The vibrant colors of the Indigenous weavings from Guatemala that appear on the traditional blouses known as huipiles, skirts and other items hold a deep symbolic meaning for communities across the Central American country, but they are also deeply intertwined with the promotion of tourism in Guatemala. The intricate designs greet tourists in promotional material at the airport, and companies and non-government organizations have sought to capitalize on the designs. For the last six years, Indigenous women have sought to challenge the exploitation of their sacred designs through the promotion of legislation that would protect their collective intellectual property rights. On Sept. 5, the Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez, or AFEDES, and the weavers of the Ruchajixik Ri Qana’ojbäl **movement, which means Guardians of Our Knowledge in the Kaqchikel language, presented their latest proposal for a law that would protect their weavings.
One of the particularities of tourism in Nicaragua is its democratization. Since the Sandinista government won elections in 2006 and came to power in 2007, the promotion and expansion of the tourism sector is increasingly important for Nicaraguans, contributing significantly to a rise in incomes for many lower-income families.[i] Contrary to the focus on tourism (or even ‘ecotourism) for export in many countries, the Nicaraguan government’s tourism policies incentivize Nicaraguan working-class family tourism.
The members of the Tourism Alert and Action Forum come from organizations around the world that have joined in solidarity to oppose exploitative forms of tourism and to act in solidarity with communities against such practices. We are watching the pandemic crisis with great concern, grounded in the knowledge that such crises: impact the most vulnerable communities disproportionately; that such crises are used to enact authoritarian policies and surveillance that long outlasts the crisis; and that corporate sectors and elites stand set to take advantage of this crisis. The corporate tourism, hospitality and events sectors have been brought to their knees by efforts to curtail and control the pandemic. Borders have been shut, travel has been banned, social activities have been curtailed and people told to stay in their homes.
Tourism is on the rise in the picturesque city of Oaxaca, known for its smoky mezcal, activist art scene, and diverse patchwork of Indigenous cultures. This year, visitors to the tiny airport in southern Mexico—where traffic is up 34 percent—were greeted by a billboard depicting smiling miners in a verdant field. “Welcome to Oaxaca,” the sign read, “where progress and nature coexist. Cuzcatlán Mining Company.” Cuzcatlán is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Fortuna Silver Mines, a Vancouver-based company that operates a gold and silver mine an hour south of the airport.
“Destination Île-à-Vache” is a government-driven tourist project planned for a small island off the northern coast of Haiti, Île-à-Vache. Plans include an international airport, golf courses,1,500 hotel bungalows, agri-tourism, and “tourist villages” which will include boutiques, restaurants and even a night club. Groundbreaking on the project occurred in August, 2013, without the inclusion or participation of the community. Once the construction on the road began in late 2013, the community began to peacefully protest and formed a local group in December, 2013 called KOPI (Collective for Île-à-Vache). In response, the government has coerced, repressed, and intimidated the population. A leader of the resistance movement has been a political prisoner - imprisoned without charge or trial – since February 24, 2014. The details of some of these acts are included in the declaration below.