*Please send organizational sign ons to cjgreenbeans@gmail.com  no later than Monday, July 4.*

En Francais ici.

Jimmy Morales Cabrera, President of the Republic of Guatemala,
Thelma Aldana, Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office
Carlos Moran, Secretary for Agrarian Affairs – SAA
Mario Estuardo Mendez Cobar, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food – MAGA
Francisco Rivas Lara, Minister of the Interior
General Manager, Axel López, Fontierras
Jorge de Leon Duque, Human Rights Ombudsman- PDH
Presidential Commission for the Coordination of the Executive Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en materia de Derechos Humanos -COPREDEH
On Wednesday, June 8, Daniel Choc Pop, indigenous Q’eqchi leader, peasant farmer and member of the Highland’s Committee of Peasant Farmers – CCDA, was murdered in San Juan Los Tres Ríos, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Daniel had represented his community in meetings with State institutions responsible for resolving land conflicts, including the Secretary for Agrarian Affairs of the President (SAA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), the Land Fund (Fontierras) and the National System for Dialgoue since 2012 when his community began to seek legal title for the land (tierra baldia) on which they are living. Daniel was a regional representative of the CCDA and not only represented his community of San Juan Los Tres Ríos, but also a number of other communities in the region that are at risk of forced evictions, death threats, intimidations and criminalization.
Just weeks before Daniel’s murder, community members had denounced threats they had received to the Public Prosecutor’s (MP) Office and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) in Coban, Alta Verapaz. Eighty-two members of the CCDA, who are working on resolving land conflicts and recuperation of lands due to ancestral rights, have warrants out for their arrest. This is a form of intimidation and repression of community rights to organize and defend their territory.
As a community leader and member of the CCDA, Daniel had received political training by the UN High Commission for Human Rights in strategic litigation for emblematic cases, had participated in the 2012 Indigenous, Peasant and Popular March and the recent Water March in April 2016. In 2015, Daniel was one of the key organizers of the “Q’eqchi Community,” when more than 400 Q’eqchi families set up outside the Presidential House in zona 1 as a form of peaceful resistance with hopes to resolve the land crisis they face.
According to witnesses, Daniel was surrounded by security guards from finca Rancho Alegre before being shot and killed on the afternoon of June 8. Less than 24 hours later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Governor of Alta Verapaz, the Land Fund, the Presidential Commission for Human Rights – COPREDEH, and the Secretary for Agrarian Affairs held a press conference where they claimed that Daniel’s murder was an isolated event, not related to the land conflict, but rather of a personal matter. Daniel’s family, his community and the CCDA have roundly rejected this theory. Daniel’s long trajectory and formation as a community leader working to resolve land conflicts in the region of Alta Verapaz must be considered while this case is investigated.
San Juan Los Tres Ríos is just one of the communities in the region in urgent need to resolve the land conflict, which has left community members, like Daniel, in great risk. The Government of Guatemala, through accords and agreements signed in the past, including Governmental Accord 181-2015, has the responsibility to promptly resolve the land conflicts in Alta Verapaz while ensuring the security and the protection of human rights of indigenous Q’eqchi communities.

We, the undersigned urge:
⦁ A full and impartial investigation into the murder of Daniel Choc Pop that established the material and intellectual authors of the murder.
⦁ Immediate security for the family of Daniel and the community of San Juan Los Tres Ríos
⦁ Immediate and just compensation for the partner and two children of Daniel Choc Pop
⦁ To prevent further human rights violations, that the Agrarian Institutions of the State take action in cases that are prioritized by the CCDA This includes immediate action in implementing Governmental Accord 181-2015, which would lead to a resolution to the cases of San Juan Los Tres Ríos, Santa Elena Senmanzana II, Ixloc San Pedrito, Cerrito Samox.
⦁ That the ancestral rights of Indigenous Q’eqchi communities are respected
Attentively yours,

Background on San Juan Los Tres Ríos and Daniel Choc Pop, from the CCDA:
– In 2012, in the context of the Indigenous, Peasant and Popular March, in which civil society organization as well as peasant communities marched from Coban, Alta Verapaz to Guatemala City, the CCDA presented a request to the Guatemalan Legislative, Executive and Judiciary to resolve land conflicts in the country. Daniel Choc Pop was one of the community representatives from San Juan los Tres Ríos who was part of the people’s struggle and effort to coordinate this initiative.
– The CCDA is currently accompanying several land conflict cases. As a result, multiple spaces have been established by the State to address land conflicts, including “Technical Committees,” “Dialogue Roundtables,” and “Follow-up Roundtables,” within the Land Fund and the Secretary of Agrarian Issues. These spaces have been an attempt to find a solution to the multiple cases of land conflicts, including the community of San Juan los Tres Ríos. The only outcome of these spaces, however, has been to slow down addressing the issues at hand. A mutually agreed upon meeting was set with the Land Fund for March 10, 2014, which was later postponed to March 18, 2014 by the State institution. At this meeting, the CCDA submitted a document outlining priority cases to the Manager of the Land Fund, in which the case of San Juan Tres Ríos was included along with others.
– A year later, after no responses was given, on April 17, 2015, backed by the constitutional right to meet, protest and peacefully resist before systematic and repeated violation of human rights, more than 400 indigenous Q’eqchi families set up outside the Presidential House in Guatemala City. For 12 days, this became known as “Q’eqchi Community.” While there, several land conflict cases were presented to the State, including that of San Juan los Tres Ríos. This can be verified in a document sent to the President of the Republic, which was stamped as received by the Private Secretary of the President on April 20, 2015. This document denounces the multiple threats that were and continued to be perpetrated by irregular armed forces – not of the State. It also denounced the cases of criminalization of leaders who have been incarcerated and those who have outstanding arrest warrants for them.
– At this time, actions that would help resolve the problems were presented to the President of the Republic and the agrarian institutions of the State. The actions that correspond to the Land Fund to fulfill should have been instigated, according to Governmental Agreement No. 199-2000 that was signed by the President.
– On April 20, 2015, while the “Q’eqchi Community” was set up, a high level roundtable was created that included the President of the Republic, the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, Secretary of Agrarian Issues, Manager of the Land Fund, Presidential Advisor Responsible for the National Dialogue System and Representatives of the CCDA. Point 5 of the Document of Agreements and Commitments clearly states: “It is agreed to work immediately to analyze the 29 cases prioritized by the CCDA in order to have a future meeting for decision making in the course of this week with the President.”
– On April 23, 2015, a meeting was held with the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, the Manager of the Land Fund, Secretary for Agrarian Issues and Representatives of the CCDA to respond to the prioritized cases. During the meeting, a Document of Agreements and Commitments was signed. The first point of this document states: “In reference to the land conflicts with respect to the communities of Cerrito Samox, Ixloc San Pedrito and San Juan los Tres Ríos, situated in Coban, Alta Verapaz, all related to access to land, it is agreed that within four months of today’s date, the Land Fund will perform and conclude the different phases of the administrative procedure for acquisition of land for peasant families.”
– On July 10, 2015 Governmental Agreement 181-2015 was issued where it was established that the budget was increased to fulfill the resolution of land conflicts in the cases of Cerrito Samox, Ixloc San Pedrito and the community of San Juan los Tres Ríos, in Cobán, Alta Verapaz. Where these funds have ended up is unclear since the problem continues.
– On April 28, 2016, with the intermediation of Congressman Leocadio Juracán, in coordination with Doctor Rokael Cardona of the National Dialogue Commission, a meeting was convened with state agrarian institutions and representatives of the CCDA to discuss a resolution to the cases of land conflict aforementioned. Follow up meetings have been held on May 11 and 17, 2016 with the intention of finding a solution; in each of these meetings, the case of San Juan los Tres Ríos has been discussed. Daniel Choc Pop consistently represented San Juan los Tres Ríos throughout this process.
– The families of San Juan los Tres Ríos have been threatened on multiple occasions, including death threats by alleged security forces from Finca Rancho Alegre. They have been intimidated with firearms, which was denounced most recently before the Alta Verapaz Regional Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office on March 31, 2016 with file number EXP.ORIENTACION ORD A.V. 4072-2016. The file reads, “community members indicate that on the morning of March 30, 2016 at 9:30am, a group of people with machetes and firearms in hand arrived saying they were authorized by Mr. German Sierra Sorio to remove them from the area.” In the complaint that was filed, it is on record that a process of regularization of lands was before the Land Fund.
– There also exists legal complaints that have been filed by community members of San Juan los Tres Ríos to the District Attorney of Alta Verapaz, including case file number MP 255-2016-2851. On April 5, 2016, a reconciliatory meeting was set up by the Unit for Early Decisions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. German Sierra Osorio, Hermelindo Chen, Evaristo Pop (who is presumed to be the material author of the murder of Daniel Choc Pop), and the families of the community of San Juan los Tres Ríos were summoned. Sierra Osorio, Chen and Pop did not show up as was recorded by the auxiliary prosecutor on April 11, 2016.