PBI-Guatemala accompanies Indigenous CCDA Verapaz land defenders at court hearings

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On August 16, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Today we accompanied Marcelino Xol Cucul and Jorge Coc of the CCDA Verapaz in audience [at a court hearing]. We continue to express our concern for the safety of the two partners and their families and the development of due process in this case.”

PBI-Guatemala has explained, “The Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) is a peasant organization that accompanies and advises communities, mostly indigenous, that fight for access to land and ownership to create dignified living conditions in the face of eviction and dispossession of their lands where these communities have lived for many generations.”

On June 6 of this year, PBI-Guatemala posted, “Indigenous leaders and leaders continue to be criminalized in Alta Verapaz. We reaffirm that defending rights is not a crime. We witnessed the hearings of Marcelino and Jorge.”

Then it posted, “On June 14 we accompanied Marcelino and Jorge in an audience in the court of Cobán. Before starting the hearing, the two were allegedly threatened by members of the Cooperativa Chilté which is located near the community of Choctun Basilá where Marcelino and Jorge are originally from.”

That post adds, “There is a struggle of more than 10 years between the two communities. We express our concern for the safety of the two companions and their relatives.”

Prensa Comunitaria has reported that the Chilté Cooperative was “formed by a group of businessmen from the region through paramilitaries.”

In June 2017, the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IM-Defensoras) noted that members of the Chilté Cooperative had intimidated members of the CCDA over disputed land in the community of Choctún in Nuevo Centro.

Between May 9, 2018 and June 8, 2018, five members of the CCDA and two members of CODECA (the Campesino Development Committee) were killed.

After those deaths, NACLA reported, “CCDA and CODECA, represent the two campesino-Indigenous organizations that have most actively supported community struggles and most consistently challenged successive governments.”

It also noted, “Both groups have worked tirelessly … presenting legal injunctions against extractive projects, organizing regular highway blockades, supporting land occupations, and demanding the resignation of presidents in the wake of corruption scandals…”

PBI-Guatemala began accompanying the CCDA in July 2018.

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