PBI-Guatemala posts Monthly Information Package highlighting the situation for human rights defenders during the pandemic

Published by Brent Patterson on

On May 11, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted its Monthly Information Package outlining the current situation and the project’s work in April.

While we encourage you to read the full Monthly Information Package, key excerpts from it include:

Due to the restrictions imposed by the Guatemalan Government, and the severity of the pandemic, PBI has transformed and adapted our way of providing accompaniment to human rights defenders.

At the moment we have ceased out physical presence in the field but have maintained continuous contact with the organizations we accompany, other civil society organizations and with the Guatemalan and international authorities, through calls and virtual meetings.

We continue to monitor the security situation of the members of the Chicoyogüito Neighborhood Association of Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV). During this month’s communications with the organisation they shared their concerns over the lack of work and the food shortages caused by the COVID crisis and the consequent harm that this has caused the community.

Due to the high number of security incidents that the members of the Community Council of the Highlands (CCDA) – Las Verapaces Region continue to suffer, we continued to monitor their situation closely throughout April.

We remain attentive to the situation of the imprisoned human rights defenders Jorge Coc and Marcelino Xol. Overcrowding in prisons has increased, within the context of the pandemic, as well as the lack of access to basic hygienic products. Furthermore, visits are prohibited. Jorge and Marcelino’s families have shared their concern for the physical and emotional health of both human rights defenders in these circumstances. We are awaiting new dates for appeal hearings.

As part of our accompaniment of the Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC), this month we maintained contact with their members over the telephone as well as a number of virtual meetings.

We continued to monitor the worrying security situation of the New Day Chorti Campesino Central Coordinator (CCCND) closely throughout the month. They have shared their strong concerns about: the rise in the price of food and transportation; the increasing lack of work in the territory; the inequity in the distribution of food by the municipal government, which is not prioritizing the most vulnerable population, such as single mothers and widows.

The Peaceful Resistance of La Laguna, San Pedro Ayampuc, shared their concerns about the lack of drinking water in the community, as well as the food shortages suffered by the most vulnerable families. They are organizing food distribution in solidarity with the community.

The members of the Peaceful Resistance, Cahabón (Alta Verapaz) are facing similar problems to those currently experienced across other territories. Their main concerns relate to the increase in the price of food, especially corn, and the difficulties in accessing water. Furthermore, we remain attentive to the situation of one of the organization’s human rights defenders who has received threats and attacks with strong sexist overtones.

The members of TZ’KAT – Network of Ancestral Healers from Community Feminism have shared with us that they continue to provide various healing processes by telephone to human rights defenders.

With respect to the Chinautla Multisector, the members of the organization have reported that the problems with access to water persist. They also confirmed an increase in domestic violence against women and girls in this difficult situation caused by the pandemic.

To read the full bulletin, please click here.

PBI-Guatemala’s “Monthly Information Package details the activities of PBI during every month including a short summary of relevant events regarding the human rights situation. It explains the accompaniment work realised by the volunteer team and lists all meetings with national authorities and the diplomatic corp.”

As noted in PBI’s Annual Review for 2019, “In Guatemala, 22 volunteers stood beside those defending their territories against the imposition of large-scale economic projects. They have witnessed the criminalisation of these brave people and raised the issue with the Guatemalan government and diplomatic corps. Despite challenges, PBI continues to support movements of resistance against injustice.”

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