PBI-Guatemala accompanies CCDA Verapaz on visit to communities of Xyaal Kobee and Xa Jobche

Published by Brent Patterson on

On November 30, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Projected posted, “The day before yesterday we accompanied CCDA Verapaz to visit the communities of Xyaal Kobee and Xa Jobche in the municipality of Cobán.”

PBI-Guatemala began accompanying the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), a campesino organization that accompanies and advises mostly Indigenous communities on land rights issues, in July 2018.

About 40 per cent of the population of Guatemala is indigenous.

Indigenous and peasant farmers were dispossessed of their land in the 18th century through colonization that drove Indigenous and peasant farmers to the less fertile highlands.

Land distribution in Guatemala continues to be deeply unequal with the largest 2.5 per cent of farms currently occupying more than 65 per cent of the land while 90 per cent of the farms are on only one-sixth of the agricultural land in the country.

There are now an estimated 1,000 land conflicts happening in Guatemala.

These land conflicts are related to concessions given to foreign companies for mining, sugar cane and palm oil farms, and hydroelectric dams, all of which deepen dispossession, exclusion and poverty among the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.

The World Food Programme has noted, “Guatemala is among the 10 countries that are most vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. Over the past three years, extended dry seasons have had a severe impact on the livelihoods of subsistence farmers, who rely on rain-fed agriculture, especially in the Dry Corridor.”

PBI first operated a project in Guatemala from 1983-1999, which closed following the Peace Accords. Unfortunately, the human rights situation soon began again to deteriorate, and local organisations asked PBI to return. The current project opened in 2003.

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