Today marks the 55th anniversary of the displacement of an Indigenous community for a military base in Guatemala
“This land is ours”
On May 5, a Peace Brigades International-Canada delegation met with Olivia, a representative of the Residents Association of Chicoyogüito, Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV) at a café in the city of Cobán in the department of Alta Verapaz.
She told us about the eviction and displacement of her community so that a military base could be constructed on those ancestral lands.
That eviction took place on July 28, 1968 – 55 years ago today.
The 200 families of the Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito were violently displaced that day so that an army base – then known as Military Zone 21 – could be established in the department of Alta Verapaz.
After the eviction 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 2023), 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?”
Video: PBI-Canada webinar with Olivia and Domingo from AVECHAV, Santiago Choc Cu of the PBI-Guatemala accompanied Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) and Rachel Small of World Beyond War Canada.
On September 15, 2021, Domingo also presented to 4th year students at the University of Victoria about the situation for his community.
PBI-Guatemala began accompanying AVECHAV in 2015.