25 OCTOBER 2022
The International Land Coalition Latin America and the Caribbean (ILC LAC) expresses its deep concern about the violent evictions of peasant and indigenous communities that have taken place over the course of the last month in the Verapaces region.
The evictions have happened under the pretext of an ongoing militarization, putting the communities lives at risk and violating their right to land.
The two communities that have been affected - Pancoc, Mojón, Moshanté, Calijá, Washington and Dos Fuentes - have been surrounded since November 21st by thousands of army and National Civil Police (PNC) troops; a tactic reminiscent of those used in the civil war.
The communities affected are closely linked to the Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA) and the Unión Verapacense de Organizaciones Campesinas (UVOC), member organisations of ILC and the Plataforma por la Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio de Guatemala (also known as the National Land Coalition of Guatemala).
As a result of the operation, homes in the communities are being raided and inhabitants are unable to move around for supplies or to sell their products.
The plan is to evict 10,000 families in the following days. So far only one community leader has been wounded with a firearm.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has previously reported that there is a "pattern of human rights violations when evictions are carried out" in the country.
The Maya Q'eqchi' and Poqomchi' peoples from the targeted communities have been fighting for the State to recognise their right to their land and ancestral territories.
The State's response - in alliance with powerful private actors - has been repression and criminalisation. This in turn contributes to the rising violence and conflict in the communities and region, and is in direct contradiction to the human rights treaties. Human Rights Treaties signed by the country, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land Tenure in the Context of Food Security.
From ILC LAC we have been following closely what is happening in the country and in view of the critical situation:
- We call on the government of Guatemala to put an end to the policy of evictions and criminalization and to immediately cease the violence in the territories of the Sierra de las Minas.
- We call on the State to put an end to the agrarian conflict that persists and recognize the need to ensure the land rights and territories of the communities, respecting human rights and in compliance with international conventions and treaties.
- We warn of the need to reestablish public institutions to address the agrarian conflict - dismantled in the last year - and which should guarantee the implementation of the peace agreements.
- We reiterate our support to the indigenous and peasant organizations fighting for the defense of land and territories and to the Platform for the Defense of Land and Territory of Guatemala.
- We call on the international community to speak out against violent evictions and the occupation of territories in the Verapaces.
International Land Coalition - Latin America and the Caribbean