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human rights

When We Were Young, There Was a War is documentary filmmaker Patricia Goudvis’ follow-up to If The Mango Tree Could Speak, a film about ten children, aged between twelve and fifteen, who grew up during the civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador.

In If The Mango Tree Could Speak, Goudvis captures, through a series of poignant vignettes, the children’s pain of living through conflict, loss and violence, as well as their hopes for a better future.

Civil war has had a deep and long-lasting affect upon Salvadorean and Guatemalan society. In When We Were Young, There Was a War, an interactive web documentary, Goudvis revisits the ten children, now young adults, and explores their experience, and that of Salvadoran and Guatemalan society in general, of life in the aftermath of the armed conflicts. In a statement, the filmmaker said:

“I’ve kept in touch with about half the kids over the years, and now I’ve located the rest. The four from Guatemala all still live there. Of the six Salvadorans, two stayed in El Salvador, three immigrated to the US and one to Australia. Some are single, others are married with children; some finished college, others nvever went to school. But all have grappled, in one way or another, with the losses they experienced as children surrounded by war. Finding out how they have done so, what choices they have made, and their thoughts and feelings about their earlier years is the purpose of making the follow up interactive web documentary.”

“In the original film, I asked who was winning in the battle between fear and hope? I wondered if the children’s spirits had been crushed and if their scars would be permanent. Now, with the benefit of time passed, I am eager to peer deeper into how individuals are profoundly marked by early experiences, as well as to reveal the strength of character that allows them to carry on with their lives.”

Goudvis’ When We Were Young, There Was a War is an excellent project which investigates post-conflict society in Guatemala and El Salvador through the eyes of ten young people who witnessed first-hand the horrors of war.

Using the medium of interactive web documentary, Goudvis interconnects interviews of the children when they were young with interviews of them as adults, and to deliver an interactive experience, she uses video material, text, photographs, and sound recording to provide in-depth contextual and historical information about the wars and the current human rights situation in both countries.

To view this documentary please visit: www.centralamericanstories.com/characters/dora

For more information about Patricia Goudvis and her work see: www.patgoudvis.com

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River Tabasara, Comarca Ngabe-Bugle, Panama

The following is a press release from Carbon Market Watch, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)and M10, a grassroots resistance movement, on the current situation regarding the Barro Blanco dam and the affected indigenous communities living alongside the River Tabasará in western Panama.  

Washington DC, Kaid, Bonn, 24 May – Today the floodgates were opened on the contentious UN backed Barro Blanco hydro dam in Panama, sparking forced removal by authorities of indigenous Ngäbe communities that are living in protest camps near the dam site. With construction finished, GENISA, the company that owns and operates the dam, has begun to flood the reservoir today, which will inundate six hectares of indigenous territories.

According to the Movimiento 10 de Abril (M10)—a group representing indigenous peoples directly affected by the project—35 community members including women and children, were arrested and are currently being held in police custody in the Missionary Center of Tolé. Following the arrests, backhoes moved into the area to tear down their encampments.

Local Ngäbe organizations are now on high alert and are planning on taking further actions to oppose the dam, which is financed by the German and Dutch national development banks (DEG and FMO) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration. Already fearing that the situation will escalate, international NGOs launched a petition in April 2016, calling on President Juan Carlos Varela to ensure that the affected Ngäbe people are free from intimidation and repression. The petition has been signed by 84,000 people to date.

“We, the affected communities, have never given our consent to Barro Blanco. This project violates the Panamanian Constitution and our indigenous rights. ASEP has not warned us about the imminent flooding that will destroy our crops, some of our houses and kill our livestock.” Declared Manolo Miranda, spokesperson of the M10.

National and international organizations are deeply concerned for the personal safety and security of the Ngäbe people and call on Panama to protect their rights including the rights to security and peaceful assembly.

Panamanian authorities must protect the rights of the Ngäbe people who have not consented to this project,” says Alyssa Johl, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law.  “We urge the Panamanian government to ensure the personal safety and security of the Ngäbe people and otherwise fulfill their human rights obligations. The world is watching.”

In 2015, Panama recognized that the Barro Blanco project had been approved in violation of the Ngäbe’s social and cultural rights, and the government temporarily suspended the construction of the project. A few months later, the government fined the project developer $775,000 for failing to adequately consult, relocate and compensate those adversely affected by the dam.  To this day, the government has not reached an agreement with the communities.

Barro Blanco is an UN-sponsored project that is designed to support sustainable development in poorer countries while enabling wealthier countries to achieve emissions reductions cost-efficiently. However, Barro Blanco demonstrates how climate mitigation projects can have adverse impacts on peoples and communities and the environments on which they depend.

The Paris Agreement recognized the need for human rights protections in climate action and created a new Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM) under which all countries will be able to generate and/or use credits to offset emissions. Parties of the UNFCCC are currently meeting in Bonn to discuss the modalities and procedure of the new SDM.

“Barro Blanco is a clear example of why human rights protections must be included in the newly established SDM. The SDM must learn from the CDM’s mistakes. As the Paris Agreement committed to protect human rights, Parties must ensure that another Barro Blanco never happens again” says Pierre-Jean Brasier, Network Coordinator at Carbon Market WatchA report to be published this week by Carbon Market Watch and Misereor also highlights the need to incorporate human rights into climate action, including the case of Barro Blanco.

A report to be published this week by Carbon Market Watch and Misereor also highlights the need to incorporate human rights into climate action, including the case of Barro Blanco.

Contact:

M10
Manolo Miranda
+507 6563-2790

Carbon Market Watch
Pierre-Jean Brasier
+32 484 61 29 76
pierre-jean.brasier@carbonmarketwatch.org

CIEL
Alyssa Johl
+1-510-435-6892
ajohl@ciel.org

Having toured 18 cities in 13 countries, the ‘Euro-Caravana 43’ human rights caravan ended its journey in London last Tuesday 19 May, marking the occasion with live music and dance in the main quad of the University College London. The caravan, whose purpose was to build European solidarity around the case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students, consisted of three participants: Omar García, a student who survived the police attack on 26 September 2014 that spirited away his classmates; Eleucadio Ortega, a parent of missing student Mauricio Ortega Valerio; and Román Hernandez, a human rights defender from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre in Guerrero. The caravan successfully brought together activists working in areas as diverse as Palestine, Colombia, Turkey and the UK. After a day of lively meetings and debates, more than a hundred participants gathered on the steps of the Neo-Classical Wilkins’ Portico to express their solidarity for the missing students, and to enjoy a series of performances. Performed by Cambridge-Mexico Solidarity, the jaguar dance featured in this video is a contemporary re-imagining of a pre-Columbian rite: in Mexico, as a primordial symbol beloved by warriors and shamans, the jaguar has always been associated with bravery, strength, and dignity.