President of Guatemala
Lic. Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernández
Attorney General of Guatemala
Dear President Morales and Attorney General Aldana:
We are writing to express serious concern for the safety and well-being of Angélica Choc, a Mayan Q’eqchi’ human rights defender from the municipality of El Estor in Izabal Department.
In the early hours of September 17 shots were fired outside her home where she slept with her two children. Later that day the police identified a number of 12-caliber casings and 22-caliber shotgun bullet casings and documented four bullet impact holes in the outside wall of her house.
In 2009, Angelica’s husband, Adolfo Ich Chamán, a respected Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader and former president of the Community of La Uníon in El Estor, was killed for his leadership role in speaking out about the rights violations caused by Canadian mining in Guatemala. Adolfo was hacked with a machete and shot in the head, allegedly by the private security forces contracted by the mining company. In 2010, Angélica Choc, along with 12 other plaintiffs, personally sued Hudbay Minerals Inc, HMI Nickel Inc, and its subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel S.A. in Canadian courts for the death of her husband. This ongoing case is an unprecedented effort to bring justice to their Maya-Q’eqchi’ community. This community has strongly opposed the mining project, and as a result, has faced violent acts of repression committed by state forces and private security forces contracted by the company.
Since March 2015, Angélica Choc has also been the lead victim accuser in a high profile criminal trial against Mynor Padilla, a retired agent from the Guatemalan army and former security chief for Hudbay Minerals.
We condemn the acts of intimidation against Maya-Q’eqchi’ community leader Angélica Choc and strongly urge that you
carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the acts of intimidation against Angélica Choc and her family, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
take all necessary measures, in consultation with Angélica Choc, to guarantee her security and that of her family;
guarantee that in all circumstances, all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez