Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Former accompanier in Guatemala documents indigenous communities' human rights struggles

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP) is now sponsoring Graham Hunt, former accompanier and photojournalist, who is now documenting the protests of indigenous organizations in Guatemala against the imposition of restrictions on their rights to decide what kind of development will happen on their own lands.

Indigenous Guatemalans protest an initiative, introduced by powerful interests, to devise a regulation for community consultas (referenda) -- on mega-projects such as mining and hydroelectric operations by large corporations -- without the consent or participation of the communities to be affected by the proposed legislation. (Photo © Graham Hunt and courtesy Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project)*

Hunt reports on a community group that is working to provide indigenous communities with the tools they need to make informed collective decisions as they are faced with national and transnational corporations proposing large-scale mining and hydroelectric operations.

A letter from Hunt is now published in CCGAP's March/April 2011 Newsletter on their Web site. Here is an excerpt:

By Graham Hunt

Thank you to Copper Country GAP for supporting me in my work in Guatemala. I recently spent a year as an accompanier in the Ixil region and have since been afforded a unique opportunity to pursue documentary photography projects in Guatemala for six months with the sponsorship of CCGAP.

One of the most critical challenges to accompaniment work is the commitment to effectively raise national and international awareness of human rights issues in Guatemala. We are called upon to bear witness to the struggles of those whom we accompany, and we are entrusted with their stories with the promise that we will not remain silent.... Read an edited version of Hunt's letter on his photo essay work and see more photos in the CCGAP March/April 2011 Newsletter.

Click here to read Hunt's complete letter.

*See the March 1, 2011, article, "Communities reject initiative to regulate community referenda," on the NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala) blog, with more of Graham Hunt's photos.

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