PBI-Guatemala accompanies CCDA-Verapaces at hearing as Q’eqchi’ communities are criminalized over land rights on ancestral territories
On April 14, PBI-Guatemala posted:
“#PBI accompanies members of the CCDA-Verapaces [Campesino Committee of the Highlands] to the hearing of the Manantial case. The case consists of the prosecution of a community that has been settled on land – now in dispute – for more than 20 years. Now, this process has been opened in which they are accused of disturbing possession.
The lawyer considers that this is a case of criminalisation, since the channels for resolving agrarian conflicts have not been exhausted and the case has been taken directly to the criminal courts.”
PBI-Guatemala has previously explained: “The CCDA of the Verapaces accompanies some 150 Q’eqchi communities, supporting them in the resolution of conflicts related to the possession of the land they inhabit.”
The Guardian has also 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.”
And the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has previously reported that there is a “pattern of human rights violations when evictions are carried out” in the country. The IACHR says: “The Maya Q’eqchi’ and Poqomchi’ peoples from the targeted communities have been fighting for the State to recognise their right to their land and ancestral territories. The State’s response – in alliance with powerful private actors – has been repression and criminalisation. This in turn contributes to the rising violence and conflict in the communities and region, and is in direct contradiction to the human rights treaties.”
PBI-Guatemala began accompanying the Comité Campesino del Altiplano/Campesino Committee of the Highlands/ CCDA – The Verapaces in July 2018. Las Verapaces is the region formed by the departments of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz.