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Guatemala: News & Updates
Guatemala had the longest and bloodiest civil war in Central American history: 36 years (1960-96). The US-backed military was responsible for a genocide (“scorched earth policy”) that wiped out 200,000 mostly Maya indigenous civilians. War criminals are still being tried in the courts.
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June 26, 2018
Human rights defender Bernardo Caal Xol is in prison for being an indigenous Q’eqchi’ leader who has spoken out against the illegal construction of massive hydroelectric dams in indigenous territory, which were built without consulting the indigenous population as required by law and have resulted in the destruction of local ecosystems, clear cutting of old growth forests and decimation of mountain ridges sacred to the Q’eqchi’ people.
June 13, 2018
The indigenous leaders Ramon Choc Sacrab, Florencio Pérez Nájera and Alejandro Hernández García were murdered in Guatemala, which make a total of six human rights leaders who have been killed in less than a month.
June 11, 2018
We are deeply concerned by the ongoing criminalization of human rights defenders reporting on environmental degradation in El Estor, Guatemala, which we believe are motivated solely by their legitimate and peaceful work in defense of environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights.
May 23, 2018
Three human rights defenders were killed within the same week: Luis Marroquin, 47; José Can Xol, 37; and Mateo Chamám Paau, 31. Luis was a member of the National Directorate of the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA), which promotes land rights and rural development for indigenous farming families. José and Mateo were members of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), which promotes access to land and the labor rights of Mayan campesinos. CCDA has suffered numerous threats and attacks, including several attacks against their office and leaders.
April 23, 2018
A group of hitmen killed Crisanto Garcia Ohajaca at a Catholic worship service on March 29. He was likely targeted for his family links to COMUNDICH, an indigenous rights organization that currently supports 48 Mayan Ch’orti’ communities who live along the border with Honduras, and his knowledge surrounding the killing of another member of the Ch’orti’ de Morola community.
April 12, 2018
assassination of Héctor Manuel Choc Cuz in El Estor, Izabal Department. For many years, his local Mayan Q’eqchi’ community has been protesting displacement from their ancestral land and environmental degradation caused by the Fenix nickel mining, which was owned by Hudbay Minerals of Canada
March 25, 2018
During a student-led human rights march in Guatemala City on March 23, a group of persons wearing hoods and gowns, and armed with bats and machetes, attacked Jorge Santos, the General Coordinator of UDEFEGUA (Protection Unit for Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala), causing wounds that required stitches.
February 14, 2018
murders of journalists Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes, age 28, and Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, age 30; their bodies with hands and feet tied and gunshot wounds to the head were found near Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez Department.
January 26, 2018
unjust criminalization of María Magdalena Cuc Choc, environmental and indigenous land rights defender in Izabal Dept., involved in a land dispute between her Chabil’ Ch’och’ indigenous community and an investment company held by a former president and former government officials
December 24, 2017
continued unjust criminalization of Juan Eduardo Caal Suram, a member of the Artisanal Fishermen’s Guild (GPA), which has been calling for government action to resolve the contamination of Lake Izabal in El Estor, Izabal Department, polluted by the Guatemalan Nickel Company.