March 23, 2022
Julio Toc Mucu was arrested by police on March 22 around noon near his home in Estor Izabal. He was taken into police custody in El Estor, accused of the crime of incitement to commit a crime. According to the police, the arrest warrant was issued on February 14 by the court in Puerto Barrios. His arrest is allegedly part of a case mounted against 12 defenders in connection with the protest that was violently repressed on October 21, 2021. Arrest warrants have not been issued for the others. He has been transferred to prison in Puerto Barrios without having an arraignment proceeding and a date for his first hearing has not been set. According to reports we have received, he has been beaten in custody.
Toc is the son of Julio Ancelmo Toc, who is part of the Fishermen’s Guild and the Ancestral Indigenous Council in El Estor. We are concerned for his safety, given that members of the guild and indigenous ancestral authorities in El Estor have been persecuted by government authorities since October of last year, when a state of siege was imposed in El Estor. According to a report by Forbidden Stories, a massive data leak related to the Fenix mine, which was analyzed by a coalition of journalists, found evidence of cooperation between Solway Group, its subsidiaries in Guatemala, and government authorities in El Estor and Guatemala City. One piece of evidence was payments made to local authorities, including gifts made to judges that have since sided in favor of the company in cases mounted against defenders.
We condemn any attempt to criminalize indigenous peoples, who have the right to defend their land and their lives. We demand that the police of El Estor and the courts release Toc Mucu and stop the persecution against defenders and indigenous peoples.