Abelino Chub Caal, who has worked with the Guillermo Toriello Foundation for more than ten years, was arrested this week in Alta Verapaz when he was with his family. His work at the foundation involves accompanying and mediating for communities that are fighting for land.
According to the National Civil Police, he is accused of leading land invasions in Izabal. The specific charges agsinst him are aggravated robbery, arson, illegal association, use of coercion, and belonging to illegal armed groups. The arrest warrant was issued on October 17, 2016, by the First Criminal Court of Puerto Barrios. He was taken to a court in Carcha and notified of the charges against him, then he was taken to a courthouse and prison in Cobán, and later he was transferred to the Preventive Center for Men in Zone 18 of Guatemala City.
Acording to the Guillermo Toriello Foundation, his arrest owes to his work accompanying twenty-nine communities in the Sierra Santa Cruz, a region where powerful interests come together, including finca owners, such as the Murciélago Finca, companies, such as Maya Níquel, CGN, and the municipal mayor Estor Rony Mendez Caal. The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of an appeal on behalf of these communities. The ruling voided registries since 1920, which were full of anomalies and laid claim to the lands in an attempt to usurp them.
A few days earlier, the Secretariat of Agricultural Affairs had called a meeting to advance a dialogue with the community of Nueva Generación del Estor. Upon leaving the meeting, one of the representatives of the community was arrested. Abelino attended that meeting, as well.
Since last year, there has been a defamation campaign against Abelino and the Guillermo Toriello Foundation, as well as against the Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC).
Judge Edgar Aníbal Arteaga López issued the warrant (#18002-2016-00328) ordering the National Civil Police to arrest Abelino Chub Caal, Martin Xi Cuz, Mateo Pop Yaxcal, and Hector Che Rax. Of the four, only Abelino Chub has been arrested.