PBI-Guatemala observes extractivist violence against the Maya C’horti’ people during the pandemic

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On June 26, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted an article in Spanish on their website that states: “In Iximulew, called Guatemala from colonial times, indigenous peoples have spent years claiming the right to decide on their economic, social and cultural development and on the territory they inhabit.”

That article continues: “This right is recognized internationally through two legal instruments ratified by the Republic of Guatemala: ILO Convention 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

“The Maya C’horti ‘people are located mainly in the department of Chiquimula, in the municipalities of Camotán, Jocotán and Olopa.”

“This eastern area of ​​the Dry Corridor is characterized by water scarcity and its negative effects on the harvest of basic foods, all of this in a population that basically lives on agriculture. The consequence of this reality is widespread acute and chronic malnutrition, which especially affects underage girls and boys.”

“The origin of this problem is found in the unequal distribution of land, as well as in the permanent drought caused by the increasingly irregular distribution of rainfall, the grabbing of rivers by extractive companies and increasing deforestation.”

“On March 6, 2020, the State of Calamity (EoC) entered into force in Guatemala. Among other measures, it includes the stop of public transport and the prohibition of assembly and free movement during the curfew. This has been an impediment for communities to exercise their right to resist against extractive projects.”

“However, companies have resources and permits to continue with their activities. This has increased the risks to which the defenders of the communities are exposed, who, for years, have claimed respect for their rights over ancestral territories.”

PBI-Guatemala then notes this worrying reality in Ch’orti ‘territory citing:

-the Cantera Los Manantiales mine in the municipality of Olopa (where machinery has been brought into the mine site during the pandemic);

-the assassination of defender Medardo Alonzo Lucero (who worked to defend the territory from extractive industries); and

-the Cantera El Porvenir mine (where the communal forest is being cut down without the permission of the community).

“Faced with this panorama, the Mayan, Xinka and Garifuna peoples have presented their concrete proposals and have asked … ‘not to use the State of Calamity to settle investment projects in our territories burdensome to our rights and respect in spirit and letter our right to free prior and informed consultation and the response of the peoples.’”

The PBI-Guatemala article concludes: “From Peace Brigades International we echo the urgent need to listen to the voice of the peoples.”

To read the full article, please click on Vulneración del derecho a la autodeterminación de los pueblos indígenas durante la pandemia. El caso del pueblo Maya C’horti’.

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