PBI-Guatemala accompanies CCDA at hearing on the criminalization of the Indigenous community of Santa Elena Samanzana II

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On June 17, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “Yesterday, PBI accompanied CCDA Verapaz in a hearing to present evidence for the case of criminalization to communities of Santa Elena Samanzana II.”

The CCDA accompanies 150 Maya Q’eqchi’ communities who have been repressed and stripped of their land or who are immersed in conflicts regarding land tenure. PBI-Guatemala has accompanied CCDA-Verapaz since July 2018.

This past April, PBI-Guatemala had also posted: “PBI accompanies CCDA Verapaz and Indigenous authorities Lorenzo Pop and Pedro Cajbon of the Indigenous community Santa Elena Samanzana II.” Pop, a spiritual and legal representative of the community, has stated: “We come to demand that our rights as indigenous peoples of Guatemala.”

The PBI-Guatemala report We Defend Life! The Social Struggles in Alta Verapaz 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 from their lands.

Lesbia Artola of the CCDA-Verapaz in her office with PBI-Guatemala accompaniment.

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