Mayan Poqomchi defender Sandra Calel to speak at PBI webinar on COP26 on November 6

Published by Brent Patterson on

To register to hear Sandra Calel speak on November 6, click here.

The Guardian reports: “As world leaders inside the COP26 conference centre in Glasgow boasted about pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions and end deforestation, indigenous delegates gathered across the river Clyde to commemorate activists killed for trying to protect the planet from corporate greed and government inaction.”

That article highlights: “At least 1,005 environmental and land rights defenders have been murdered since the Paris accords were signed six years ago, according to the international non-profit Global Witness. One in three of those killed were indigenous people.”

It further notes: “2020 was the deadliest year on record for environmental and land defenders, with indigenous people accounting for half of the total 227 killed.”

Thirteen of those people were killed in Guatemala, the fourth most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders.

Despite this very dangerous situation, PBI accompanied Mayan Poqomchi defender Sandra Calel says there is no choice but to “continue weaving networks together to defend Mother Nature, to defend the planet, because it is the ship where we live, and if we continue destroying it, it will not only to suffer the Q’eqchí people, the Poqomchí people or the indigenous population of the world, but we will all suffer.”

Calel is a leader of the Verapaz Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC). The organization has 367 affiliated communities (about 50,000 families), 98 per cent of which are indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’, Poqomchi’ and Achi.

PBI-Guatemala has been accompanying UVOC since 2005, following threats and serious intimidation against some of its members.

During an advocacy tour in Europe in November 2019 that included Calel, Francesca Nugnes of Peace Brigades International noted: “It must be emphasized that indigenous women who assume leadership are especially vulnerable. In addition to criminalization, sexist and patriarchal violence is added.”

The Guardian highlights the exclusion, marginalization and tokenization of Indigenous peoples at COP26. The full article by Nina Lakhani can be read at: ‘A continuation of colonialism’: indigenous activists say their voices are missing at Cop26.

To hear directly from Sandra Calel, please register now for our webinar on Saturday November 6 that begins at 1 pm Eastern Time (11 am in Guatemala).

She will be joined by other speakers including Amaru Ruiz a Nicaraguan environmental defender forced into exile in 2019 after he denounced a massacre of indigenous people in the communities of the North Caribbean Coast and pointed out “the State and its institutions” of “deliberately omitting the duty to investigate these crimes.”

Colombian defender Danilo Rueda will also participate in this webinar. Rueda has stated: “Forced displacement and territorial dispossession of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities continue today, with agribusiness, particularly palm oil, cattle farming and mining projects in the area. Uncontrolled deforestation in one of the top 10 biodiverse regions of the world is destroying people’s livelihoods.”

Calel, Ruiz, Rueda and others are speaking this Saturday November 6. To register for this webinar, click here.

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