Guatemala News Update: November 10-14

Law Ratified to Implement Chixoy Dam Reparations Plan

On November 8, Guatemala’s president, Otto Perez Molina, apologized on behalf of the Guatemalan government for the human rights violations that 33 indigenous Maya Achi communities suffered because of the construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam. Many were forced to relocate against their will, losing their land and livelihoods and 444 men, women and children from affected communities were massacred.

President Perez Molina signed into law Decree #378-2014, an agreement to provide $153.8 million in reparations to those affected by the Chixoy Dam. Starting in 2015, the money will be distributed among the 33 communities over the next fifteen years. In addition, some of the money will go toward community development projects in the Chixoy Dam affected area.

Third Day of Campesino Protests in Guatemala

On Thursday, November 13, for the third day in a row, campesino organizations blocked highways and roads in the north, west, and east of the country to call on the Guatemalan Congress to repeal certain laws that affect them negatively and approve others that would support farmers.

A related article describes protests outside of the Congress by a group demanding to be heard about its request for a rural development law.

On November 14, Daniel Pascual, leader of the Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC), denounced the death of Vásquez Cruz, a resident who was involved in the protests. Cruz died from injuries received when security forces attempted to end the road blockade in Sanarate, El Progreso.

Miriam Pixtún Visits Midwest as Part of GHRC Fall Speaker’s Tour

As part of GHRC’s Fall Speaker’s Tour, Miriam Pixtún visited the Midwest to discuss the roots and goals of the “La Puya” nonviolent resistance movement and to describe the Guatemalan government’s overwhelming lack of respect for indigenous rights. As an active member of the movement, Miriam shared her experiences at La Puya, and also spoke about government corruption, racism sexism in Guatemalan society. She also met with indigenous groups to compare experiences with environmental resistance movements in the US and Guatemala. Continue reading

Fall 2014 Speaker’s Tour: Miriam Pixtún

GHRC is excited to announce that Miriam Pixtún Monroy will be visiting the US this November, as part of our Fall 2014 Speaker’s Tour, to share her experiences and those of other Mayan and Mestizo communities in Guatemala. Miriam will speak with audiences in Chicago, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Reno, Silver City and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Miriam is a resident of Nacahuil, a Maya Kaqchikel community located about one hour from Guatemala City. In September of 2013, Nacahuil suffered a horrific attack. Unknown gunman sprayed bullets across the town’s main street, then viciously hunted people down; 11 people were killed and 15 more were injured, including two young girls. Nacahuil is one of many Guatemalan communities active in resisting the encroachment of mines, dams, and other mega-development projects onto its territory. Some residents believe that the attack was an attempt to break the community’s resistance to these projects; various witnesses also allege that the police were involved.

Miriam has extensive experience in community outreach and has been involved in movements for indigenous rights and autonomy. She, along with other members of Nacahuil, has also been very active in the anti-mining blockade known as ‘La Puya.’

Miriam will speak about the roots and goals of community resistance to mega development projects and describe the Guatemalan government’s overwhelming lack of respect for indigenous rights. GHRC’s Kathryn Johnson will accompany Miriam, providing interpretation and background information.

Times and locations will be on our website as they become available. We hope you can join us, or pass this information along to your networks in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Nevada.


OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS

EVENT

DATE & TIME

LOCATION
GHRC 2014 Human Rights Defenders Award Ceremony. Click here to RSVP. 10/28/2014, 6 PM (program at 7 PM) St. Stephen’s Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, Washington, DC 20010
Congressional Briefing: Latin American Human Rights Defenders on the Impact of U.S. Security Policy in Mexico, Central America and Colombia 10/29/2014, 1:00-2:30 PM 2226 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Public Forum on Genocide in Guatemala: The Future of the Trial against Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sanchez. Click here for more information. 10/31/2014, 9:30 AM-12 PM Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2nd floor Room B and C, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Xinka Leader Speaks Out About Women’s Rights, Land Rights

Lorena Cabnal

Lorena Cabnal

In November 2013, Lorena Cabnal, accompanied by GHRC, spoke at a School of the America’s Watch Vigil about the Xinka community, their defense of land and women’s rights, and the recent impacts of remilitarization. Her story reflects both the historic struggles of the Xinka people, as well as the transformation of a group of women into a nationally recognized political force.

The Xinka people are not widely known outside Guatemala. And, until recently, the Xinka were not even recognized as an indigenous group in Guatemala; when Lorena was growing up, she didn’t know anything about that part of her heritage. Then, with the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, and after extensive work by Xinka communities themselves, the Xinka people were officially recognized as a non-Mayan indigenous group.

Lorena herself settled in Santa Maria Xalapan, Jalapa, the largest Xinka community — often referred to simply as “the Mountain.” The promises of the Peace Accords, however, didn’t materialize in the Mountain. When the government claimed that Xalapan was not a target for social programs because “no indigenous people lived there,” (the government’s official count was 16,700), the women took the lead in organizing a community census. They showed that there were 85,000 Xinka people on the Mountain, and then organized marches to denounce racism and the “statistical ethnocide” that sought to minimize and disregard the population. Continue reading

GHRC Launches Fall Speaker’s Tour with Maria Choc

GHRC is proud to present our Fall 2011 Speaker’s Tour with Maria Cuc Choc, a Mayan activist and community leader from Guatemala. Maria and Kelsey Alford-Jones, director of GHRC, will be doing a series of exciting and informative events together in Washington, DC, Chicago, Iowa and the Twin Cities.  We will kick off the tour tomorrow night at American University before heading to the mid-west. This is an incredible opportunity to meet an inspiring member of Guatemala’s indigenous community and spread awareness about the current human rights situation in Guatemala.

Photo by: Rob Mercatante

We are bringing Q’eqchi Mayan community leader Maria Choc to the U.S. from Guatemala. Maria has been struggling for indigenous rights, land rights and women’s rights in her community – and regionally – for many years and will be speaking about these struggles in the current context of increasing violence and a new administration taking office. Maria comes from a family of community organizers and activists, and it has been their struggle and sacrifice which has served to strengthen her solidarity with communities. Her brother, Ramiro Choc, is one of Guatemala’s most high profile political prisoners. Director Kelsey Alford-Jones will be accompanying her to translate, give historical context, and talk about what we can do here in the US to educate ourselves and support human rights in Guatemala.

Check out a full schedule of events on our website.