A Network of Youth In Resistance In Guatemala
After spending 9 months visiting and thanking churches for their commitment to the mission, I returned to continue serving alongside the Christian Ecumenical Council of Guatemala and get more involved with the guardian communities of their territories.
Héctor Virgilio Castañeda-Midence, one of the coordinators of the Christian Ecumenical Council of Guatemala, is a talented young leader who had the spark lit. He was already involved in a network with the youth of the communities organized against mining companies, such as Pan American Silver and Gold Corp, and of the indigenous communities that have recovered ancestral lands with property titles that date back to when Guatemala was still a colony of Spain.
Héctor assembled an organizing team, which visited 5 resistance groups with which the CECG had developed closeness. The youth of the communities accepted the proposal to form a national network. From the dialogue with them, the goal was to produce a training module to raise awareness and balance and strengthen the communities in their struggles. Héctor prepared the module of 5 topics, with 2 workshops for each issue. This is how this brilliant and charismatic intellectual defines it.
To achieve community truth, a sincere and balanced dialogue on the following issues is essential:
- Religious systems of oppression impose a “single story,” a single spirituality, and a single religion.
- Masculinities with a single way of being a man: toxic, based on the ego of conquest, and the suppression of revealing emotions, on the objectification of the other.
- Art as a single form, as commerce, fame, and nothing more. However, art is resistance, and there is art in resisting, which liberates, nourishes, and strengthens the spaces that advocate liberation.
- Communication as channels to make visible the sources of spiritual resistance: use of social networks as means of reporting, preparation of statements, contacts with the press, use of tools for audiovisual productions, and others.
- And lastly and most importantly, the creation of community ecumenical councils, where community religious leaders who resist the totalitarian attacks of religion that act as a political and ideological instrument of extractive companies converge. The goal is to achieve the organization and maintenance of an ecumenical network of young people in spiritual resistance from the territories, from their bodies, and from art.
Capsules of what Héctor explained about the first 2 topics in the workshop on September 8-10, 2023, at Casa San Benito:
• Religious fundamentalism serves as an ideological and political instrument of oppression because they are totalitarianism that imposes an absolute truth. They apply condemnatory stigmas to those who deviate from that single reason; They extend their blessing to corrupt leaders, dismantle resistance, and confuse and manipulate the population through fear and misinformation.
• Our ecumenical, counter-hegemonic proposal rescues religion as a social phenomenon, which unites again (re-ligare) and creates bridges that facilitate encounters with others. In the workshop, Héctor worked on the silhouette dynamics that induce an intimate connection between one another. He stated that authoritarianism is disarmed when we can live faith in a key of tenderness.
• Masculinities that balance and accompany tenderness disarm the dominating, who say, “Do what I say or get shot.” A dynamic of introspection encourages father and husband to listen and accompany with affection, and thus, break the conventions of the abusive sexist-patriarchal culture.
Sister Maudilia led a fight that resulted in Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine closing operations in San Marcos. Today, Leodan, Maudilia’s nephew, leads the youth in the fight in San Marcos. Each territory’s conscious and organized young people are now linking themselves through the emerging national network of youth guardians of creation.
There is a church that sells itself to power and that, from its pulpits, legitimizes corrupt governments and hurts the people who protect creation. However, by divine grace, it is not the only church. The Ecumenical Council builds a grassroots ecumenism with a clear awareness of the history of the lands recovered from the farmers or the State, whose residents suffer evictions and arrest warrants by the army and the police.
The Ministry of Public Education does not unravel the rights violations. Still, the education and spirituality promoted by the Council always start from ethics.
These youth believe in life.
Organize your creation justice group and join this network from your country.
In the style of Jesus, these youth announce liberation and call us to be prophets, to liberate with gestures of tenderness.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Ricardo’s appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.