CMI Reports Attacks After Coverage in Alta Verapaz

Information provided by the Independent Media Center in Guatemala (CMI-G).

Several attacks were made against the Independent Media Center in Guatemala in the wake of the center’s coverage of a recent violent eviction in the department of Alta Verapaz. In a joint operation carried out by the police, military forces, and some civilians, more than 100 families were displaced, at least five community leaders were arrested, and three people were killed. These events — which occurred in an area where there are strong interests in hydroelectric, extractive, and agricultural mega-projects — have still not been properly investigated or resolved.

Just after the eviction, CMI suffered attacks on its web page and server, which prohibited the immediate publication of information. Then, on August 23, a person who lives in the same house as one of the CMI reporters was kidnapped, harassed, and beaten. Direct threats were also made to the reporter who authored the columns about the eviction at Alta Verapaz.

GHRC echoes CMI’s concerns that this attack represents a growing trend of criminalization and repression of independent journalists and communications professionals. Others have been similarly targeted, such as Ricard Busquets from the Comite de Unidad Campesina (CUC), and Francisca Gómez Grijalva, a journalist who was threatened with trial for writing a column that critiqued industrial manufacturing company Cementos Progreso for abuse of power.

Read the original CMI article in Spanish:

Desde el inicio de la cobertura que realizó un equipo del Centro de Medios Independientes de Guatemala (CMI-G) acerca de los más recientes desalojos en el departamento de Alta Verapaz, realizados por agentes de la Policía Nacional Civil, ejército y algunos civiles que irregularmente los acompañaban, se inició una cadena de ataques, entre ellos informáticos, que impidieron publicar de forma inmediata la información recopilada durante los acontecimientos.1 En esa acción fueron desplazadas más de cien familias, se capturó a cinco líderes comunitarios y tres campesinos fueron asesinados, en hechos hasta ahora no esclarecidos. Continue reading

In Ferguson and in Guatemala

Over the last week, we have listened with growing horror as news reached us from Monte Olivo, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Since 2010, residents of the region who oppose the construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam have been victim to various attacks, including one in August 2013 that left two young boys dead.http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?key=-1&url_num=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Forg.salsalabs.com%2Fo%2F2690%2Fp%2Fdia%2Faction3%2Fcommon%2Fpublic%2F%3Faction_KEY%3D16152

Then, last week, according to the Prensa Comunitaria, the government deployed over 1,000 police to Monte Olivo to evict 160 families of the community 9 de Febrero. As helicopters flew overhead, police and day laborers destroyed homes and assaulted residents, leaving several people injured. Five people were also arrested in Monte Olivo, as well as two others in nearby Raxruhá. In response, hundreds of people blocked the highway to prevent the passage of the police. In an ensuing conflict between protesters and police, three men were killed in the community of Semacoch, allegedly by police gunfire, and several people were injured, including six police. Eight police were also detained by protesters, but have since been released.

Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: August 11-15

Agreement to construct hydroelectric project leads to violent eviction

An agreement signed between the mining company Hidro Santa Rita and President Otto Pérez Molina on July 30 resulted in a violent eviction in Monte Olivo, Cobán, Alta Verapaz. As a result of the eviction and subsequent protests, 24 people were arrested, six police officers injured, and three people died. There was reportedly no consultation with the communities that would be affected by the project’s installation.

Another Goldcorp crime is exposed

An interview with a woman by the alias of “Doña A” recounts the alleged 2009 murder of her husband by employees of the Marlin Mine in Northwest Guatemala. Her husband informed neighboring communities about the negative effects the mine would have and also helped organize a community referendum. Continue reading

Update on La Puya: Resistance Faces New Threats

Photo courtesy of La Puya en Resistencia

Photo courtesy of La Puya en Resistencia

This morning, at 2:00 am, three large trucks and a machine that would serve to wash gold arrived at the El Tambor gold mine. Members of La Puya have once again moved to peacefully protest the entry of heavy machinery into the mine.

Those present at La Puya, working in shifts, managed to prevent entry of the machinery for at least an hour. However, unable to resist against the large number of police officers present, protesters eventually made way for the trucks to come through. As they entered, the four trucks destroyed the canvas tarp that served as a makeshift roof for members of La Puya.

Continue reading

More Families Violently Evicted Over Nickel Mine in Guatemala

(En español abajo)

On the morning of July 10, 2014, 400 members of the Guatemalan National Police, accompanied by private security guards from the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN) — a subsidiary of Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals — violently evicted at least 80 families from the community of Nabalija. CGN claims to be the owner of the land, although families have occupied the area for over a year. The eviction left several people injured.

At a press conference on July 16 in Guatemala City, Angelica Choc spoke out about past abuses committed by CGN — including the murder of her husband, Adolfo Ich, by the the company’s former head of security, as well as the rape of nine women by CGN security officers. An Ontario Court has made a ruling that will allow a case to be brought against HudBay, marking the first time a Canadian company is tried in Canada over actions committed by one of its international subsidiaries.

Angelica Choc speaks at a press conference in Guatemala City.

Angelica Choc speaks at a press conference in Guatemala City.


Las Comunidades Q’eqchi : 30 DE JUNIO SE’CHAJ, ASOCIACIÓN CAMPESINA MAYA Q’EQCHI’, SE’TAL, AGUA CALIENTE LOTE 9, COMUNIDAD 13 DE ABRIL, LOTE 8, LAS NUBES, LA CEIBA y EL ZAPOTILLO, todas del municipio de El Estor, Izaoat

Ante la opinión pública nacional e internacional, exponemos y denunciamos que el territorio del pueblo Q’eqchi’ ubicado en el municipio de El Estor, se viene librando una lucha sin descanso desde el año 1960 hasta hoy día para hacer valer nuestro derecho de acceso a la tierra, a un lugar digno donde vivir, trabajar, alimentar a la familia y fortalecer nuestra cultura e identidad. Continue reading

Another Land Rights Leader Is Criminalized in Guatemala

CUC Coordinator Daniel Pascual at a march in 2012. Photo by James Rodríguez.

CUC Coordinator Daniel Pascual at a march in 2012. Photo by James Rodríguez.

*Summary of an article from the Centro de Medios Independientes (Center for Independent Media) called “Libertad de Expresión en disputa” (Freedom of Expression in dispute)

On July 8, Daniel Pascual, coordinator for the Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC), spoke at a public hearing in Guatemala’s Constitutional Court about the importance of protecting both Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Expression. Around 300 community members, authorities and social leaders from all over Guatemala came to support Pascual and CUC. Continue reading

Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative Recognized with International Human Rights Award

GHRC congratulates the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative for being chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights [1], presented by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Co-founded in 2010 by Just Associates (JASS) Mesoamerica, the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative is a collaboration of five organizations, including GHRC partner UDEFEGUA.

The Initiative works to strengthen and protect female human rights activists in Mexico and Central America who are attacked and even killed for their work. It does this by providing women defenders with rapid-response networks, training in human rights, security and self-care, assistance in documenting cases of attacks and publishing in-depth gendered analysis of the violence the women defenders face.

Read more about the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IM-DEFENSORAS) here.


[1] The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) created the Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights to honor the memory of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, IPS colleagues murdered in Washington D.C. in 1976 by a car bomb denoted by agents of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. While paying homage to Letelier and Moffitt, the award celebrates “new heroes of the human rights movement from the US and the Americas.”