Here is some advocacy-related news from around MCC Latin America: community-based engagement in Colombia, community-corporation negotiations in Guatemala, and research for peace-building in Bolivia.
The SEED program in Colombia brings together ten young people from the Americas (Canada, US, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru) and two coordinators for a two-year term to reflect, serve and advocate with Colombian communities. “Participants of the program come together for two years to reflect on the issues that maintain barriers – from economics, politics, and war; to culture, geography, and theology. The program connects the reflection on the big issues with community grassroots service together with communities who are working against significant violence, poverty, and oppression. While seeking to connect the macro to the micro, and learning to see how the large structures affect real communities, participants learn to speak as a community to advocate for peace, justice, and equality with global partners.” Follow their journey at this website: http://seed.mcc.org/
In previous posts on this site, MCCer Tobias Roberts has written about the situation of the Maya-Ixhil community, San Juan Cotzal, in northern Guatemala that is negotiating with the Italian transnational corporation building a hydro-dam in their community. Tobias recently published this article about the case in the Huffington Post, “Church Leaders Join Fight Against Italian Energy Giant in Rural Guatemala Over Construction of Palo Viejo Dam.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-roberts/guatemala-palo-viejo-dam_b_1124387.html?ref=religion
The country of Bolivia has geographic, cultural, religious, and class divides that challenge the creation of a just and peaceful society. MCC Bolivia is a member of an inter-institutional peace-building coalition, “La Plataforma Interinstitucional “Construyendo Paz, ” in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The coalition is made up of non-profit social development organizations that are working together for the construction of peace, justice, and democracy in Bolivia. Recently, the coalition sponsored a study entitled [translated from the original Spanish] “What divides us and what unites us: Social attitudes in Santa Cruz about cultural racism and socio-political violence.” Based on a survey of 800 residents, the results showed that although the historic cultural-racial divisions continue to exist between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to some degree, these are exacerbated by economic and political structural inequality. The survey also demonstrated the existence of positive elements, such as intercultural respect and democratic values, upon which a process of peace-building can be founded. For more information about the survey and the book, see: www.unirbolivia.org