PBI-Guatemala accompanies UVOC to a court hearing on the La Primavera land conflict
On September 26, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Yesterday we accompanied UVOC [the Verapaz Union of Peasant Organizations] to a hearing in Cobán for the presentation of evidence in the case of the La Primavera community.”
PBI-Guatemala adds, “The agrarian conflict between the owner of the farm and the inhabitants began in 2004 and has led to 3 evictions.”
In November 2013, PBI-Guatemala interviewed UVOC lawyer Jorge Luis Morales about La Primavera and it provides a helpful context to understand this week’s hearing.
Morales stated, “The case of La Primavera is emblematic of the issue of agrarian disputes in Guatemala: it is a situation that we have lived through time and time again.”
“The workers and their families’ land tenure rights are a legitimate result of a working relationship and were violated when this property changed hands. The new landowners do not recognize this land tenure right and try to evict communities from the land.”
“La Primavera extends over an area of 43 caballerias (1 caballeria = 45 hectares), housing at least 400 mayapocomchí families. The land is extremely fertile and especially sought after by companies that specialize in mono-cultivation.”
“The companies Maderas Filitz Diaz S.A. and Eco-Tierra have claimed joint ownership of La Primavera since 2011. The former is a logging company whose objective is to use the finca for growing and cutting down trees. For this reason, the communities’ presence on the finca that was established more than 200 years ago, is not in the company’s interest.”
“The inhabitants of La Primavera are under constant threat and intimidation by private security personnel hired by the two companies. They carry arms illegally in the community, arrive armed to community meetings and threaten the participants with violence in an attempt to disrupt their activities.”
More recently, on August 9 of this year, PBI-Guatemala accompanied Justino Xollim to an intermediate stage court hearing. PBI-Guatemala posted, “He was unjustly accused of illegal logging at Finca la Primavera in San Cristobál Verapaz, where he lives. On this occasion, the case was provisionally closed.”
UVOC is an indigenous and peasant organization dedicated to the defence and promotion of access to land in the context of historical dispossession and ongoing inequality in Guatemala. UVOC represents Q’eqchi’, Poqomchi, Achi and Mestizas peoples.
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied UVOC since 2005.