PBI-Guatemala accompanies defenders criminalized as they seek return of their ancestral lands from an army base
On January 23, PBI-Guatemala posted:
“PBI accompanies 21 members of the Association of Neighbors of Chicoyogüito, Alta Verapaz [AVECHAV] to a court in Cobán where they face an charge for aggravated usurpation. This is the result of a peaceful demonstration they held in June 2021 to demand their right to the land from which their families were violently evicted by the army in 1968. At the hearing, the prosecutors agreed on a criterion of opportunity for the criminal charges to be suspended.”
The Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito was violently displaced from their ancestral lands so that an army base – then known as Military Zone 21 – could be established in the department of Alta Verapaz. More than 200 families were displaced from those lands on July 28, 1968, by the military.
After the displacement of the community, the military base became a clandestine centre for illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, and rape committed from 1978 to 1990.
At least 565 Indigenous people were disappeared at that base. The bodies identified are of Mayan Achí, Q’eqchi’, Pomochí, Ixil, and Kiché peoples.
The military base is considered the largest clandestine cemetery in Latin America.
The military base that displaced his community was rebranded in 2004 as Creompaz, a training base for UN peacekeepers funded by Canada and other countries.
Dawn Paley has written: “Regardless of the mass graves at the base, military and police training continues there, supported by countries like the US and Canada.” The support from Canada has included a CAD$250,000 grant in 2009 and the purchase of specialized equipment in 2014 for a training program at Creompaz.
Photo: CREOMPAZ, March 20, 2021.
At the bottom of this website (dated 2022), the Peace Operations Training Institute that partners with CREOMPAZ “to provide e-learning on peacekeeping courses” thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Programme for their funding.
Domingo, a member of AVECHAV, highlighted on a PBI-Canada webinar on July 15, 2021: “We know Canada has provided a lot of support for [the Creompaz peacekeeping base on our land]. But where is the peace that they say they are creating?”
On September 15, 2021, Domingo also presented to 4th year students at the University of Victoria about the situation for his community.
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Chicoyogüito Neighborhood Association of Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV) since 2015.
“This land is ours”