rightsaction.org/action-content/hudbay-minerals-stop-harassment-guatemala-concerning-mining-related-criminal-and

2. The people’s court in Canada held a mock trial for the El Estor lawsuit against HudBay, and the verdict was guilty. Under-mining Guate. “HudBay Minerals Declared Corporate Criminals in People’s Trial.” May 8, 2014. https://rachelblumesmall.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/hudbay-minerals-declared-corporate-criminals-in-peoples-trial/

3. The documentary film Defensora, which tells the story of El Estor’s lawsuit against HudBay Minerals, was screened in Canada on April 22, 2014. The trailer is included in this link. The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN).” April 22–Defensora Screening.” March 25, 2014. http://mininginjusticesn.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/april-21-2014-defensora-screening/

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