Massive wave of evictions of indigenous rural communities in Guatemala

Update March 21: Amnesty International Urgent Action 83/11: “Forced eviction of communities in Guatemala”

20 March:Evictions in Polochic Valley Denounced” – Short article on NISGUA’s blog with information from a press conference held March 18 by the National Coordination of Campesino Organizations (CNOC) (in English and Spanish).

Partial update, 17 March: It appears that more evictions were carried out today in the department of Alta Verapaz, faster than social movement and civil society organizations can respond or verify information. Hopefully I will have a more concrete update tomorrow. The current wave of violent displacement flies in the face of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s visit during the last two days, feeling like a direct statement of defiance and challenge by the military and landowners against the international community, a re-implementation of scorched earth in Guatemala.

16 March: Guatemalan rural workers’ and indigenous peoples’ organizations have reported a series of large-scale evictions in two separate regions of the department of Alta Verapaz in recent days, with many injuries and at least one confirmed death. More violent evictions are feared in the coming days.

(Trauma warning: links may include photos depicting violence and severe injuries.)

Coordinación Nacional Indigena y Campesina CONIC

  • The National Indigenous and Rural Worker’s Coordinating organization CONIC has reported violent evictions in the region of Salacuin and the Maya Q’eqchi’ communities of Yalcobe and Sekopur; initial reports have attributed responsibility to police, army, and natural resources guards for destruction of homes and crops, injuries, and possible deaths.  The evictions are reportedly connected with land conflicts related to national protected areas and a proposed military base.

Comité de Unidad Campesina CUC

  • The Committee of Campesino Unity CUC has denounced the violent eviction of at least 50 Maya Q’eqchi’ families from lands occupied in a dispute with the sugar and oil palm manufacturer Chabil Utz’aj, owned by the powerful businessman Carlos Widdman; initial reports have attributed responsibility to police, army, and private security forces for the destruction of homes and crops, injuries, and the confirmed death of community-member Antonio Bed Ac.

These violent evictions follow the recent two-month state of siege declared by the Guatemalan government in the department of Alta Verapaz, which placed the department under military rule with the stated intent of fighting organized crime and narcotics trafficking; indigenous and campesino organizations denounced the declaration of the first department-level state of siege since 1983 as a measure intended to facilitate the violent eviction of communities involved in land disputes with the state and agro-industrial and mining companies.

This post will be updated with links to information and calls for action as these become available; see the following sources for more information; see the comments section below for links to news reports:

About cascadiasolidaria

Human rights and solidarity activist from Cascadia, North America, writing about issues of justice and security in Guatemala and Central America from a perspective of solidarity with human rights and social movements.
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