Teresa Munoz is one of thousands of Central Americans searching for a better life in the United States. She’s not stuck in a cramped, unsanitary detention centre, but her immigration claim is mired in the Trump administration’s crackdown on asylum-seekers.
She’s from Guatemala, one of Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries, along with Honduras and El Salvador. That’s where the majority of people apprehended at the Mexico-U.S. border are coming from. There are many complicated reasons they’re all leaving, including the violent aftershocks of decades-long civil wars and farmland droughts that are being worsened by climate change.
The situation can seem tragic but also impenetrable, a political tangle of causes and effects happening far away. But among the many miserable migration tales, Ms. Munoz’s story hits close to home: She says she fled because of threats and attacks following her activism against a mine owned by a Canadian company.
In June, Ms. Munoz was profiled by The Intercept, a publication launched by journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill in 2014. She is from southeastern Guatemala, near the location of the silver mine Escobal, which was owned by the British Columbia-based company Tahoe Resources until earlier this year, when a takeover by Vancouver’s Pan American Silver was finalized.
Ms. Munoz is Indigenous, specifically Xinka. Since the Guatemalan government recognized some Indigenous rights in 1996, ancestral land claims have become a pressing political issue. In 2012, Tahoe told shareholders that, to the best of its knowledge, no Indigenous people were left in the area around Escobal. But the Xinka disagree, and have protested the mine for years.
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