PBI-Guatemala visits the Nuevo Horizonte Cooperative

Published by Brent Patterson on

On December 6, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on its Facebook page, “During our trip in [the department of] Petén we met representatives of the Permanent Delegation of the Laguna Del Tigre Sierra Lacandón and the women of Leaving Footprints of the Nuevo Horizonte Cooperative.”

PBI-Guatemala adds, “We also had meetings with the governorate, the PDH, the departmental COPREDEH and the mayor’s office of Flores.”

PDH refers to the Office of Human Rights (a state entity commissioned by the Congress to ensure compliance with human rights), while COPREDEH is the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (that coordinates executive policy on human rights).

PBI-Guatemala has also previously explained, “The Women’s Group Leaving Footprint is made up of 35-40 women from the Nuevo Horizonte Cooperative… This ‘group of promoters of popular education, ex-combatants of the guerrillas, work on issues of women’s rights and economic empowerment…’”

In April 2007 PBI-Guatemala published an interview with Nuevo Horizonte Cooperative president Eduardo García Franco.

He stated, “This cooperative was not created from nothing. It is the result of a 36-year process, the revolutionary uprising that began here in 1960/61. In the 1960s, all avenues of legal protest and organization were closed in Guatemala, and there was no other choice for people except to organize and defend their rights. The guerilla forces in El Petén began to gather strength after 1980. After that, we began to form part of the revolutionary movement, all of us who live here in Nuevo Horizonte.”

That full interview can be read here on pages 8 and 9.

The Nuevo Horizonte Cooperative is located south-east of the Laguna del Tigre national park.

PBI-Guatemala has also noted, “At the end of July 2010, PBI received the petition of the communities of the Sierra del Lacandón [which is located within the Sierra del Lacandon national park) … and the [adjacent] Laguna del Tigre [national park]…”

That request was “to make visible the population and the situation of the communities in these areas and publicize their concern about militarization, government eviction announcements and aggressions on earth in the form of mega projects approved and promoted without prior information or community consultation.”

In June 2017, New York University history professor Greg Gandin commented, “The Guatemalan military and National Police drove 700 Guatemalans from the Petén community of Laguna Larga [located just south of the Laguna del Tigre national park] a majority of them women, children, and older people, out of their homes into the Mexican state of Campeche.”

“The reason the military drove them out was to execute a court ruling, which found in favor of Guatemala’s National Council of Protected Areas of Guatemala (CONAP, in Spanish) in its effort to clear the settlers out of the region’s protected nature reserve.”

“Sounds good, right—protect nature?”

But that article quotes Luis Solano, an investigative reporter, who says, “The problem for the communities in the Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre is that they are located on land where military, economic (oil extraction, agribusiness, including biofuel production, and tourism), and extra-economic interests (including drug trafficking, ‘narco-planters,’ and ‘narco-ranchers,’) intersect. They are subject to the corrupt political structures and narco-power that dominate the region, in collusion with the main oil company, Perenco.”

While PBI-Guatemala does not accompany human rights defenders in Petén, it visits every six months to monitor the human rights situation there.

Petén is the northernmost department in Guatemala. Its capital city Flores is situated about 485 kilometres north of Guatemala City.

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