Father Marco Arana, one of Peru's most charismatic and respected mining activists, will be visiting Toronto from May 23rd to 28th, with Stephanie Boyd, a Canadian film maker based in Peru. Stephanie works with Guarango, an association of non-profit Peruvian film makers. She and her colleagues have made 2 award-winning documentaries about Peruvian indigenous and farming communities embroiled in conflicts with foreign mining companies.
Two informal meeting times have been organized for people to chat with Father Marco and to view a few short video clips. These meetings are open to anyone interested in meeting Father Marco and/or Stephanie. (Please RSVP to Stephanie at email@example.com).
1. Friday May 23rd, 3 pm, WACC offices*
The WACC (World Association for Christian Communication), is located near the Main St. subway, one stop past Woodbine, on the Bloor Danforth line. Their offices are right across the road from the subway exit, on the corner of Bloor and Main, attached to the Hope United Church. Instead of going into the church, look for the WACC sign and go in their entrance.
2. Monday May 26th, 9 am, Steelworker's Hall, near Queen's Park*
The Steelworker's Hall is at 25 Cecil St, near Dundas St W and Spadina.
This meeting was set-up by some groups working on mining advocacy issues who are involved in the Mother Earth Protector event that starts later that day at Queen's Park. There will also be a mining activist from El Salvador who is on a speaking tour with Development and Peace.
First Nations leaders will be camping out for several days at Queen's Park to protest mining and logging on their lands, and it should be a colorful, interesting and emotional event. The plan is to meet with the event organizers and anyone else who can come for about an hour and then head over to Queen's Park to talk with people who arrive early.
About Father Marco and Guarango:
Father Marco Arana was born and raised in Cajamarca, in Peru's northern Andean mountains, and has been working with indigenous farming communities since he was ordained as a Catholic priest 18 years ago. (He is currently 45 years old). In 1991 Marco mounted a lawsuit against the largest gold mining corporation in the world - Newmont Mining of Colorado - for the company's unfair and underhanded methods of coercing and tricking peasant farmers off their land.
The communities won their lawsuit and received a settlement, but the mine was constructed and is now South America's largest gold mine. Marco founded a non-profit organization called GRUFIDES to monitor the mine's activities and defend farming communities throughout his state embroiled in conflicts with transnational corporations.
He has won several awards and recognitions for his work, including the prestigious human rights award from Peru's National Coordinating Office for Human Rights for his role as mediator in a two-week blockade of the mine by farming communities. Thanks to Father Marco's efforts, the conflict was resolved peacefully, through negotiation, and the US-owned company agreed not to construct a new mine on a sacred mountain and important watershed.
In 2006 Father Marco began receiving death threats and later that year he discovered that a private investigative firm was following him and maintaining elaborate video and photo archives of all his movements. Luckily, the neighborhood watch helped apprehend one of the spies, who gave a full confession and led the local police to their spy headquarters. The police confiscated computers containing detailed reports, photographs and video-tapes of Father Marco's daily life, and we managed to obtain copies of this material, which we're organizing into a new documentary.
Synopsis of the film, entitled "The Devil Operation":
"Father Marco Arana, a humble parish priest from the mountains of Peru, is being followed. A private surveillance firm is video-taping and photographing the priest's every move; their meticulous reports are code-named "The Devil Operation." We follow Father Marco through a paper trail of political suspense and mystery that leads us to South America's largest gold mine. For the past decade, the priest and his band of eco-activists have defended farming communities against the mine's abuses, earning the priest the nickname "The Devil." This real life thriller exposes the new wave of persecution faced by Latin America's human rights activists."
Guarango´s first two mining advocacy films have been shown at more than 50 international festivals, as well as broadcasts on television in the United States, Canada, Peru, Cuba, Mexico and in the Arab world on Al Jazeera. We have distributed more than 1,000 DVDs of each film, free of charge, to grassroots groups in Peru, including educators, mining communities and community media. Both films have won several international awards and are being used in Canada and throughout the world by activist groups, educators, libraries and citizen's groups.
You can watch a trailer from their second film, about a valley of mango farmers that use peaceful resistance to stand-up to a Canadian mining company at: www.guarango.org/tambogrande
Please contact Stephanie at the email or phone numbers below if you require more information, and we hope to see you at one of the meetings
GTA contact numbers until May 28th:
Asoc. Guarango Cine y Video
785 Ave. Cayetano Heredia, Int. 2,
Lima 11, PERU
Tel: (511) 460-1135
Cel: (511) 9-599-3884