To read the original statement in Spanish, click here.

On the morning of August 14, the community of Monte Olivo in Cobán Alta Verapaz once more had their rights violated. This time, a large contingent of police forcibly evicted families who live in this community, with the goal of protecting the interests of the [hydro-electric] company Hidro Santa Rita, S.A. The eviction was carried out by the National Civil Police, backed by more than 125 police cars and 1,200 police officers.

Five community members were arrested during the violent forced eviction and continue to be detained in an unknown location, including Obdulia Ical, Isabela Choc, Cristina and Carmen Hun and Magdiel Ical Hun. In the community, pregnant women, men, girls and boys have been beaten, injured and intoxicated by the use of tear gas. This violent eviction reflects a clear misogynist and racist attitude by the State towards the dignity of women, men and children who are now criminalized for defending their rights. This violent eviction contradicts the constitutional provision that requires the State to protect the life of its inhabitants, without discrimination.

Once more, we are seeing how the government of Otto Pérez Molina violates the collective rights of indigenous peoples while carrying out this type of action that reflects a strategy of repression and authoritarianism. This government has sold out in favour of transnational companies who only look to loot our natural resources through occupying large swaths of territories for monoculture and hydroelectric projects – such as the case with this area – while unabashedly favouring certain families of the national oligarchy at the cost of the life of these communities.

Throughout Pérez Molina’s term in office, there have been a series of attacks against communities that continue to defend life and their ancestral territories. These actions have included states of siege, violent evictions, the criminalization of community leaders, small farmers, indigenous peoples, social and popular organizations, persecution and illegal arrests. This criminalization has been expressed in certain media outlets who distort information in favour of the interests of the companies aligned with the State.

The organizations who make up the Coordination and National Convergence Maya Waquib’ Kej stand in solidarity with the families of these Q’eqchi’ communities impacted by this violent eviction.

We denounce and reject these violent acts committed by the Government of Guatemala and we demand the immediate release of the five community members who were detained illegally, as they did not commit any crime and were arrested without warrants.

On August 9, the government celebrated the International Day of Indigenous Peoples in the National Palace. A mere five days after these hypocritical speeches, these [indigenous] communities were violently evicted. In light of this, we demand consistency from this government in valuing the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, as outlined in Convention 169 of the ILO and in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.