PBI-Guatemala meets with the CCDA to discuss security situation during visit to Cobán, Alta Verapaz

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On April 10, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Last week we traveled to Cobán to present ourselves to different departmental authorities and to visit the members of the CCDA Verapaz to inform us about their security situation.”

Cobán is the capital city of the department of Alta Verapaz and is located about 220 kilometres north of Guatemala City.

PBI-Guatemala has explained: “The Community Council of the Highlands (CCDA) accompanies more than 150 Maya Q’eqchi’ communities who have been repressed and stripped of their land or are immersed in conflicts regarding land tenure.”

Due to their work many of their members have faced threats, criminalization processes and kidnappings. In 2018, five CCDA members were killed.

On a previous visit to Cobán (noted in their monthly information package for March), PBI-Guatemala reported: “We met with Lesbia Artola and Imelda Teyul, Coordinators of the CCDA-Las Verapaces Region.”

PBI-Guatemala adds: “They shared the general situation of the communities affected by criminalization with us, as well as the constant threats and the risk of eviction. They also shared their deep concern over the existence of more than 60 eviction orders in Alta and Baja Verapaz and 932 arrest warrants.”

The PBI-Guatemala report We Defend Life! The Social Struggles in Alta Verapaz also provides the historical context: “The indigenous peoples and campesinos of AV have been subjected to continuous dispossession dating back to the Spanish conquest, when the looting of natural wealth in the region began through the exploitation of raw materials.”

It adds: “Faced with this history of dispossession, the indigenous and campesino population has organized multiple resistances throughout history. …The State’s response to these resistances has been characterized by repression.”

The Guardian has reported: “A peace agreement in 1996 should have led to land redistribution, but a handful of powerful families still dominates the economy, and Guatemala remains one of the world’s least equal and most violent countries, with the largest 2.5% of farms occupying more than 65% of the land.”

That article further notes that foreign-backed mining, dams and other extractive industries have meant the continued evictions of Indigenous peoples.

For additional photos from the visit to Cobán, please click here.

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