PBI-Guatemala accompanies UVOC at its Revolution Day activities

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On October 20, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“#PBI accompanies UVOC [Verapaz Union of Campesino Organizations] in its activities today October 20, #RevolutionDay.”

UVOC is an indigenous and campesino organization dedicated to the defence and promotion of access to land for the peasant population in the departments of Alta and Baja Verapaz.

UVOC has 367 affiliated communities (about 50,000 families); 98 per cent of which are Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’, Poqomchi’ and Achi.

Revolution Day

National Today has explained: “Revolution Day commemorates a landmark moment in the country’s history [when] a democratic rebellion [in 1944] overthrew over ten years of oppressive rule under military dictator Jorge Ubico.”

It adds: “The architects of the revolution? Students, teachers, and workers. …Revolution Day changed the scope of Guatemalan politics and society, paving the way for positive reform and human rights activism.”

The BBC has also provided this background:  In 1944, Juan Jose Arevalo became the president following the overthrow of Jorge Ubico (who had repressively ruled since 1931) and introduced social-democratic reforms, including setting up a social security system and redistributing land to landless peasants.

Decree 900, the Agrarian Reform Law, was passed in June 1952 and by 1954 1.4 million acres of unused land had been redistributed to 100,000 families.

Prior to this, 2 per cent of the population controlled 72 per cent of the arable land and only 12 per cent of that land was under cultivation.

The BBC adds that in 1954 the land reform stopped with the accession to power of Colonel Carlos Castillo in a coup backed by the United States.

The internal armed conflict (that followed starting in November 1960) killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced more than one million people by the time of the Peace Accords of December 1996.

45,000 people are still unaccounted, including 5,000 children.

The conflict between state military forces and guerilla combatants was underpinned by the poverty, marginalization and racism against Indigenous peoples.

The United Nations-backed Commission for Historical Clarification determined that the Guatemalan military was responsible for 93 per cent of the atrocities – including forced disappearances, massacres and torture – and that 83 per cent of the victims were Indigenous Maya peoples.

The Commission concluded that acts of genocide occurred during the war.

There are now an estimated 1,000 land conflicts happening in Guatemala.

These land conflicts are related to concessions given to foreign companies for mining, sugar cane and palm oil farms, and hydroelectric dams, all of which deepen dispossession, exclusion and poverty among the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.

PBI-Guatemala began accompanying UVOC in 2005.

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