Luxury hotel throws out Guatemalan Nobel prizewinner Rigoberta Manchu

This video is called Rigoberta Menchu Live at The Human Forum Part 1.

Part 2 is here.

From the Guardian in Britain:

Hotel mistakes Nobel laureate for bag lady

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent

She was wearing a Mayan dress, the traditional attire of indigenous people in central America, and the hotel’s response was also traditional: throw her out.

Staff at Cancun’s five-star Hotel Coral Beach appear to have assumed this was another street vendor or beggar, so without asking questions they ordered her to leave. Except the woman was Rigoberta Menchú, the Nobel peace prizewinner, Unesco goodwill ambassador, Guatemalan presidential candidate and figurehead for indigenous rights.

The attempted eviction, an example of discrimination against indigenous people common in central and south America, backfired when other guests recognised Ms Menchú and interceded on her behalf.

Guatemalan Banana Union Leader Murdered: here.

Miguel Angel Asturias was born on October 19, 1899 in Guatemala City. He became a poet and novelist, who would become well-known for El Senor Presidente (1946). See here.

Revealed: how multinational [banana] companies avoid the taxman: here.

Guatemala calls state of public calamity over famine fears: here.

Photo essay: Guatemalan Indigenous communities resist violent eviction by Canadian mining company: here.

2 thoughts on “Luxury hotel throws out Guatemalan Nobel prizewinner Rigoberta Manchu

  1. Jax paper article
    Posted by: “Compañero” chocoano05
    Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:47 am (PST)
    *An Alternative Voice *

    *Joanne Herrmann *
    *Community Columnist*
    *Thursday, November 8, 2007*

    *Good Bridges Make Good Neighbors*

    *Joanne Herrmann*

    “The truth is we can’t build big enough walls to keep our problems
    in and others’ problems out.” (Carol Mosley, Co-Founder, Bridges
    Across Borders)

    Carol Mosley would be in agreement with the poet, Robert Frost, who
    says, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” He compares the
    neighbor who “will not go behind his father’s saying,.. good fences
    make good neighbors,” to an “old-stone savage armed,” moving in
    darkness and shut off from the rich possibilities of a more open

    Mosley, co-founder and dedicated force behind the nonprofit
    organization, Bridges Across Borders (BAB) is well aware of those
    possibilities, which she has pursued and seen to fruition these past
    twelve years. “Our mission statement is to dissolve the imagined and
    imposed borders between us,” said Mosley in an Online interview.
    “Those borders are the stereotypes and misconceptions we have been
    taught about each other as well as the boundaries imposed by
    governments.” Her stance challenges the present trend to tighten the
    control over the influx of immigrants over our borders.

    She has a ready response to those who would crack down on so-called
    illegal immigrants. “To demonize hard working people who are trying
    to make a better life for themselves as illegal and criminal, is a
    false attempt at personal security. When I hear the argument about
    smugglers and unseemly types, I always get a vision of the movies
    we’ve seen of bank robbers and train robbers heading ‘south of the
    border’ to escape prosecution. That doesn’t represent the bulk of
    travelers in either direction,” she said.

    “We need to imagine ourselves faced with a natural disaster in which
    we lose our home. We have to migrate to another county or another
    state. Imagine a severe drought, like a dust bowl, and your people
    starving. Imagine a massacre that sends you fleeing across whatever
    border offers any possibility of safety, even if not offering a
    promise of security… even if you know that to cross a line makes you
    an illegal alien forced into the shadows.” To Mosley, these and
    similar circumstances are what motivate people to seek refuge in the
    United States and elsewhere.

    “Why are we willing to bring in resources from a place but not the
    people whose loss of those resources have made them destitute?” she
    asked. “If job security is the concern, then supporting Fair Trade,
    rather than Free Trade, would eliminate the constant corporate
    global shifting to seek ever cheaper wages.” In other words,
    supporting the work of people in their own countries would be a
    better solution to the problem of illegal immigration than allowing
    corporate incursions and control.

    “We need to remember that things like pollution created in one place
    don’t respect the border lines, but invade areas that now pay the
    costs even though they never attended the consumption party,” she

    Referring to a quote from Mary Sarton, “Turn toward each other
    quietly and know that there are still bridges even nations cannot
    overthrow,” Mosley explained why she helped form Bridges Across
    Borders. “About a dozen years ago I met my Co-Madre (Co-Mother), Ana
    Maria Vasquez, and began my travels to the jungles of Central and
    South America.” she said. “There I met the most beautiful place I’ve
    ever known and watched it become a massacre site, making an
    undeniable connection between the environment and human rights.”

    “No matter where we travel,” she said, “we have seen repetitive
    patterns of need. All people need the same basic essentials of clean
    air and water, sufficient nutrition, adequate housing, access to
    basic health care, education for our children, and meaningful work
    to engage us.”

    “We know that diminishment of resources leads to conflict. We know
    that even the preparation for war is environmentally destructive.
    And we know that war as a means of resolving conflict takes
    generations to emotionally overcome, no matter what the conflict
    outcome. So we work on small but meaningful projects of economic
    empowerment in keeping with the local cultural traditions. We work
    on human rights issues affecting people and their land. And we work
    with youth to teach creative conflict resolution and steps to
    creating peace.”

    To this end — establishing the cooperation of people in meeting
    their mutual needs, Mosley and Co-Founders, Ana Maria Vasquez, Bruce
    Lasky, and David Pred, gathered together an “international
    collaboration of activists, artists, students and others who cherish
    cultural diversity and global peace.”

    “The four Co-Founders of BAB are all dedicated activists who came
    together because the respective work we were involved in has common
    threads despite the diverse regions of the planet where we had all
    been working.,” said Mosley who proceeded to talk about a plethora
    of activities facilitated by BAB. “We work with cooperatives of
    papermakers and soap makers; weavers of cotton “mochilas” and palm
    baskets; carvers of wood and tagua, aka vegetable ivory because it
    looks and feels like ivory but it comes from a seed, so no animal
    had to lose body parts.”

    “We just held a Viva la Mujer benefit concert to honor the strength
    of women and we had musicians and poets and other volunteers who
    used their creativity to further the work of BAB.”

    “We are always seeking new POPs (People of Passion) who want to
    help,” she added. “We have a wonderful program teaching Suzuki
    violin to kids in an orphanage in Magdalena, Mexico. In Cambodia we
    are working with a group called Tiny Toones that teaches break
    dancing to street kids. One of our Co-founders, Ana Maria Vasquez,
    is an incredible Eco-artist who donates her art to our fundraising
    efforts. We sell the reproductions on our Website and at events. She
    also is an amazing mural painter and incorporates the community into
    the mural project. Right now they are making adobe and painting a
    mural with natural paints in Mexico.”

    Out of the six major goals for BAB, Mosley cites three where she
    feels that the organization has achieved the most success. One is to
    be a facilitator of local talent and community networking.

    “Everything happens in collaboration with others,” she explained..
    “Frequently we are just the initiators and weavers, then some other
    group will tap in and do such remarkable justice to a program that
    we are delighted to pass it on and fill some other holes. We then
    just make ourselves secondary to the operation of the projects. By
    being on hand in the region we can troubleshoot and then serve as
    support. We never seek ownership. We just want to get things going
    and in self sustaining mode as much as possible. The projects
    themselves actually belong to the people we serve.”

    “We frequently facilitate cross cultural exchanges,” she continued,
    “bringing people to tell their stories first hand. In addition to
    traveling and bringing volunteers to the regions where we have
    projects, we also attend their events, such as the Wayuu “Yanama” in
    the Colombian coastal desert this past April.”

    Another goal is to preserve ancient cultures and ecosystems, which
    is met, according to Mosley, “through our solidarity with indigenous
    people’s land rights, promoting Fair Trade of their crafts, and
    sponsoring cultural interchanges. We do our little part to preserve
    ancient species of sea turtles by collecting and hatching turtle
    eggs, then releasing the babies back to sea. It is an amazing thrill
    to hold a tiny turtle in your hand but a painful realization knowing
    that the odds are very scarce that she will survive to return to
    this beach for nesting.”

    The third area of success is in providing basic services. Mosley
    cites examples,”such as feeding the Elders in Jaque, Darien, Panama
    through our Meals on Heels program; recycling the town’s paper with
    our handmade paper cooperative; collecting and recycling plastics or
    making methane gas for cooking from organic waste in our Garbage
    Reduction and Transformation project, or hosting Youth Leadership

    “In Southeast Asia, we work on a Housing Rights campaign; we have
    provided vaccines for thousands of kids who work picking through
    garbage at the landfill for anything of value; and we provide
    Clinical Legal Assistance to trainees who can act as a consultant in
    remote villages.”

    In relation to these activities, Fair Trade is one of Bridges’
    Across Borders’s major efforts .

    “Indigenous groups have always had artisans that represent their
    unique cultures through weaving, carving, sewing, and have always
    sold their crafts” said Mosley.. “Providing an additional fair
    outlet for their crafts is a big boon to their economy as well as
    helping us to connect people here in the north to their causes for
    self sufficiency.”

    “In the case of the afro-population, many of whom are refugees from
    a massacre in Colombia now living in Panama, they landed there with
    nothing and no hope of making money.” she added, referring to an
    ongoing paper-making project. “Now the ladies are making the most
    beautiful recycled paper cards. We work mostly, though not
    exclusively, with women’s cooperatives. Financial empowerment to
    women translates into immediate betterment for the family. We
    collaborate with other groups in Panama to market the paper in the
    city and those groups have even sponsored workshops for the
    papermakers to enhance their artistic and marketing skills.”

    “But this is a small town (Jaque in Darien, Panama,) and we never
    want to set up a factory situation. Right now the ladies get
    together under an outdoor structure and the kids are playing while
    the ladies make the mash and set the deckle to dry on old tin sheets
    in the sun. So we can’t always guarantee quantity to be sold through
    some of the Fair Trade catalogs.”

    “We do want to get set up in small local Fair Trade stores, but we
    have to do that on a case by case basis according to stock on hand.
    We sell on our Website as well ( and we
    are now in the process of enhancing the online shopping
    capabilities. We will be getting some beautiful new things for the
    holidays which will arrive here in mid-September.”

    In conjunction with the campaign for Fair Trade, Mosley also
    referred to ongoing solidarity with WAYUU, an indigenous group, and
    the campaign for the closing of SOA/WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere
    Institute for Security Cooperation).

    “We have been attending the SOAW demonstrations as an organization
    since our inception.” she pointed out. “The School of Americas, now
    aka WHINSEC, is a training ground for Latin American soldiers. The
    “school” was previously located in Panama, where it was known as
    Escuela de Asasinas, or School of Assassins, until it was ousted
    from there and set up at Ft. Benning, GA. Closing the training
    ground is directly related to our work in Central and South America,
    since many of the perpetrators of massacres have been SOA graduates.
    Manuel Noriega of Panama was a star pupil prior to his arrest, by
    the way. Many other less infamous graduates have committed
    documented atrocities.”

    “For the last two years we have brought Debora Barros Fince,
    indigenous WAYUU representative, to the gates of Ft. Benning to
    speak of the massacre committed against her Colombian coastal desert
    community. Her clan is in exile in Venezuela right now and each year
    they host an international return to their land so it is not deemed
    abandoned and sold to the mining company extracting from the area.”

    “Each year the U.S. Congress gets closer to de-funding this SOA
    training ground. Like Abu Graib, a name change to WHINSEC can’t
    clean up the memories of the history. Too many atrocities have been
    associated with its activities. The trainings of SOA and funding of
    Plan Colombia have only served to fuel the internal conflict in
    Colombia. There is too much evidence of collusion between the
    Colombian military and the paramilitary to pretend that our tax
    dollars are being used well by the Colombian government.”

    “Some few readers may have seen, hidden somewhere in the back pages
    of their newspaper, that Chiquita was deemed guilty of hiring
    paramilitary who murdered union organizers in Colombia. Shame,
    shame, shame on Chiquita and other corporations who resort to such
    abhorrent behavior in order to maintain low wages without

    The work involved in Bridges Across Borders is not easy and Mosley
    recounts that they have met with obstacles along the way.

    “We work in some pretty remote regions,” she said, “so one challenge
    is communication between here and there. Where we work in the Darien
    jungle there are no roads, no internet, and only two phones in town
    that only sometimes work. Things don’t always follow an expected
    timeline, so we have lots of chances to test our virtuous patience.”

    “Getting visas to bring people here from Colombia and Panama can be
    a challenge to our goal of people to people sharing of cultures. It
    is getting harder all the time for people who do not have monetary
    means to be granted permission to visit,” she added.

    “And financing is always an obstacle. Though we keep our operating
    costs very ‘low budget’ by not paying office rent it is still a
    struggle just to raise the funds to pay for our part time
    administrative assistant,” she explained. “We are located out in the
    country just northeast of Gainesville and we humbly maintain our
    offices in a reconstituted old construction trailer. We’re a small
    organization with a big reach.”

    On occasion we host local FUNdraisers, such as our mural painting
    party on our office trailer or the Viva La Mujer benefit concert at
    the historic Thomas Center in Gainesville. If people just let us
    know to include them in our email events list we’ll be happy to keep
    them posted.”

    “But we mostly get to meet new people by moving around ourselves, so
    we encourage groups and classes to invite us to give a presentation.
    We can give presentations appropriate to all age groups on a number
    of topics,” she offered.

    “Another thing folks can do is to host a house party. They can
    invite their friends and we can even make a special dinner party and
    Fair Trade crafts sale. This is a great idea for holiday shopping
    with conscience, and we will be fresh back from Darien in September
    with a new and beautiful supply of Waunaan baskets, recycled paper
    cards, and other goodies. Maybe your group wants to sell some crafts
    to raise money for our collective projects, your own group’s
    projects, or both. For those who have a special talent to share in a
    hands-on fashion, we have internships and volunteer opportunities

    “Of course, we always hope that folks will support our work by
    general donations, personal or gift memberships, or conduct a yard
    sale, bake sale, or other fundraising activity to adopt a project of
    your choosing.”

    A native Floridian who grew up as a teenager in Miami, Mosley claims
    that she was nurtured by a “real tree-hugger” mother and that her
    “stompin’ ground” included the Florida Keys and the Everglades,
    which she saw change dramatically over her time spent there.

    “I was also greatly influenced by growing up in the ’50s and ’60s,”
    she added.. “I was a product of duck and cover drills and the
    piercing sound of the Saturday afternoon air raid siren. I lived a
    block from the railroad tracks in Miami during the Cuban Missile
    Crisis and I saw the tanks and missiles being shipped to Homestead
    Air Force Base.

    Early on Mosley realized that people have no vested interest in war,
    but governments do. “Once I realized the duck and cover drills were
    a perpetrated ruse, not a plan of action for survival, I was mad at
    my government for deceiving us all about their MAD (Mutually Assured
    Destruction) scheme and traumatizing my childhood”

    “And then, as a teenager, there was Vietnam. I was horrified by the
    visuals of death and destruction, and I was shocked and ashamed by
    photos of the My Lai massacre. I questioned what kind of
    dehumanization it would take to cause one human to treat another so
    cruelly. I began to protest the war,” she said.

    “As an adult,” Mosley said, “I quit my legal secretary’s job and
    volunteered at the Environmental Center of Miami Dade College, where
    I was nurtured by some wonderful Earth Literacy mentors. My field of
    study at FIU was Environmental Sciences with a minor in Sociology,
    so I guess that makes me a Social Ecologist. Although, I really
    prefer to stay out of the boxes of ists or isms.”

    Mosley long ago came to the conclusion that borders and the enmity
    they fostered were political artifacts. ” I began to look at
    ‘geographic history’ patterns.,.” she said. “The imaginary lines
    called borders would be redrawn and names would be changed hundreds
    of times over. So called ‘leaders’ would come and go, some
    beneficent and others unbelievably cruel. Some awful dictators, like
    Duvalier of Haiti and Marcos of the Philippines, were even installed
    with the help of my own government.”

    “I wondered what it might mean to be a person who lives on and
    nurtures a plot of land in what they know to be a particular country
    under a particular rule of governance, only to find ones self
    suddenly bound by another set of rules or, even worse, to be
    displaced from the only land you have known. What about those
    relatives who now live on the ‘other side?'” she asked.

    “For us at BAB,” she emphasized, ” the ability to move around and to
    bring visitors is crucial to being able to develop appreciation for
    each other’s cultures. When we can eat together, laugh together,
    discuss our common problems together, then we can view each other’s
    culture with an appreciation for what each brings to the table.”

    In his poem “The Mending Wall,” Robert Frost adds, “Before I built a
    wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out/And to
    whom I was like to give offence.” Through Bridges Across Borders,
    Carol Mosley has essentially reached out and built sociological
    bridges over the walls of borders and in the process has shown how
    living and working together in a multicultural world can be done
    with style and grace and an abundance of loving kindness.

    *First Coast Community, and The Florida Times-Union
    have no responsibility for the views, opinions and information
    communicated here. The contributor(s) are fully responsible for this
    content. The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily
    those of First Coast Community, or The Florida

    “One has to have a great dose of humanity, a great dose of the
    feeling of justice and of truth not to fall into extreme dogmatism,
    into a cold scholasticism, into isolation from the masses. Every day
    one has to struggle that this love to a living humanity transform
    itself into concrete acts, in acts that serve as examples, as
    motivation.” Ernesto “Che” Guevara


  2. Pingback: First-Ever Case of Canadian Mining Company Going To Trial In Canada For Alleged Abuses Abroad | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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