Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Prologue: Solidarity’s Roots in a Refugee Camp

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pp. xi-xvi

WES MAULTSAID, an Anglican priest and staff member with the British Columbia Interchurch Committee on World Development Education, and Marta Gloria de la Vega, a Guatemalan in exile, toured Guatemalan refugee camps in the Mexican state of Chiapas in January of 1983, invited by Hugh McCullum, then-Editor of the United...

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Preface

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pp. xvii-xix

GUATEMALA UNEXPECTEDLY slipped into my life in July 1983. An adult educator and United Church of Canada diaconal minister, I was working at Dialogue Centre, a United Church ecumenical peace and justice program in Montreal. I was asked to be an official observer at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Vancouver. No...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-xxii

MY DEEPEST THANKS goes to the Guatemalans with whom I have been privileged to work in solidarity, first in Canada and then in Guatemala. Their lives are testimony to courage, hope, and an unextinguishable commitment to justice. This book does not begin to do justice to their passion for life nor to the profound influence they have...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

GUATEMALA’S CIVIL WAR formally ended on December 29, 1996, with the signing of peace accords. The end of war did not automatically bring peace, and the signing of peace accords did not mean the overnight establishment of democracy and justice. The call for solidarity from the Guatemalan popular movement (churches, trade...

Part I: Setting Solidarity in Context

Map of Guatemala

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p. 8

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1. A Brief Historical Overview

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pp. 9-19

SINGER AND SONGWRITER Lennie Gallant, a Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence delegation member, connected the suffering he met with the ruthless colonial history that began with Pedro de Alvarado’s conquest in 1524. Friar Bartolomé de las Casas accused the Spanish conquistador of “committing enormities, sufficient to fill a particular...

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2. Maya Refugees—From Exodus to Return

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pp. 21-33

AMASS EXODUS from Guatemala into Mexico began. More than two hundred thousand campesinos fled with only the ragged clothes on their backs, traumatized by memories of rape, torture, and assassinations, as well as the loss of family members and neighbours who had become separated or died on the journey. Many hid in the jungle and...

Part II: Weaving Threads of Solidarity

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3. Project Accompaniment—A Canadian Response

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pp. 37-55

THIS CHAPTER EXPLAINS how and why Project Accompaniment (which came to be known as Project A), a network of Canadians who accompanied refugees returning from Mexico into Guatemala, originated. It sets Project A within the context of the refugees’ dogged determination to set their own conditions for the Return to Guatemala in the...

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4. Accompaniment in War and Peace

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pp. 57-99

ON JANUARY 20, 1993, returning refugees clambered aboard seventy-eight buses with one hundred and seven accompaniers from Canada, the US, Britain, and several European countries, notably Spain, Germany, and Holland. Canadians included retired teacher and writer Alison Acker, community development worker Frank Green, and...

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5. Project A Comes to a Close

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pp. 101-111

THIS CHAPTER FIRST DEALS with the challenging process of closing down a successful project. It then assesses some of the conflictual issues Project A faced during its existence. A : Making the Decision Should Project A continue or end? That quandary took almost two years to resolve, despite the fact that the organization was originally intended...

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6. The Christian Task Force on Central America in British Columbia

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pp. 113-129

PROJECT ACCOMPANIMENT was rooted in solidarity relationships that began two decades earlier, particularly those built by the Christian Task Force on Central America (CTF), now called the Ecumenical Task Force for Justice in the Americas. Part A of this chapter summarizes Canada’s early history of solidarity work, which had a major impact on...

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7. Breaking the Silence in the Maritimes

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pp. 131-149

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then we can work together. THE MARITIMES-GUATEMALA Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) mission statement begins with this quote, attributed to an Australian aboriginal woman. Like the Christian Task Force, it has come to see its purpose as seeking liberation in the North and the South, based on relationships of mutuality.

Part III: A Tapestry with Many Forms

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8. New Forms of Solidarity

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pp. 153-188

THIS CHAPTER DESCRIBES the many forms of solidarity that have emerged from the Christian Task Force on Central America (CTF) in British Columbia and Breaking the Silence (BTS) in the Maritimes. Based on “building bridges, connections, experience, and education,” they have been creative, flexible responses to unprecedented repression in...

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9. Solidarity’s Creative Heart

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pp. 189-196

GUATEMALANS DO NOT SEPARATE artistic expression from political action. Tito Medina of Kin Lalat said: “Connecting song and music with solidarity was a way of keeping hope alive, because we had lost so much” (TI). A refugee told Wes Maultsaid: “We took the community’s marimba apart. Everyone had to carry a piece. We carried it...

Part IV: The Spirituality of Solidarity and Its Challenges

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10. Creating Relationships: The “Spirit” of Solidarity

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pp. 199-227

SOLIDARITY IS “REVOLUTIONARY,” claims Marta Gloria de la Vega, adding that it is “of the heart, of faith,” not simply an intellectual response. Tito Medina speaks of “the mysticism of solidarity,” a movement for political action yet something that goes to the very heart of what it means to be human. This chapter describes the spirituality of solidarity,...

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11. Fresh Insights on Faith

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pp. 229-240

THE SOLIDARITY EXPERIENCE has changed the faith of Canadian Christians. Part A of this chapter highlights some of the insights they have gained. Part B describes discoveries Canadians have begun to make about Maya spirituality’s significance. A : Solidarity and Faith Faith is transformed and deepened by solidarity with Guatemalans. It is literacy training in faith, humanization, and politics...

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12. Four Challenges to the Church

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pp. 241-259

SOLIDARITY RELATIONSHIPS transform and deepen Canadians’ faith. Yet when they return to their home churches, solidarity activists often become frustrated, saddened, and disenchanted. They do not readily find a passion for justice in the life of most local churches. They discover that “the notion of a spirituality that relates to politics seems...

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Epilogue: Keeping Vigil for an Elusive Peace

BISHOP GERARDI SPOKE THESE WORDS during the presentation of the Recovery of Historical Memory Report (REMHI) in the Guatemala City Cathedral. Two days later he was assassinated by military guards linked to the president’s office. His words continue to inspire and guide both Guatemalans and the international solidarity movement. Sixteen months before Gerardi’s murder,...

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Part 1: What Shapes Solidarity Today?

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pp. 263-274

One morning in early November 2000, I was forcibly reminded of the gravity of Guatemala’s situation. I was preoccupied by a deadline looming for submission of a proposal for young adults to work as interns with human rights groups and NGOs in Guatemala. I was also anxious to complete this book. While my focus was Guatemala, I had set aside the grim reality of a deteriorating human rights situation in which...

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Part 2: Where Do We Go from Here?

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pp. 275-287

At the end of 2001, a UN report on the independence of judges and lawyers pointed to the “social cancer” of impunity as a key source of the human rights crisis in the country. It was highly critical of government inaction and an incompetent justice system and warned that if impunity were not addressed, it would slowly destroy Guatemalan society.

Abbreviations

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pp. 289-290

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Research Participants

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p. 291

THIS LIST DOES NOT INCLUDE most Guatemalans interviewed. Because of ongoing security concerns in Guatemala, only those Guatemalans whose names are already well known in the public domain have been used. Those who are identified by name are individuals whose names appear frequently in the print and electronic media in Guatemala.

Bibliography

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pp. 293-300

Index

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pp. 301-314