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“Women Crossing the Line” is a three part mini-documentary series – developed in collaboration with JASS (Just Associates) – that spotlights the work of women activists in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. I filmed and helped to direct the video testimonials and storytelling for the Nobel Women’s Initiative delegation to report on violence against women in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. The group’s delegation traveled for ten days documenting homicides, disappearances, and attacks of sexual violence. Worked alongside veteran filmmaker Pamela Yates to tell the delegation’s findings.
“The road to San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala is a descent into a valley along an asphalt road riddled with potholes that could easily swallow your tire. In the chilly pre-dawn of a February day, six of us — a videographer, human rights activists, a photographer, an interpreter and a driver — make our way in the dark. We share the road with large and old slatted trucks carrying cattle, rickety brightly-painted school buses packed with sleeping passengers, women in traje, their indigenous dress, walking to town carrying babies across their chests. It’s cold and the stars outline the silhouette of the mountains that separate Guatemala from Mexico just an hour and a half to the west. On our right we start to see the first rays of the sun as we climb into the Sierra of the Cuchumatanes mountains, high above the clouds.
We’re moving into a conflict-torn area where communities, like San Miguel Ixtahuacán and neighbouring Sipacapa, have been drastically changed by the arrival of mining companies like Montana Exploradora, a Guatemalan subsidiary of the Canadian-owned mining company Goldcorp, which began the exploitation of the Marlin Mine in 2004. We’re not sure what to expect, but our role is clear: Record first-hand testimonies from women who say their lives have been changed dramatically by the mining in the area. We’re here as part of a larger fact-finding mission sent to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala in January by the Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI). Based in Ottawa, the organization was founded by six female recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, and is led by Laureate Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 prize for her anti-land mine work. The organization sends delegations of prominent citizens — lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, artists — into high-conflict areas around the world to investigate the plight of women and human rights defenders, defensoras, including those who are targeted as women — raped, assaulted, denied the power to protect their land, livelihood, health and families. We’ve heard some terrible stories during the past 10 days travelling through these countries.
This is an excerpt from “Guatemala women defenders defy Canadian mines and plead for help” written for Rabble.Ca.
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